Design Recipes: How to make your walls works of art

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Great wall decor doesn’t have to be expensive. It also doesn’t necessarily have to be “art.” Wall decor is like that perfect belt or piece of jewelry for an outfit, a finishing touch that can make a room come to life. Whether your living environment is small or cavernous, finding the right art to fill your space may be a challenge.

Where to begin: Many people, unless they are perhaps collectors, don’t tend to swap out their artwork on a regular basis. For many, art is a one-time, large purchase to buy pieces they love that will remain a staple in their home for years to come. When wondering where to start, focus on your largest wall surface first and begin your search. Some great places to shop for affordable art include neighborhood galleries, art shows and even student showcases at local colleges and universities.

What to look for: Unless you are well-versed in art and the value associated with works created by certain artists, it is best to get advice from a professional. Even so, there are plenty of affordable solutions. Mirrors either hung by as a single piece of wall decor or placed in a series can make a bold and bright statement in a room. Mirrors and their reflective surfaces not only help bounce light, but can also act as windows in smaller spaces. Looking for ways to add color in your space? Why not select mirrors with metallic or colored frames? Don’t forget to pay attention to the image reflected in your mirrors, as what you reflect can be another opportunity to add a pop of color to your space.

Art Alternatives

Beyond mirrors, there are other affordable alternatives one can incorporate into their home to help tie a room together.

Art alternatives include:

■Framed photographs

■Framed pieces of fabric

■Framed scarves or decorative napkins

■Acrylic or resin panels

■Wall-hung elements such as candles or baskets

Overall do’s and don’ts

■Do hang your artwork at eye level — most people hang their artwork too high

■Do purchase pieces you intend to own for at least a decade

■Do hang large scale art pieces in large rooms

■Don’t purchase a piece of art that is too large or too small, a general rule of thumb dictates that an art piece should be 2/3 the size of the object below.

■Don’t purchase art that is trendy or that you will grow tired of.

■Don’t try to buy an extremely expensive piece of art unless you have professional knowledge relating to the value of the art you are attempting to purchase.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at