6 Main Things To Consider When Designing Your Home Art Gallery

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
Whether you just really love art or you're an avid collector, you may want to consider creating an art gallery in your home—a special place where you can display and enjoy your collections of paintings, sculptures, photography, or other treasures.

A residential gallery space can be large or compact. It can make up its own dedicated space or can reside in a small section of another room. Regardless of the size, it should be a place that inspires you and allows you to share your favorite pieces with your family, friends, and other visitors. Plus, it will allow you to enjoy the pieces on a daily basis in the comfort of you own home.

Here are some things to consider when designing a home art gallery. 

1. How large is your collection, and will it grow? 

The size and location of your designated gallery space will depend on the size of your collection and how many pieces you intend to hang on the wall or exhibit. If you’re looking to grow your collection in the future, then you’ll need to plan for that when choosing a place in your home. 

2. Lighting fixtures 

When selecting lighting, choose bulbs that won’t damage artwork over time. Some halogen bulbs can slowly burn away at the canvas or paint, so it's safe to choose lights with UV filters or LED bulbs. Ceiling-mounted accent lights are good options if you want the entire piece to be washed in light. Just point the lamp at a 30-degree angle towards the artwork so that it shines on the center and its beams spread across the artwork. If you’ll be moving your art around, track lighting might be a better choice as they offer many of the same benefits as ceiling-mounted accent lights, but can be moved around for easier re-installation. 

3. Sunlight 

Some types of art can withstand a little sunlight, whereas others can’t. Most oil and acrylic paintings can hold up pretty well when exposed to some sunlight, as long as there's no raw canvas. Watercolors and photography however, are vulnerable to fading with too much sun, so display these on a wall that's not directly facing an open window or skylight. 

4. Wall background paint or material 

The color and material of your home gallery walls will make a big difference in the way your collection is perceived. Consider the dominant colors within your artwork. Are you hanging an oil painting with bright fauvist colors, a black-and-white photograph, or a watercolor painting with a neutral-toned landscape? Also, think about the color of frames and borders before deciding on what color paint to use on the walls. Exposed brick and raw concrete walls can also work very well with certain types of art, so think about your options and choose a wall background that complements your pieces. 

If your collection varies a great deal on the color spectrum—perhaps half of your painting has dark colors while the other half has light tones—then a good solution is to paint one or two walls a different color to create a better contrast between the wall and the art that hangs on it. 

5. Play with layouts 

Before you start hammering nails into your walls, experiment with layouts until you find a composition that works best. You can explore possibilities by placing your artwork on the floor to get a feel of dimensions and spatial configurations. Establish your focal point (eye-level is best) and work your way from there. To create a better sense of context for your viewers, lay your art out to convey a narrative or "wall story." If you hang art over a sofa or chair, New York gallery owner Jen Bekman suggests leaving at least eight inches between the base of the frame and the top of the furniture. 

6. Select furniture that matches the color palette and mood of your collection

You might want to include a sofa or viewing bench in your home gallery, or you may even want to incorporate your collection into your living room, dining space, study, library, or bedroom. Ensure that your furniture or built-in cabinetry match the colors and style of your artwork.