When you think about planning the interior design of a room, you likely start with how that room will be used and what furniture you’ll put in it. Color and style choices are about those seemingly foundational bits. Things like upholstery art and other decor are usually the afterthought. And, as a result, they’re usually limited by the question of what “goes” with the rest of the room’s existing design vibe.
Let’s flip the script. What if, instead, you start with the art? What if you built your living room’s design style around your art?
Making a piece — or pieces — of art not just the focal point of your room but also the foundation of your interior design scheme allows you to turn your living room itself into a work of art. So then you get to live in a work of art. (Talk about artwork feeling alive, wow.) That’s what we’re exploring today. How to let your art guide the upholstery you choose and help you turn your living room into a work of art.
Setting The Stage For Your Design With The Art You Display
Art evokes. It makes us feel something. We go to museums to consider works of art, contemplate them, and experience them. And pieces that move you also say something about you, about your personality and perspective. Great interior design does that, too. But, too often, it’s an afterthought. Not today.
Let’s begin with a clean canvas, so to speak. Consider your living room as though it’s completely empty. And rather than begin to fill it furniture-first, imagine how you want to feel when you enter the room and when you’re lounging, entertaining, or however else you’ll use your living room.
Do you have artwork that evokes those feelings, that feels like you? Excellent. Look around the room and consider where it might really take center stage. This is less about rules and more about preferences. Yes, you’ll want to factor in things like natural lighting or possibly adding a spotlight of some sort. But really this is about marrying the functional flow of the room with your artwork so it can find a home in the most prominent area of the room.
Where you’ll display and how you’ll display your art then serve one another. And there’s virtually no limit to your display options once you’ve chosen your art and where you’d like to experience it. To get you on your way to creating your personal gallery, check out the truly comprehensive array of ideas Livingetc offers. Or these extraordinary art-centric homes from Galerie magazine. Their ideas range from creating a literal gallery wall to showcasing a single oversized piece — and all points between.
Give Your Artistic Treasures All The Attention With Neutral Fabrics
Next, it’s on to building your room around your new showcase. As usual, there’s more than one way to do it. But let’s start with the relatively obvious one: stay neutral.
Now, we said neutral, not bland. The idea is to use your furniture and other decor to build on and elevate the elements of your artwork.
Keep your furniture light and airy, and let your colorful or oversized art piece stay large and in charge of the design vibe. Like sofas in subtly diamond-patterned birch gray fabric. Paired with armchairs in frosty white performance velvet. Also works for artwork hung above your bed, standing out over your upholstered headboard, looking dreamy in quartz chenille.
But designing around your artwork with an eye toward neutral foundations isn’t only about whites, grays, and brown tones. In our recent post about wallpaper, we talked about the power of the perfect match — letting art pull visual and energetic focus by carrying one pattern or color through your furniture and walls.
Do that here as well. Take something like a clean, simple black-and-white abstract art piece and let it take flight with a sky-blue theme for the room. Sky blue walls, shelving, and curtains in fabrics like blue jacquard. Furniture in blue and white Wedgewood floral pattern and misty blue faux silk. (Architectural Digest got us super inspired to play with a scheme like this.)
You’re not limited to light colors, of course. Leaning neutral is simply about using base colors against which your artwork really seems to come alive. So experiment and see what works best for your treasures.
Your Art Is Your New Upholstery Design Style How-To Guide
Taking your space neutral helps give the art the stage. But there’s another — bolder — path. What if your living room could feel like it’s actually a part of your art?
With accent pieces, small and large, you can build on and amplify the elements of your artwork you love most. It’s kind of like you’re picking up where the artist left off and expanding the vision of the art itself.
Colors are a great way to do this. Instead of neutral or monotone colors, look at the color palette of your art. Is it a modern piece with vivid colors like yellow, red, teal, and black? Bring it off the wall and into your room. A loveseat in cardinal red and a mid-century modern upholstered, wood frame recliner dressed in teal chenille will lift those colors off the painting and into 3D glory.
Have you ever seen a painting and thought, “I could live there.” Well, yes, you could. Take a design cue from artistic themes.
Let’s say you’re showcasing a piece that offers a classical scene. Drawing inspiration from the color palette and the scene itself, bring it into your room with sofas in rich golden velvet and add curtains in traditional paisley-patterned merlot damask fabric. And seal the deal on your opulent new style with an upholstered ottoman in muted caper green velvet.
Taking design inspiration from your artwork frees you to make the experience of it more expansive and reflective of what it evokes in you. (You’ll find some inspiration for this approach from Elle Decoration — we sure did.)
That Time You Turned Your Living Room Into A Design Masterpiece
You know what’s fun? Being a grown-up. Ok, so it’s not always fun. But one fun thing about it is you get to do what you darn well please with your home’s decor. That includes flipping the script and making artwork that matters to you, not a decorative afterthought but the centerpiece of your living room’s style.
You can clear the canvas and take your upholstery and other decor in a neutral — even monotone — direction to allow your art to really get the attention it deserves.
Or use your piece as more literal inspiration and use its color palette in accent furniture. And carry the theme or general sensory experience of the artwork and reflect it directly in the textures and colors of upholstery you use in your space.