Occupying Wall Space: Placing Beautiful Art

Over many years of looking at spaces both new and old, we’ve seen our fair share of tall walls, long halls, and blank surfaces. Large empty space can feel pretty lonely (especially these days), and even if it’s just one or two walls, it usually isn’t something anyone wants to stare at for an extended period of time. Whether it’s a new build, a redesign, or a session of focused space planning, clients have come to us in all phases and stages for help decking the walls. This is something that comes with the territory of Full-Service Design, and one of the (many) great things about this is that it has given us a great deal of practice in sourcing, selecting, and placing unique, custom wall art. But rather than just throwing some stock pictures up there and calling it good, there’s a method to our process and a lot of consideration that goes into how we make art a meaningful part of the design vision.

Guest Bedroom Art - Cat French Design

See and Be Seen

Art is certainly not the only way to decorate a wall, but one of the reasons we love it is the way it creates flow. You would think it’s just hanging out there on the wall lookin’ nice (and it does!), but there’s so much more to the story! When chosen and placed intentionally, that picture or painting can do a lot of heavy lifting as far as bringing the creative undercurrent of a full-scale design to life. A large piece of beautiful art placed strategically will draw your eye through a space, even leading your vision through multiple rooms. If chosen well, it can also create both visual dimension and depth. Many clients come to us when they need an especially large piece, multiple coordinating pieces, or for a feature in a highly visible area of their home (such as the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, or the focal point of the main living space). But regardless of the size or location, we’re believers that art is meant to be seen and highlighted as an integral part of custom design.

Living Room Art - Cat French Design

Art History 101

If you’ve been reading for a bit, you know that we LOVE to get to know our clients. This is something that serves us particularly well when it comes to working with art pieces. Just like other creative works, art can be a very personal, highly individual choice. We find that what’s on the walls is often a very important part of the design for our clients (and we’ll talk more about why that is below). Life experiences, personal history, and even things like hobbies and professional careers can also greatly inform taste and preference when it comes to what you want to look at every day in your home. Spending time really talking with each client, building a rapport that helps us to see who they are and what makes them unique is how we plant the seeds of great design. There is a LOT of footwork and a heap of logistics that go into finding the perfect piece- but listening to our clients is always the first step.

David Bowie Living Room Painting - Cat French Design

Tension and Tone

When we’re looking at wall art for a client space, it’s part of the original master design plan. There are certain things that can be added and adjusted toward the final stages of finishing a room like accessories or accents (read more about it here!), but we think of wall art as a foundational component, and that means getting the design just right, starting from that initial drawing. This can include anything from a large framed piece under glass to mounted photographs to an unframed canvas, and even to textile art. We utilize the visual aspect of the art itself AS WELL AS the housing and presentation (that frame and matting matters, y’all). All of these things are considered as we are establishing the tone of the design and the arc of the visual aesthetic. While they’re both beautiful, a deep, moody landscape is going to create a different tone than a bright, color-forward abstract, and this can be a large determinant in the way you feel and experience the space.

String Art in Work Lounge - Cat French Design

The Big Picture

There are one million and one choices for how to place great art. But strategy is king as far as making it an impactful part of your design. We are always thinking about surrounding items, and how this art piece will affect the balance. Your eyes are always (constantly) going to be moving from place to place in any room, and art has to make sense with the rest of the visual story. Sometimes this looks like a piece that blends beautifully and mirrors the colors and shapes of surrounding items. Other times it means a piece that brings variety by introducing striking color or creating visual tension and interest against the other furniture or accents nearby. One of the things we bring to the table with skilled design is creating that customized top-down master plan that gives purpose to each and every detail. Whether the overall goal is for a piece to be stunning, striking, comforting, serene (or something else entirely!)- it’s not just about finding a spot for it to hang. We want to create and curate a perfect place where it will belong.

Large Print in Den - Cat French Design

(Re)Framing the Narrative

One of the best things about full custom design is that we can also integrate art that you already have into a brand new design. This is one of the things we do best in our work bringing modern and traditional together and something that clients have come to love. Most of us have some special items from our past- whether it’s that print from your grandparent’s house that’s been collecting dust for a while or that collection of old family photos- sometimes it can just feel impossible to figure out where these types of things should GO. But taking something beloved and giving it a new lease on life even with some simple, intentional quality re-framing can help bring it into a streamlined room design. Family photos? We create custom gallery walls of all shapes and sizes, unique to each space. We have also at times even created custom artwork for our clients (one of the great things about having artists in house!). Whatever the challenge is, we are here to help with energy, creativity, and a commitment to making each space just right. Art is just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s one of our favorite ways to create a beautiful, personal space that clients can enjoy for a lifetime.

Mantel Art - Cat French Design

Whether it’s your favorite room, your entire home, or your business that needs some new design life, we’re here to help. Reach out to us anytime at hello@catfrenchdesign.com. You can also keep up with more of the happenings and goings-on of this busy team on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram @Catfrenchdesign.