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This is one of a continuing series of articles on discovering, buying, commissioning, and displaying
art.  If you would like to see more articles click on this link: WSG Articles


Room Color and Art

Several years ago, we invited some new acquaintances to the house for dinner.  I think that they were very interested in seeing what artists lived like.  You know how that goes; artists are out of the norm so naturally their home would reflect their weirdness.  Well the dinner was a success but the comments during dinner were a little telling of our new acquaintances.  Minerva (all names have been changed to protect the guilty), was of the opinion that all art had to be displayed on stark white walls with white ceilings to top it off.

This, according to her emphasis, was akin to the 11th Commandant given to Moses. Not just any white though – bright white.  Minerva took great umbrage at our living room walls being a semi-gloss red.  We do have a mostly white ceiling but there is also a mural on the ceiling – with (shudder naked) people in it.   Worse we also had artwork hanging on the red walls.  Needless to say, there was no reciprocal dinner invitation, nor have we seen them since.  Obviously, our tastes in home décor are, to be polite, dissimilar.

This is not a polemic on décor, but a reminder that there is more than one “right” way to use wall color to display art.  Plain white is perfectly okay for some homes and temperaments.  It gives a neutral backdrop so that the art can show through.  Plain white does make your home look like an art gallery and  a bit sterile (my opinion).   On the other hand, lots of different deep rich color tones in one room can be a problem also.  It is all a matter of taste, your personality, and how well you pull off the total effect.

There are some better slightly more adventurous solutions – without being totally daring -  to make a room more inviting and comfortable. These neutral shades also show off more of you as an individual and can give a differentfeel to the art you purchased for the room. 

Wall Color Choices

When choosing a white wall color; mix in a bit of a warm shade like red (very very little or you end up with pink) or a little yellow to warm the space up with.  This will produce a subconscious feeling of energy, liveliness, or movement. 

Another neutral shade to think about is a very light beige. Not coffee with cream – far lighter. Beige is a neutral color but not lifeless like stark white.   This is also a color that promotes calm. 

Think about picking a neutral shade such as a very pale gray – definitely not battleship gray.  Make sure that the gray that you pick has some red in it.  Grays can feel warm and enticing because of the warm red tints used in the paint.  Grays can be cold (blue in the paint mixture) and less inviting.  The bluer tones are good if you want to promote a feeling of quiet, calmness, thoughtfulness, etc.  If the gray tint is to dark it will make your room(s) look dingy. 


The ceilings are considerably easier though.  White is usually called for but not just any white.  To steal from a great source – Oprah – mix a slight tint of the wall color in the white for your ceiling.  The slight tint used in the ceiling white will bring the room together wonderfully. 

The hardest part is selecting a color for the walls.  For that, input from your spouse/significant other is called for; but only if they live with you.  If it is just you - do what feels right.  After all this is just paint not brain surgery on your Mother.  If you are not enamored with the color change it


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