The Physical Place of Artwork in the Interior Design Project
Whether you’re renting your first apartment or putting down the deposit on your second holiday home in southern France, sooner or later you’ll have to do some decorating. We firmly believe that artwork should lay the foundations for the rest of your interior design, but homeowners often select artwork as a result of existing interior design.
Not only does this hamper your artistic choices, but hanging paintings and photographs in non-ideal areas can cause irreparable damage.
The thing is, there’s more to finding the right pieces of art than simply matching colours and scale. The log burner creates enough heat to destroy a canvas, while the amount of sunlight on that stunning photograph could strip the colours away to nothing: basically, environmental considerations are just as pivotal as stylistic ones.
To that end, we wanted to share with you our top tips when it comes to selecting – and hanging – the perfect piece of art for your house.
Art as the Cause, not the Effect
Selecting artwork to match your room isn’t a problem per se, but that artwork should never be viewed as a secondary consideration. Secondary means lower priority, and if you aren’t careful, you could be putting valuable artwork at risk by forfeiting its pride of place in a room in favour of “whatever’s left”.
By creating an interiors concept that’s built around your artistic requirements, the options for the type and placement of your feature pieces are totally unlimited. You’ll reduce the likelihood of damage from improper hanging or inappropriate location, and give your artwork a pedestal in your home from which it can look its best.
Practical Considerations for Hanging Artwork
All great things come to an end – even artwork. There’s an inevitable certainty that paint will chip and crack, photographs will lose their lustre and that rot will begin to take root in even the most idyllic of conditions. To be frank, our homes never even approach those idyllic conditions.
We have developed techniques which can preserve a piece of fragile art for centuries, assuming no one ever needs to lay eyes on it, or touch it, ever. Your house is different – you need to be able to preserve your work without hiding it.
It’s an unfortunate truth that virtually all contemporary artwork will suffer if left in direct sunlight. It can cause some colours to fade, while others darken to the point that they become indistinguishable, effectively destroying the work. This effect takes time, but it should act as an incentive to hang such works out of direct sunlight.
If you have artwork which is particularly important to you – and which you still wish to display – then invest in a light meter and hang the work in areas with a light level below 200 lux. There are even smartphone apps which can do this if you need a cheap fix!
Heat and Humidity
Even more threatening than sunlight is heat and humidity; more specifically, variable heat and humidity. It doesn’t directly affect the paint itself so much as the canvas: wood and paper can contract and warp under fluctuating conditions, causing irrevocable damage.
The key to circumventing this issue lies in placement. Never place artwork directly above a heat source, such as a radiator, fireplace or incandescent lamp. It’s not just high temperatures either: hanging your favourite pieces adjacent to the windows is also a no-go: occasional droughts – in addition to the standard heat differential created by the window’s inferior thermal insulation – mean that artwork can be destroyed in as little as a few years.
Dust and Grime
The obvious factor here is that you shouldn’t give dust the time to settle on your artwork – regular, light maintenance should help take care of this. However, we’re all guilty of occasional negligence. A small covering of dust can actually start to react with wooden frames and cause them to rot.
Smoke, oil and soot are also terribly destructive to paintings, so keep any valuable pieces well clear of the kitchen. Not that you would do that after our warnings about temperature and humidity!
There is a startling variety of insects and minute pests which can wreak havoc on your artwork. These include powder post beetles which eat through solid wooden frames and carpet beetles which can chew their way through an actual canvas.
If you’re serious about maintaining your work, then always ensure you have pieces tested every few years for pests. To help prevent the possibility, we recommend keeping the surroundings of your artwork as squeaky clean as possible.
The Final Word
When it comes to populating your home with quality artwork, it can’t simply be a secondary consideration to sofas, rugs and plants. The spaces which are left may be conducive to damage, resulting in a massively reduced lifespan for the work. Instead, ensure that any redecoration has your artwork as its focal point: everything else will follow.