How to Live with Fine Art Fine Art Lifestyle Interiors Fine Art

Living with fine art can enhance everyone’s existence, whether one owns a major collection or one cherished object.  Not many homes are meant to be museums, and fine art can be integrated into daily life, even with children and pets, with just a bit of forethought.  The benefits and enjoyment of sharing fine works with your family and friends is priceless.

First, consider the work you own and then lifestyle that will be surrounding it. The architecture of your home will be a factor in decisions about how to display your fine arts collection.  Lighting and protection or conservation are also to be considered.  Kitchens and food-prep areas, and humid bathrooms are generally limited to only the most washable ceramics, glass, tile or small works in high and dry spots.

So, think about traffic in your home.  Is there a level of height that becomes safe from children and animals?  Are there any narrow and hazardous spaces, near doors or hallways that would disallow space for people to pass by or to permit carrying armloads of groceries, etc.  Avoid placing anything in obvious danger, no matter what the value.  Of course, fragile or valuable works should be placed in protective niches or specially featured spots.

Your most valued or striking works must be where you can enjoy them.  Over a mantlepiece or on a dominant wall is always good.  Lighting can be added if necessary, with many clip-on or painting-friendly lights available.  If you have a delicate or antique item, like a silk-painting or scroll or perhaps a colored print, you may want to consult an expert conservationist about proper lighting and temperature.  Indirect lighting, and certainly never direct sunlight may be preferred for the more fragile work.

Art should be seen.  Keep your items in full view, grouped if small enough, or isolated for a stronger impact.  Color, scale, and subject matter will guide you in finding the right, compatible placement.  Some people may plan an entire room around one special piece of art.  Or, most works can be adapted with coordinated framing, mats, or mountings.

Three dimensional work may require a bit more planning.  If you want to display anything that is breakable, take hint from the museums and create a sturdy platform, out-of-reach of little folks or pets, possible sheltered in a plexiglas box.  Niches and display cabinets are more choices for 3-D items.  Recessed lighting or spotlights can be added to show off the work.

Most homes can accommodate track lighting for flexible arrangements of art.  And you may want to consider a seasonal rotation of your collection. This can help conserve aged or precious items from wear and tear, as well as allow for more pieces to be seen in a limited space.  

Storage of artwork will require a few environmental efforts.  Plan on having a space with relatively cool, dry conditions, humidity-controlled if necessary.  If you have an air-conditioned home, this usually takes care of the displayed items, but be sure that your storage area is included.  Likewise, older, over-heated homes may need humidifiers in the winter. 

Many sculptures and some painted metal-art can be exhibited outdoors.  Again, check with the artist if there is any doubt.  Our acid-rains and climate changes may require the occasional cleaning, or protection from heavy snow or ice.  Plants, both indoors and outdoors, generally should be kept away from the fine art.  Outdoor works should not be allowed to collect water that could freeze and thaw.  Porches and patios, or special platforms are, again, your best bet for outdoor display.  Keep it all well away from the kids’ basketball hoop!

Keeping your artwork dust-free and clean, whether on display or in storage is another goal to remember.  Dust contains many oxidants and corrosive agents, and so is harmful to sculptures as well as painting surfaces.  Professional conservators can clean really dirty paintings, which are generally sealed with varnishes.  You can wipe off most sculptures with a damp cloth.  Always check into the materials and, if possible, consult the artist or dealer whenever in doubt.

Many worst-case scenarios can be repaired by professional conservators, or by the artist.  Yet, it is always a good idea to have some insurance on any art of value.  Most policies require a Fine Arts and Antiques rider, and these are usually reasonably priced.  Art was created to uplift and enhance your existence.  Never be afraid to live with your art.