When we contemplate room design, art is often an afterthought. However, properly placed and well-lit, your paintings and sculptures have the power to energize your home or office and tell a compelling narrative about who you are and how you use your space.

Every room has a focus, whether it’s intentional or not. Art can be a powerful focal point that will engage and entertain, so why not use it to its full advantage?

Choosing the right art

Choosing the right art has more to do with your taste than your budget. Regardless of what you have to spend, you should be able to find pieces that reflect the unique qualities of you and your space. Whether your art is from a gallery or a flea market, treat it as precious. Illuminate it with perfect picture lights, and place it prominently.

Think for a minute about what you want your room to say and how art might be able to help convey that message. Do you want visitors to feel relaxed and at home? Or would you like to impress with an understated elegance? To elicit the appropriate response, you should consider the array of options for your art-centric room.

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How to build a minimalist art-centric room

Building a minimalist art-centric room is about paring down your space to a few essential, evocative pieces. Far from bland, minimalism should pack an incredible amount of energy in a few items.

Consider designing your room around one centralized piece of art that immediately draws the attention of your visitors. This may be a large, contemporary sculpture, or a geometric painting from the modernist era. The key to this approach is that the piece is large and loud, even if it’s relatively simple in its composition.

For a more industrial look, hew closer to matte, monochromatic pieces that subtly play off of materials like concrete and steel. If you are going after a chicer look, consider something brighter and more reflective to entice visitors into your space.

Your art selection is as important as your strict curation of everything around the art. Keep your furnishings to a minimum and your lighting fixtures in service of drawing attention to the piece you’ve selected.

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How to build an eclectic art-centric room

Perhaps minimalism is a little too stark for your taste, and you would prefer instead to build an art-centric room that feels a bit homier. If that’s the case, then consider a more eclectic approach to your curation. By showcasing a collage of favorite pieces, your art-centric room will convey much more about you as a curator than if you were to only feature one piece.

To visually excite and intellectually stimulate, your eclectic art-centric room should draw from a range of sources and materials. By bringing together disparate works of art, you will compel your visitors to draw connections between each piece and consider how they engage one another.

Another benefit of the eclectic art-centric room is that it feels a bit more like home than a minimalist interior space would. Ideally, your space should feel like it’s been built over years of careful consideration and curation.

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How to build an archival art-centric room

Like the eclectic art-centric room, the archival art-centric room requires a thoughtful collection of paintings, sculptures, and antiques. However, unlike an eclectic space, the archival space should draw from one consistent theme, artist, or era. If the minimalist room says a lot about one piece of art, and the eclectic room says a lot about the curator, then the archival room should express a well-defined history of a person, place, or culture.

When developing an archival art-centric room, think about your hobbies as well as the unique qualities of your building, neighborhood, or community. Any one of these categories can be a fertile ground from which to grow a collection. For example, if you live in a seaside community, perhaps your archival art-centric room should feature pieces of nautical equipment. Or perhaps you have a fascination with a particular era of art — use your room as a way to showcase that passion through a careful selection of exemplary pieces.

Sidekix Media, 2021,

How to know when your room is truly art-centric

You can consider your room as truly art-centric when the art speaks the loudest. That means that any other feature — whether it’s a large bay window or a double-overhead ceiling — is in service of your art, rather than a distraction.

Foundational to celebrating your art is selecting good lighting. A well-placed picture light or track lighting feature should guide your visitors’ view precisely where you want it.

To build an art-centric room, you don’t need to have your whole curation together at the outset. Start with what you have and make cuts and additions as necessary. If you wish to show off your curatorial skills, leave room for your collection to blossom over time. Great art never goes out of style, and neither will your room.

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