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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
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We are back with another offensive design mistake – and when I say ‘offensive’ I mean that when it’s bad (really bad) it can be hard on the eye, sure. but, i’m also warning that this post may offend many. Our last 4 design mistakes have caused quite the controversy, occasionally making people regret recent purchases for their homes, but we are reviving our opinions and hoping that our expertise is worth the stress of the debate. If you haven’t already be sure to check out the other design mistake posts: The “Too Small Rug,” The “Generic Sofa,” Hanging Curtains All Wrong, and Bad Wood Finishes.

Here’s to hoping no hard feelings. And now, the worst design mistake is … (drum-roll…) Generic or bad art.

What does that mean, specifically? I’m glad you asked. In this post we will tally what are the most commonly hung generic bad art that you can easily avoid, and then will give you a great alternative for that same style.

First up? Generic prints of famous works. We all love the Mona Lisa, but calm down about it in your own home.

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genteric Art_Famous Art_Round up

Sure, it was once a great work (and the original still is). I know that we hang prints of paintings now, but there is something extra cheesy about a print of a masterpiece that everyone knows is a print. It’s a phone-it-in-piece, and we are officially hanging it up (God, so many puns in one sentence).

Exceptions – if you have a vintage poster of a gallery opening or one of a famous work being re-shown – like Calder in the 70’s in a Spanish museum or something of that kind… then that’s ok. But if it’s just a cheap print of a old-world master? Kiss it, dramatically, goodbye.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE me some serious old paintings or portraits as you can see:

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So much so that I put them under windows.

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That nude is ridiculously good (I believe from Dekor).

And these original paintings were by our client’s grandfather and oh so lovely.

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So what do you buy instead? Hone in on what you loved about that particular piece – that could mean that it’s a pretty landscape, a calming floral or an interesting portrait. A print of a super famous work feels redundant and reductive, whereas a print of a lovely contemporary painting feels fresh and respectful. Here are some we love that can be ordered and framed online (pricing depends on the size):

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genertic Art_Good_Landscapes_Florals_Roundup

1. Tzealim | 2. Ruth | 3. Mornings Away | 4. Weather Beaten | 5. Verdant | 6. Mediterranean Landscape | 7. Asian Woman | 8. Beach Days in Positano | 9. Bath | 10. Broad Shoulders | 11. Andrew | 12. Blue Hills | 13. Joshua Tree #5 | 14. Long Island Sound – Calm Water | 15. Beach Health Class 1933 | 16. Orange Lake | 17. Chasing Light | 18. Day’s End | 19. Sahara Trek | 20. Road Trip 2 | 21. Model9 | 22. Big Sky Country | 23. Evening Shore | 24. Spiced Cider

We get virtually all our original paintings from the flea market, ebay, etsy or chairish (mostly because original work by contemporary artist can be expensive – albeit absolutely worth it).

If you are anti-print or reproduction then here is a roundup of a lot of original one of a kind paintings that you can buy online in which we love:

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genertic Art_Good_Orignal Art_Roundup

1. Winter Sun | 2. Devoto Apples in French Primary Yellow and Grenade Red | 3. Untitled. | 4. Melancholy Winter Frozen | 5. Color Study I | 6. A great day for a walk Painting | 7. Nocturne | 8. Muizenberg 16 | 9. Cool Zone | 10. Modern Three Pears | 11. To the sea | 12. Baltic Sea

Culprit #2 – Mass Produced Abstract prints and photography. It’s hard to explain why a piece of art isn’t successful in our minds, but after tearing the internet apart one of the things we noted was that they didn’t have a strong point of view; that it wasn’t saying anything in particular, and was meant to feel like a “filler” piece. Think how stagers fill a house – art for the masses, taking no risk, and provoking no particular feeling.

This kind of stuff is what you want to avoid because it will dumb down your house and your personality.

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genteric Art_Mass Produced_Abstracts_Photography Round up

There are many retailers producing good art now, sure, but many are still doing a bad 90’s version of “ART”. You have options now. Etsy, Ebay, Minted, Target, Saatchi, Society 6 … all exist. Also there are these:


I love Max Wanger and his beautiful beach photography (Gray Malin has such pretty versions, too). These have limited editions, ensuring that they won’t be ubiquitous within weeks.

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We used a variety of abstract prints and photography above from Minted which were then framed by Framebridge, or buy something totally original like I did in Portland (for $80) and have it shipped down (for $200). It’s a huge piece and a bit of a risk for $280, but I love it so it was worth it.

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Here is a selection of abstracts and beautiful photography that we love and endorse. These are not generic, they are beautiful, provoke an emotion (a good one or even full of tension) and can be purchased online:

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genertic Art_Good_Absract Art_Inspiring Photography_Roundup

1. Little League | 2. Fleury | 3. Nike | 4. Neutral Labyrinth | 5. Roll With Me | 6. Framed Strokes Abstract | 7. Southern Cotton Series 4 | 8. Knox | 9. Going for a Swim | 10. Study 19 | 11. Framed Watercolor Abstract Blue | 12. Beast Coast | 13. Sealed Memories | 14. Banana’s Ripening | 15. Flora in B + W | 16. Emotion | 17. Winter Sky | 18. Seventy Tree Tropical | 19. Color Horizon | 20. Zodiac Tokyo Chum | 21. Troubled Waters | 22. Self Service | 23. Sushi | 24. Oxford Phenomenon 1

Generic art #3 to avoid: I know this was a huge trend but we are ready to send almost all of it to bed – BAD AND OR CHEESY TYPOGRAPHY:

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genteric Art_Typography Art_Round up

I also like to remind myself to brush, floss and watch the sunset, but are these worthy words to don your walls? Nay. I like some typography so how do you do it right? First off – avoid the placard and just have a print like a normal person.

We have used good typography before in the following projects:

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‘California Girl’ and ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ were both quotes that spoke to the client and we thought they were sweet in this girl’s room. I wouldn’t make them a huge feature in a room, but in the the shelves they are adorable.

Sara used this quote in her bedroom, which I love:

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I think they can be a lovely way to remind yourself of something – as long as it’s poignant, funny or compelling in SOME WAY. Mine could say something like ‘YOU ARE A NOT A BAD MOM IT’S JUST THAT YOU HAVE A 3 YEAR OLD AND THAT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. A good rule of thumb would be if it makes you smile or makes you think, then it’s worthy for the walls. But if it’s just a random quote or word … maybe skip it.

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Here are some that we like over at EHD, some are classics – and #10 will be in Charlie’s room because I love it so much)

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genertic Art_Good_Typography_Roundup

1. Ask More Questions | 2. HA Print | 3. California Girl | 4. Love Print | 5. Keep Calm and Carry On | 6. Framed Seasonal Fruit Vegetable Print | 7. Bien Venido | 8. It’s OK Banner | 9. Stewarts Drive In | 10. Work Hard & Be Nice To People | 11. Keep It Real | 12. Artisan | 13. Wherever You Are Is My Home | 14. I Did Not Join The Struggle To Be Poor | 15. Vancouver #5 (Smile) | 16. Oui Oui | 17. Los Angeles Elevations | 18. Play Typography A | 19. Zuma Beach Malibu no. 7 | 20. A Smile Is The Prettiest Thing You Can Wear | 21. Get In Loser

Next culprit? Bad diptychs and triptychs. I love two pieces that go together, but when the image is stretched over multiple canvas – separate yourself from it immediately (get it?).

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Triptychs_Canvas Art_Round up

Additionally make sure that you like the pieces individually, and that they can stand alone as their own pretty piece of art. Finding these bad diptychs online and making sure it’s not someone’s actual work (instead manufactured by a store) proved to be super challenging because we didn’t want to call out an individual artist. But generally if it says ‘dyptich’ or ‘triptych’ then shy away from it, instead opt for two pieces that you like on their own, but that have a similar framing and a similar color palette and style.

Brady used these two original and graphic abstract pieces here in his living room, which help to pepper around the black that he has in his beams and elsewhere in the space:

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Mel and her boyfriend bought these together, which I think are stunning. But again, although they work together they are pretty enough to stand alone:


We used Jaime Derringer’s prints in Nicolette’s makeover, and I loved how they filled out the space, worked together but were great standalone pieces.

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Just when I thought that I had a rule for Diptychs and Triptychs I found Orlando’s bedroom which had one photo, over four different frames and it looked AMAZING.


So there you go – it really depends on the piece/s and the styling of it.

The following roundup has some pieces that are sold together and some that are individually sold, that we paired with pieces. Usually the reason you do a pair or a trio is to fill out a wall without having to go all gallery wall with like 15 different pieces. These do simplify your life and can help make a room look really pulled together.

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genertic Art_Good_Diptychs_Triptychs_Roundup

1. Sea Stones | 2. Three Again (top) / B & W Ode 4 (left) / Stones (right) | 3. Framed Print Mask III & IV | 4. Dotted Geo Framed Prints | 5. Framed Nautical Flags | 6. Framed Watercolor Blue Abstracts | 7. Study 13 (left) / Untitled 2 (right) | 8. 3 Piece Shape up Collage Set | 9. Framed Blue Textile Art | 10. Framed Pattern Abstract Blue | 11. SGRAFFITO No. 422 (left) / SGRAFFITO No. 317 (right) | 12. Silver Cloud | 13. A Little Taste of Your Soul (left) / Close on White (right) | 14. 2 Piece Pink Stripes Painting Set | 15. Untitled 1 (left) / Untitled 1b (right).

Last one …. which will probably bum the most people out but everyone in the office agreed with this mistake, so we grew a collective pair and decided to make it public.

Stay away from Canvas Wrapped PRINTS. Like these:

Emily Henderson_Design Mistake_Genteric Art_Canvas Art_Round up

Yes, this does even include family photos. The reason is that by wrapping them around the back they are trying to look like canvas paintings, and they are not. I understand that many an online company sell, and will upload and “frame” your photos like this and it can be more affordable than getting something framed (although these days what with Framebridge and Simply Framed we have so many more affordable options). You can buy a painting with the canvas wrapped around the side – because that is often how the painter painted it, but if the printed image goes around the back, its a no-no in our book.

Don’t get me wrong, I like family photos displayed around the house:

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And if you have a lot of canvas’ that need framing we get them done like this – all floating style, with no mat, glass or anything (Framebridge did these).

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These frames of Sylvia’s family (below) were purchased at Target – there are a lot of ready made options out there. We even did an entire roundup of readymade frames.

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Well, I hope you are still with me, that you still like us and that you aren’t staring at your walls realizing that you’ve lived with a canvas-wrapped-triptych of Mona Lisa this whole time. If Rachel Zoe told me to stop wearing scrunchies, I would thank her.

Ultimately if it makes you happy in any way, then go for it. Don’t let us and our style rules dictate what makes you smile. We hope more people support artists or the companies that collaborate with artist, which is why we included not just a criticism, but also many, many good options.

*VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE: If you watched hometowns last night you’ll see EXACTLY what we are talking about. The houses were obviously just set apartments (except Corrine’s and Vanessa’s) and they put ‘cleared’ art on the wall. It’s art that is made to just be a ‘filler’ and its faux paintings, etc. So you are wondering specifically what we want you to avoid, watch last nights Bach.

If you want to shop for art but nothing above tickles your fancy, then head on over to our ultimate online art roundup (or get yourself to the flea market), and if you have a lot of family photos to frame then head to our best readymade frame roundup, or think about one of the new online framing companies for anything special or custom-sized (we use Framebridge a lot – see here and here, but we just ordered some from Simply Framed and we’ll let you know how they come when we receive them).

So are you mad or grateful? Do you agree or think we are just the most pretentious design snobs ever? In case you want to know what else we think everyone is doing wrong check out these design mistakes;  The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting a Small, Dark Room White | How To Hang Art Correctly | How to Hang Curtains | Bad Wood Finishes | Anything “Antiqued” or “Faux Old”. And if you think there is a design mistake we need to cover on the blog or have questions about then let us know below.

  1. Fun round up – and in keeping with the “spirit of new politics” – if I were to have a quote in a frame for 2017 is would be #resist

    You also missed out buying hideous art from the pavements in global cities (London, Paris etc.) that is mass produced in China and trying to look like an original oil painting.

    Link here to what I mean http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/5fa9e8ba3f6f4cee99c7a41b5f7002fb/paintings-for-sale-on-the-railings-of-green-park-along-piccadilly-dcgney.jpg

    1. Maybe I should have also added that I have art in my home that I enjoy looking at because it reminds me of people I love and places I have been. Some are antique, some are contemporary, some are local artists and some are mass produced posters. I rotate them regularly as it gives me joy to see them in different settings. I have bought a lot of art from my brother-in-law, Erwan Bezie, who is based in France. He is a website designer by day but art is his passion and he also sells on-line. Website here http://www.sketchpowder.com/

      1. I couldn’t agree more!

        I think you should surround yourself with things that mean something to you — if you’ve been into Monet all your life, why not? If something speaks to you, if it reflects part of your personality, then that is the right thing. For me, good artwork reveals something new each time I look, it doesn’t grow tired or predictable.

        And really — “Keep calm and carry on”?

  2. BRILLIANT article. Your best ‘design mistakes’ one yet I think. I agree with all of them… and amazingly, don’t think I’ve been a culprit to any in my own house. Result!

    PS The line about the scrunchie made me fall off my chair laughing.

  3. How can I send this to my family members without them knowing it came from me?

    Also you missed one. It’s hard to describe but those kind of generic landscapes or florals with overly fancy frames that scream “look how much money and how fancy I am” without having any taste or charm. Think: Thomas Kincaid.

      1. That’s a hoot! I love it! I wouldn’t hang it in my house, but it’s good for a laugh.

      2. omg that is amazing

    1. Yes! I was thinking the same, like oops I shared this on Facebook, please read it family 🙂

    2. Yessssss! The worst

  4. Seems silly to get upset. Rules are made to be broken, and I’m sure everyone would agree that if it’s working for you and makes you happy in your home, then it’s a definite “do.”
    But it’s important to know which rules you might be breaking…especially when your gut is telling you something isn’t working for you or making you happy in your home, but you aren’t sure what’s wrong. I’m down with these posts.

  5. I love this! Thanks for the advice. I’m guilty of two of these but not at all offended… that’s why I consult the expert. Thank you for all of the fabulous art recommendations!

    1. Yes! Guilty on a couple of them, but SO glad I got the advice. (I was proud of myself for being “on board” already with most of them, thanks to all my exposure to style on this website – I used to be guilty of many more.) Grateful – Not offended at all!

  6. Do you always leave the glass in picture frames?

  7. Yes yes yes! You are doing the right thing here! Thank you!!!

  8. Does it make you feel something? That to me is the reason to surround yourself with art. Not because it’s trendy. Not because you saw it on a blog. I don’t feel anything when I look at abstract paintings. They just don’t speak to me. I do think this roundup does a great job of showing that art doesn’t have to be just one thing. It is and should be personal. To me that’s the difference between good and bad. If it’s personal to you — reminds you of a vacation or a travel goal or a sunset or whatever — then go for it.

    1. Right on!
      Beauty and emotion are always in the eye of the beholder.
      I love the tips here but I’m not so hard on prints of famous artwork. If it means something to you…if it moves you…then I think prints are just fine. Just put it in a nice frame 🙂

    2. Same. I am not feelin’ modern art.

      1. Do you mean contemporary art? Abstract or non-objective? Because almost nothing in this post constitutes modern art, it’s all contemporary.

  9. Thanks for this excellent post! I have two pieces of Ikea art (both Klimt re-prints, the ubiquitous oblong wrapped canvas and a new copy they sell of the Virgin) and they drive me nuts mixed in with my nicer art, but they’re v. huge and go with the rest of my stuff and I just can’t afford better for now… someday!

  10. So I am guilty of a couple of these. I have a few prints of famous works…but I only buy them at the museum after I have seen them in person and speaks to me, so it’s my souvenir of the visit, is that allowed? Also, I took some of my own photographs of my husband’s ancestral home that I then photoshopped into a triptych and gallery wrapped, so I’m calling it my own work of art and leaving it as such.

    In general, great roundup – I’d say do what brings you joy and speaks to you personally.

    1. I was going to say something similar. I have famous art prints that remind me of a visit to a particular museum or place e.g. Monet’s Versailles because I’ve been there and the print reminded me of the place.
      Also some prints or framed postcards because I love that particular painting and the print acts as a reminder of how I felt standing in front of the original. In that sense it’s no different to the coffee table book.
      Although I remember the Buffy goes to college episode where the vampires killing students took bets on whether it would be Monet or Klimt in the dorm room ?

      1. I think that this can be done well, and I think that if you can have the name of the museum or gallery where you bought it then it says something different. – its not trying to equate to be the original, its an important souvineer! Also coffee table book from that museum or artist is also a good substitute!

      2. I was in the Monet camp–Monet and Renoir in my dorm room! I was so thrilled to buy those posters in the student center, having grown up in a small town with no exposure to fine art!

  11. ABSOLUTELY agree to all of these, even though I had a lot of bad art in my apartment when I first got married! Thankfully, my taste has matured over the years and I really take my time when looking for art for my walls. I will say that your design mistakes posts have helped with that, so thank you!

  12. Snobs everywhere, rejoice! One more thing to look down your noses at when you are in someone’s home.

    1. You’re on the wrong blog, girl (& being a snob yourself…).

    2. I’m picky, not snobby and there is a huge difference. There are so many good affordable options out there – so why buy a mass produced faux painting that provokes no emotion just to fill your wall? Its our intent to help, not offend (as I stated over and over and over in the post). And it is also our job to be picky, thorough and a respected resource of good design. So glad so many people are responding so positively!

      1. I love this! “Picky, not snobby”. It’s going to be my new line! My pet peeve is photo collage frames with sayings like, best friends or family written on them. Ugh! BTW Emily, please keep doing these posts! 😉

      2. I do think it’s snobby because how can you know what provokes emotions in others? Maybe Van Goghs do it for many and that’s why they’re reproduced so much. I know some of your thrift store art finds and old flags provoke emotions in me that are negative, but they make you happy, I presume, so whatever.

        It’s not being helpful to criticize others’ taste in art. It’s insulting.

        I’m just being picky about my blog content and trying to be helpful, though! (Doesn’t that kind of make it worse? LOL)

        1. So why are you looking at a design blog if you don’t want to listen to a professional weigh in on what makes for design-worthy art?

      3. Not a criticism, but just not following one area that you’re speaking to: in the area of “mass produced” I get that (side eye at world market) What confuses me is that you’re also showing/recommending selections from Target, pottery barn, etc…. Can you clarify your message? Are you basically saying “massed produced=bad, unless I like it”? (cheekiness unintended)

        1. Although I appreciate the intent of this post, this exact thought/question entered my mind as well.

        2. True. I was confused,too, by the buy this mass produced stuff (from my sponsors?), but not that mass produced stuff from (not my sponsors?).

      4. My mass produced print of typography is better than your mass produced print of typography. It is the tone of the post that is snobby. I love your blog Emily and read it every day, but this one is a little tone deaf.

      5. No, you’re a snob pretending not to be one.

      6. I suppose you could always add that every rule can be broken in the right circumstances. The Thomas Mangelsen gallery in Park City has one of his winter Birch tree photos on canvas and huge inside the vestibule. When you first walk in, it feels like you walked through a portal to the forest. No framed print would ever achieve that feeling that you are immersed in the actual piece. Of course if you can take photos like him, you can do whatever you want.

    3. I don’t think this is about going into someone else’s house and criticizing their choices. It’s about honing in on your own choices and helping you make some decisions for your personal style. Take it or leave it.

  13. Great post. I am in total agreement.

  14. shill shill shill

    The art in your own home looks both cheap and unattractive so you doing a whole post about art, which clearly you know very little about, is rather amusing.

    Stick with what you know: mid century

    Shill shill shill

    1. Is your genre underground chambers with inky black water because you stick with what you know? #trollwatch

      1. EXACTLY. People who don’t like her opinions don’t read her blog…

        Can we include hanging dozens of badly posed family snapshots in mismatched overly fancy frames on every wall of your home as “bad art” because it’s certainly tasteless. My MIL has ruined her home with such things.

      2. Don’t call anyone who is not a yes-man a troll. It makes you look like a toadie.

    2. Well that is your opinion. As an art student I think Emily has a lovely taste in art as she does in interior design, fashion etc. Some people just have it.

      There is no reason to get offended (and you clearly did) by this post. She is just helping people make their homes even lovelier (and that is her JOB). I think it is great that someone points these things out and makes you look at your home, art, furniture, curtains etc. different way, and realize if something was wrong all along.

      Thanks Emily, such a great post!

      1. I have an MFA so I do know a bit about art. But then Emily does have a degree in History and a blog so I guess she knows more about art than most. This post ( like most ) is about page clicks and not much else.

        1. If you feel like you have to leave comments like that in someone else’s blog post, you should at least justify your words. What was wrong with Emily’s opinions? What would you think is “the right kind of art” and what isn’t? Why is that? Honestly your comments seem angry and offended.

        2. i’m seriously asking this–it’s clear that you view emily, her brand, her blog, or just her views in such a vile manner. so, why are you on her page? i only read blogs i enjoy, so i’m always curious when someone comments with something so nasty on a blog page that they don’t need to read.

        3. Then why are you reading her blog? No one forced you to click through and read the entire post, or to come here at all. Having an MFA doesn’t make you more qualified than anyone else to give an OPINION about art as a form of decoration for your home. Are you disagreeing with her OPINION because you think framed prints of the Mona Lisa or generic wrapped canvases are great? Or are you disagreeing to be contrary?

    3. Ooh someone’s mad!

      1. Hope you’re doing OK with your student loan debt and very kind of you to give Emily those page clicks you think she wants so badly.

    4. Yikes. Manners please. This is her blog, her opinion. No need to be nasty.

    5. the best part is that the time-stamp on your comment shows that you commented a mere 54 minutes after it was posted, which means you were on the lookout for emily’s post. so why read if you hate her so much?

      1. Thanks, Everyone. Seriously. Publishing these posts is always nausea inducing, and we reread through them so many times to make sure that we are not just saying ‘that is bad and that is bad and that is tacky’ but instead saying ‘avoid’ and giving so many, many, many options. Options that are actually GREAT for the art world. We are promoting real artists, and companies that are partnering with real artists to help people’s homes look pretty (and on a budget). I have never ever ever said that i’m an art expert, but I do know a design mistake when I see one. And every now and again I get the guts to tell you all about it. Thanks so much for the support!!

    6. Jennifer – it is obvious you are particular about art because it is your area of expertise. Where I think you may have gone wrong is that Emily’s post is about avoiding “generic” art. There is good art, bad art, and generic art. I think Emily can and would make the argument that even if art is bad, its still better than generic. You know how sometimes you see a furniture piece that is so ugly, its fascinating and you just have to bring it home? Art can be that way, too.

      For art aficionado’s for whom great art is a passion, I’m sure it can grate on your nerves when you see cheap art. Emily’s post isn’t about what makes a piece of art good or bad – its what makes a piece of art generic. There is a difference. In the interior design world – generic is bad, whereas bad (ugly) can sometimes be good. For example – my friend has this floor lamp with a shotgun for its base that most would deem absolutely hideous. However, in her mid-century, tastefully decorated home – its actually quite fabulous.

      1. That’s a great point: avoid the generic. Emily likes a healthy dose of whimsy and/or “weird.”
        Having an MFA means you DO know more about art, so yeah, what you choose for your own home will be different from what Emily chooses.
        My husband has an MFA and is a fine artist. He does not read this blog. He would not appreciate Emily’s taste in flea market portraits. I honestly don’t care for them either, but it’s Emily’s house and she enjoys those paintings. It’s just one point on which Emily and I differ, but I respect her opinion. I value her work, but I don’t have to like every single thing she does or agree with everything she says. I wouldn’t want to.
        By the way, check out my husband’s site (shameless promotion): chaomasart.com

      2. Emily doesn’t like “generic” art work and yet shills for target.

        1. Lol! Its a decent point, but personally I think there is a difference between mass market and generic. The pieces that she chose for this section are certainly at risk of being ubiquitous depending on their popularity, but the Target pieces will still feel less generic than a Thomas Kincaide or Starry night print because these prints will eventually be discontinued and new ones brought out and will never reach the level of exposure those examples have. Emily’s job is provide a wide range of options that will suit a wide variety of lifestyles and budgets – including someone who prefers shopping from a place with a decent return policy, a limited budget, and who cares or knows nothing about art. Personally, I’ve avoided art from Target, though, because I majored in Art in college and its something I’m more picky and passionate about. But, I’m not going to fault Emily for recommending it because I know there are people who want a cute home, who could care less about art ,and are appreciative of having cheap options out there that they can run out and buy from a store 10 minutes away. Maybe I can appreciate this post a lot more because I live in the suburbs of Utah where 95% of the art in homes falls into these categories and I believe Emily’s recommendations, even the mass market pieces, would be an improvement over what they do have. I’m sure if you were to write this post, its possible your selections would be even better. I think Emily did an excellent job considering art is more of a hobby for her than something she specializes in. Those who are more serious about their art will probably seek out opinions and ideas elsewhere. I think you should stop being bothered so much by her Target recommendations, though. Its a good source of income for her and I haven’t found that its compromised her design choices in any way. Everything she’s used by them in the rooms she’s decorated has been perfectly chosen and its made me feel that a beautifully decorated house doesn’t have to be filled with designer pieces (as someone who has notoriously expensive taste, I so appreciate this). She’s made good design more attainable and affordable design more appealing and I will always love her for that.

          1. Can I just “like” the above comment.

        2. Jennifer, who employs you.. who do you shill for? Furthermore are you brave enough to publicly defend your decisions, career, expertise to the entire internet and it’s trolls?

          1. I disagree with Emily, I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is a personal choice. But! Emily is always respectful even to those who love to bring others down. She is entitled to her voice the same as you are, Our opinions can be expressed but please do it in a kind and respectful way.

          2. I work for myself. Don’t need a blog; don’t want a blog. I’m not desperate, Bottom line: emily dislikes ‘generic’ yet shills for Target. The life ins urance post was bulkhead too. BTW, I paid off my school loans long time ago.

          3. I am glad you work for yourself Jennifer since no employer would want to hire a resource with the manners and attitude you have. This is a polite, well-written article expressing the views of the blogger. You can agree or disagree with them but truly, it is none of your business who Emily works with and how she makes her money and for you to judge her on it. You clearly spent time reading this article and commented MULTIPLE times, so you clearly can’t seem to walk away.

  15. Fantastic article! I appreciate articles like this that allow for design mistakes to be highlighted, but you also provide instances where your critique is exemplified noting where it does and does not work well.

    As a follow-up what are your thoughts on self-produced art? I tend to produce more paintings than I know what to do with. Your part about applying trim to the wrapped canvas is particularly interesting since that would apply to the art pieces I generate.

    But as a challenge to that point, there are some paintings where the wrapped canvas that isn’t fully painted has a particularly meaningful touch to it. It remains “unfinished” and it aids to the interpretation of the work. Would you say that the artwork should still have a border applied to it, which could take away from the message of the art?

    Best regards,

    1. Nick, my un-asked-for opinion is that un-framed original canvas paintings are cool as they are, as long as they look finished…no staples showing or what-not.

      It just depends on the look you’re going for and where it will hang in relation to other things…but the canvas on it’s own is cool in the same way that leaning, rather than hung, art is cool.

      1. Nick and Anon, you are right! As long as its not a PRINT but is a painting then you can wrap, and show the wrap – whether there is a painting on the side or not. Its just when it is a mass manufactured print (copy) trying to be a painting that we take issue. Does that help?

  16. Finished reading this thinking I’m okay and then really thought about it.

    In my living room I have:
    1) A framed Kandinsky print (hand me down from Mom). The frame is gorgeous and goes really well with the print and I have loved it for over 15 years.
    2) An abstract diptych canvas set (Ebay purchase – not mass produced) – This was my first art purchase as an adult. I do like them individually and I’ve hung them side by side and vertically over the years.
    3) Framed Typography “Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken”. That’s in my bookshelf and I think words in a bookshelf work, plus my bookshelves are somewhat crammed with books so it breaks things up a bit.

    Lol – maybe other people read them as bad/tacky, but I love them so they stay.

    1. There are exceptions to every rule!!! Its just a guideline and to provoke thought while shopping but don’t worry!!!

    2. I think you are actually clearing all of Emily’s suggestions:

      1) She said famous art prints are ok if they are meaningful to you – so check;
      2) diptichs are ok if they work individually – so check;
      3) Typography is ok if if speaks to you and is poignant/funny – so check.

      Relax, you guys, and read the whole post, not just bullet points ^_^

      1. I promise I was not upset at all. I thought it was funny that I read through the post agreeing with Emily and then realize that I hit several of the items in 1 room. It’s not a coincidence that I’ve had my “offenders” 10+ years. I’ve gotten rid of others over time and now I do a lot more on Craigslist. Also, I haven’t seen the app Vango mentioned here. It has original works by artists and I’m kind of obsessed. I haven’t made a purchase partly because I’m afraid it will be addictive any I’ll go overboard.

  17. Haha! Amen to ALL of it. I was chuckling to myself while reading. THANK YOU for setting the record straight! The world needs more posts like this. ? My favorite line, “I also like to remind myself to brush, floss, and watch the sunset, but are these worthy words to don your walls? Nay.” ??? I had to screen shot it so I could remember that line forever.
    Great tips, great resources, and great post. You guys do such a good job!

  18. Enjoyed this very much. I did too much of the no’s in my 20’s and early 30’s. Took awhile but I got it now. Thanks!

  19. I had a friend that hang the Monalisa in her bathroom and it was a hoot to find. So maybe that’s another exception. If it’s done in a cheeky way;)

    1. I thing so too.

      1. Totally agree 🙂

    2. Isn’t there something in the original Annie movie where Daddy Warbucks hangs The Mona Lisa in the bathroom? And Annie says something along the lines of, “if you like me…could you hang me in the bathroom?” Your comment brought back that very, very vague memory…

    3. I love, love, love the idea of using world-famous artworks in a cheeky way !

      I’ve lost a lot of family members these past years, and have been emptying homes of their belongings, and one thing struck me: everyone had a version of The Last Supper. I have a huge 50’s print, a black-and-white version, a very small metal plaque, all representing that famous artwork. I’ve been thinking about reuniting those long-lost siblings and creating a “Wall of Tacky Suppers as collected by my extended Family across at least five Decades”.

      I wanted to add my own version, maybe a cross-stiched one to add some more kitsch (because I feel the more the better in this case).

      Anyway, I do love these articles. I understand while they can be controversial, but I love them anyway, way better than some sponsored posts. It’s refreshing to get such an opinionated point of view. Love it !

    4. That reminds me of the George Washington joke from the Lincoln movie!

    5. I think we’ve broken most of these rules at home but feel confident enough we’ve broken them in cool ways 😀

      I have seen a fabulous cabin in a rural garden, with sliding glass doors all across the front of the building, and the entire back wall inside is a giant Mona Lisa mural. Amazing seeing the enormous image looming through the trees 🙂 And I think the instant recognisability is what makes it work

    6. I have a friend who had a portrait of King Louis XVII in her bathroom. Hilarious.

  20. Love this! I wasn’t familiar with Saatchi art, so I’ll check them out. I’m guilty of having canvas photos of our kiddos in the playroom… However, all other art in the house is original; I love finding pieces at estate sales and think original art adds so much to a room. Also, this post is timely because did you see the bad art on hometown visits on The Bachelor last night? 🙂

    1. OMG SARAH!!! I was going to update the post with the exact same thing – the art on hometowns was the exact art that I’m talking about. It was obviously just filler art that could be “cleared” but it was devoid of ANY personality and was just hideous. I’m going to update the post now!

      1. WAIT WAIT WAIT…..you’re telling me the hometowns are fake set apartments? I feel like my world is crumbling (kind of like when I learned that people on House Hunters had decided pre-taping. Everything is a lie.

        1. AGREED! WHAT? Do you mean that those are their houses/apartments but they switched out the real art/family photos for generic filler? Or they really use some random house for the visit? I need more info on this!

      2. Oh my. Is this someone’s home your speaking of? I don’t watch that show. Are you sure this is the same Emily Henderson blog I have been reading for years? (The Emily Henderson who started out so sweet and humble) Has someone else taken over your blog? Who is this person? I don’t recognize you anymore. The art was hideous? Really?

  21. “For Like Ever” is from WWII??? Please tell me you meant to write that about “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Just doesn’t sound “greatest generation” to me.

    1. Yeah, I was surprised by that too. I bought that print after I saw it in Domino (in 2006?) and my mom’s reaction was, “WTF is this? Can I throw it away?” I think it was from a graphic designer, not history.

      1. Equally confused by the WWII reference on the “For Like Ever” print.

      2. Oh dear god it was supposed to be Keep Calm and Carry On. You are totally right. I literally couldn’t scramble to edit that faster. Thank god for commenters. I like ‘for like ever’ and I do think it has a place, but I’m an absolute idiot and was writing to fast and in my mind it was Keep Calm and Carry On (which I do think is a classic, despite its HUGE uptick in trend 10 years ago). Thanks for point that out and i’m so sorry about the confusion!!

        1. This was a great post and very helpful – if for no other reason than providing great resources! It did inspire me to rethink my art choices, so thanks!

          However, I have to respectfully disagree with the selection of “Keep Calm & Carry On” as a classic – I think it is EXACTLY the kind of generic statement art that we should avoid, given its ubiquity. I feel like I can’t look at a design blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account without seeing it at least ten times a day!

          1. 1 million percent agree with you Helen. I can’t think of a more generic typography poster than the “Keep Calm & Carry On” ones.

    2. Pretty sure she was joking

  22. This is an amazing post and I agree with everything! My question is what to do when you love art but have a small cape cod style house that doesn’t have a lot of walls for hanging said art. Is there a rule about how much to pepper around so you don’t look like you live in a museum. I like gallery walls and art ledges but is there a rule about having one of those in a room and then how much other art you can hang in the same room on other walls? Help!

    1. Such a good question. Over the weekend I was looking at Thomas O’brien’s book that is mostly on the east coast with insanely beautiful classic-meets-modern homes and there is salon gallery walls from floor to ceiling in every room. I say if you have good art, you can’t go wrong how you style it. However, generally what we do is do multiple pieces next to one big piece. We just hung a ton of art in the clients living room last week and we have one huge gallery wall, one wall with a big photograph on it, and a big beautiful mirror above the mantle. But like I said, if you have gorgeous art don’t let it sit on the floor because you are worried about hanging too much. It will make your room look busier which can make it look smaller, but I also find it totally inviting and full of soul. xx

      1. I was just reading this comment and thinking I would LOVE to see a post about your favorite coffee table / design books! I’m always checking out what’s on the shelves in tours.

        1. I agree! I was just noticing that with the pink Alexa Chung book on the vignette of her dresser. Books are so tough because I don’t want to buy a book just because it’s the right color but obviously want to buy a book to read, too. It would be awesome to have a “pinks and corals”, “blues and greens”, “blacks and whites”, “neutrals” roundup of pretty coffee table books!

        2. Agreed! Another vote for this, if the team is taking requests!

  23. I think it’s 100% fine to throw some Mona Lisa post cards into frames to fill out a gallery wall or fill a small space – especially if you purchased said post cards from a famous museum/on a memorable study abroad trip (post cards are such an affordable souvenir). I would rather display them than pack them away to be forgotten. Love the round up though – off to spend some $ on new art I definitely need!

  24. Right on! Couldn’t agree more with your take on art. Keep it original and interesting.

  25. Great post! I have my own ‘rules’ for art in my house: I think if it makes your “heart sing” then it’s a keeper 🙂 That doesn’t mean it has to be a “happy” artwork, just something that makes you feel something. I commissioned an original painting from a (now very) popular artist a few years ago at a very reasonable price. But it just never made me happy to look at. In hindsight I shouldn’t have gone ahead with the purchase. I ended up selling the artwork for the price I paid, and now her prints are the same price as what I got an original for! But I don’t regret selling it, because the piece didn’t make my “heart sing”.

    1. Yes! If you see it and it speaks to you and you want to tear it off the walls and hold it on your arms to assure nobody else steals it away… by all means buy that baby, hang it in your foyer and let your heart rejoice everytime you view it!

  26. “For Like Ever” is definitely not from WWII. I think you’re thinking of “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

    1. And how keep calm and carry on has been co-opted for quote prints is the absolute worst! England’s chin up attitude during active WAR is inspiring (and the design of the slogan is lovely!) but pretending it relates to our “chaotic” modern life (or need for coffee, shopping etc. etc.) is just, no. This one gets my goat every time!

    2. YES. I may have yelled that at my screen. 🙂

  27. Trying to define what is “good” art as opposed to “bad” art reminds me of the line, ” I can’t define pornography but I know it when I see it!” But hats off to the attempt! Mostly agreed with your observations and love your blog!

  28. Wonderful post and could be retitled How to Buy Art You Will Love. This topic is near to my heart. I am an artist and I am regularly asked by friends and those who purchase my work to help with selecting art for their homes. Buying art is clearly intimidating to many people and brings up insecurities about the very topics you discuss — no one wants generic art, no ones understands how much to pay to for art, no one wants to buy work and then regret their choice.

    My advice always centers on trust and connection: trust what you like (there is no right and wrong) and chose things you have a connection with (whether it be by subject or emotion). Every house looks better with art on the walls and shelves. I would argue it even looks better with generic art than no art at all.

    1. So agree with the bit about having a connection with the art! When I see a piece that I like, I know in an instant! There are times when I pass on something and then it nags at me until I finally return to the shop to purchase it, but more times than not, I know in an instant!

  29. Buy what you love, no matter how original or copied or vintage or trendy it is. Your love for it will be reflected in your style. I think the key is to avoid buying “fill in” pieces that you buy just to take up space and don’t speak to you. Thanks for these tips, EHD!

  30. Agree!!! One thing I don’t know if I will ever understand, though, is a painting that is gorgeous but covered by a vignette on a table, like that lovely boat painting by your client’s grandfather. I’m glad to see the top one and I want to move all of the stuff on the table to see the bottom.

    Amen and thank you to the no-no on typography. If I see one more “House Rules” screaming at me I am going to scream back!

  31. I have not been able to get on board with quote and phrase prints of any kind. Even the “OK” ones here leave me feeling “meh”–like they are trying too hard for a look or mood. (Quote prints also remind me of the early Pinterest days). If your home is saying loudest what you tell it to say with a quote, I think you’ve missed something special about interior design–space and color and texture do the talking, that’s what makes it magical!

    1. I totally get your line of thought – and I especially like what you said about letting the space and color and texture do the talking. But there’s something about lettering prints that really draws me. There’s something about FONTS, even, that draws me. I actually can spend hours on sites like “fonts.com” looking at the different fonts people are coming up with. I know too much about different artists who have made a living developing beautiful/interesting fonts, what their different ‘releases’ are, etc.!! Since I’m drawn to lettering so much, that lends itself to having some simple phrase prints.

  32. Original art at auction goes for insanely low prices, even if it is a listed artist. I have gotten stuff for 10 bucks that would make you swoon. The trick is to go to your local auction often. You will meet some new people, have some fun, and eventually get some deals of a lifetime. Avoid auctions that have online bidders.
    The best part is I can sell it off on Ebay when I lose interest. I recently sold a 10 dollar acquisition for $480.

  33. Great article.
    I’m very fortunate because my husband is an extremely talented contemporary artist (oil on canvas / originals only) and our home is filled with his creations, so I haven’t had to struggle with these issues since before we met. Although now I think that if I really had to fill my walls and had no budget for it – I would purchase a large canvas and let loose with some paint! Just that real artist grade canvas frame makes a good start I think.

    PS – is it shameless promotion if I include his website here 😉

    1. Tell us! 🙂

    2. Rebecca, beautiful work and I love that he is a Canadian artist. Is his work only available via Gallery?

  34. I am an art history professor and agree with everything you suggest, but please add to your list no “copycats”. Itzu Rimmer’s is “highly reminscent” of Ori Reisman’s work, and to any Israeli, such as my self, his work would look cheap.

    See Reisman’s work here:

    1. I agree. Those beach photographs are fairly derivative of http://www.massimovitali.com too. I am sure Massimo wasn’t the first to photograph people at the beach either, but he did bring a different perspective. I do love these, but this style seems to have saturated the interiors market a bit at this point.

    2. I feel like dismissing someone’s art is because it is “highy reminiscent” of someone else’s is questionable. As an artist and art history major myself, I’d like to make the case that all artists are influenced by others. No one makes work in a vacuum. Can anyone make anything truly new? I’m sure that Reisman was influenced by a ton of artists who made similar work. Maybe Rimmer considers Reisman a major influence! And maybe he has never even seen Reisman’s work and no idea who he even is. How is that a copycat?

      I definitely understand not supporting something that is true rip off or entirely derivative, but this is such a grey area, especially for proplr who are not art experts.

  35. I have a question that’s been plaguing me for a while now. Can you buy art that depicts places you’ve never been or have no real connection to? Is that weird? For example, if I find a really cute vintage painting of Tokyo and I’ve never been or have any real connection to Tokyo, would it be weird if I bought it? It feel inauthentic to just say, “oh, I saw this painting and I just loved it. No other real reason for me to have a painting of Tokyo.” Or am I over thinking it?

    1. Of course not! If you love it, buy it, and dream of maybe visiting there one day.

    2. You’re definitely overthinking it! Most people have never seen wild geometric shapes hanging in the sky, or the particular mountains or lake an artist painted… or met the person in a vintage 1960s portrait… if you had to have “been there” to buy art then the museums would be empty. 🙂

  36. Art is such a personal choice I don’t think there should be any rules. If it makes you happy that’s what matters.

  37. It’s funny to me that the “For Like Ever” print is on the good list, considering how completely overused it is. There was a while where you couldn’t look at a post on any design blog without seeing a print of that. I’m so tired of it.

    Right now, I mostly buy prints because of monetary concerns, but I buy them direct from the artist when I can and only get what speaks to me. I also hang a lot of my own photography, especially photos taken on vacation. Sitting at my desk, I can look to my right and see a lovely photo of Catalina Island that I took and that reminds me of being much more relaxed.

    1. I have to agree about some of the prints like the “For Like Ever” one. I had the same thought about the ready made abstracts from Target. Like, yeah they are cute but the fact that zillions of people can just go pick them up at Target kind of makes them the same as some of the uglier stuff that they warned against.

      1. And the beach pictures … they are cool … but they are EVERYWHERE! Or at least it feels like everyone in the “design” world has them or uses them (blogs, magazines, books, insgtagram, pinterest). That’s one bad thing about all the “sharing”; things seem so old and overdone so quickly.

    2. lol I was coming in to say just that. “For Like Ever” should be on the bad list for sure. A girl in one of my college painting classes painted a knock-off version of it IN OIL PAINT and it’s been a joke to me ever since. Haha.

  38. I love these posts! You are making us all better people! It’s good that you remind us all of these design missteps AND provide alternatives. Sometimes when you are decorating your house it feels easier or safer to make these generic choices that we know millions of other people make, even if we know it’s not reeeeally the best thing to do. Please keep these coming!

  39. I absolutely agree! My husband, father-in-law, and myself are all artists and bad art is genuinely offensive to us. (see my FIL’s work here: http://davidmichaelslonim.com/) Art is one of my favorite things to choose in any room and it is tempting to go for the cheapest versions. Thanks for all the awesome alternatives!

    1. Beautiful!

  40. I used to get ads on my Facebook for “art shows” at local hotels selling “sofa sized art.” Because gosh darn it, who cares if it’s ad, ugly art?? As long as it’s the length of your sofa. LOL!!!

  41. If there’s such a thing, I’m an unpretentious art snob and am really trying to rein in the judgement when friends snap their gold foil “live laugh love” poster. Can we not?
    Love this so much!

  42. THANK YOU. Someone needed to say it and I’m glad it was you. If I have to see one more black and white NYC scene with a yellow cab driving down the street…..

  43. Thank YOUUUUUU! As a rule I look at something and ask myself “Would this be at home in a hotel?” or “Is this something my friend or family member would look at and recognize as being popular?” Is so then it’s a big no no.

    I’ve never liked the canvas wrapped prints, especially not of someone’s family. But I always kinda thought that was mostly just because I was cynical and mean about my good taste. So thank you for confirming that it’s just not my cold black heart that thinks they are a no go.

  44. Straight up – no disagreement with this, at all.

    However, I’d go further: this should not only apply to art but to everything decorative in your home. There is no excuse for decorative things that are simply bought to fill a space with the right shape or color ( except flowers.) When you do acquire something, it should have meaning or interest for you – it should attract or move you in some way – as well as being beautiful or useful.

    It’s harder and it takes longer to do it this way. In the end, though. it is more personally satisfying to live surrounded by things that you’ve chosen because they move you – rather than a bunch of things acquired in a single shopping spree at HomeGoods or Ikea or Target.

    1. I completely agree. I have empty walls and a few empty corners in my home despite having lived here for almost two years, because I refuse to buy anything if I don’t love it just to fill a space. That doesn’t mean everything I buy is expensive…I legit love Target finds, like a gorgeous openwork shaker basket or a pretty striped blanket.

      Anyways, love this post and want to see more of them… also feel free to anon email this to my MIL 😀

  45. That typography rule is EVERYTHING and I am so happy you included it on this list. I really don’t like word art, as I call it. It’s so rare in which word art is artistically done, not mass produced or looks like it’s in the middle of a trend AND, most importantly, is actually really personal and has true meaning to the owner.

    1. I agree about generic typography vs. personal. I sell custom typography prints–so people can display the words that are important to them. Custom quotes have ranged widely… from Grandma’s (funny) last words, to a poem about lost opportunities.

      That’s a big exception to the typography rule–a custom quote print that says whatever you want, however obscure. It means something to you; that’s what matters.

      Love this post. Thank you, Emily!

      1. P.S. My shameless plug–Custom Typography Prints can be found here:

  46. Hear hear! Awesome post. As a struggling artist, I so appreciate the plug for buying original art. Another tip – don’t be afraid to haggle and make offers on original art. Most of us are willing to cut deals – BOGO, bulk discounts, etc. Also, say you like some of the work, but it isn’t the right color or size, ask if you can commission! We’ll cut deals on that too. And with this advice, I must shamelessly plug my own artwork. https://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/763448 🙂

    1. I respectfully have to disagree. Haggling with artists is not classy. It devalues what they do. Haggling to me means that the buyer doesn’t value an artist’s skills, expertise, or time. Would you haggle with your doctor, with your hairdresser, with your babysitter?
      You said you’re an artist: my advice is to not haggle with customers, but to offer art at varying price points.

      1. Wow, that’s a really unhelpful, overly critical comment. It’s not like I come down thousands on the price. I’m in control of what I will or won’t accept and I am certainly not going to kill a deal on say, three paintings because someone comes down a bit on the offer. The reality of not dealing with the needs of your customers, particularly interior designers, means that you’re probably not going to make a living. I personally haggle on almost any purchase – cars, houses, furniture, etc. – I even went the distance on a jacket at Club Monaco! If someone gets me down 10% on a piece that isn’t selling, I’m not exactly crying about it. If a particular piece was technically difficult and took me 25 hours to complete, I’ll probably stand firm. I’m not selling a service like a hairdresser, it’s a product and I want to make a sale. So my advice to you is to let me use my excellent sales skills to it’s end result – a SALE. p.s. Galleries haggle too.

        1. Thank you for clarifying, Sarah. I’ve wondered if I should and now I know. Your explanation was detailed and well explained. Please post your website so we can see your work!!

          1. Hi Jeanne – my work is here: https://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/763448

            Thank you!

  47. I agree with your assessment! And shy away from those types of art myself (especially the obvious copies of famous works of art). But I can’t help but feel like this partly falls into the realm of personal preference and that today’s styles may easily be included in a round-up 10 years down the road. Maybe not… But it would be interesting to address, for sure!

    1. This. While I agree with the post, I think that some of this is just a matter of what looks dated now vs. what will look dated in the future. Art – real art – can stand the test of time, but decorative “art” can become unfashionable pretty quickly.

  48. What a wonderful article! And a big YES to all of these rules.

  49. I’m curious to know your thoughts on Audubon prints, Obviously they more suited to traditional rooms but I’ve seen them used by many designers. Do they fall under this category in your opinion?

    1. Love these! I think they are classic and timeless. You can often find other naturalists and botanicals as well. Often cutting out prints from a book and framing them as a group can be nice. You can download high resolution prints from the Audubon website for free by the way.

    2. I think in 5 years these will be interesting again, but I think they are overdone right now. Just two cents. Nothing official! 🙂

  50. This was a fantastic article, and I’m glad you wrote it. It gives me a concrete reference point for more abstract ideas that I’ve had floating around in my head and will help me make good decisions as I invest in my home decor because good design is meaningful to me.

    I think what some comments have missed is that good design is not meaningful to everyone. My mother-in-law, for example, finds so much joy in looking at her canvas prints of family photos, there’s no way I’ll ever have the conversation with her about how they “break the rules.” For the most part, she doesn’t care about design rules. They don’t bring her joy.

    Good design brings me joy, though. So thanks, Emily. 🙂

    1. this is a great point. same with my mom—she loves canvas prints of family photos and decor items from hobby lobby (i’m not knocking hobby lobby overall–i have seen some nice vases, frames, and baskets in there, but she will get those “cheeky” things like key holders with sayings on them etc.). anyways, i know she does not get joy out of good design, whereas i do. so, i would never consider questioning the way she has decorated her home or the things she buys, because i know that she is happy with all of that. she doesn’t look around her home like i do and feel that something is “off,” nor does she browse home decor online or dream about what her home COULD look like if she had the right budget, etc. so, i totally understand your point, and i think it pointed out a great differentiation–while i would not, unsolicited, tell my mom all my thoughts on her home decor choices, because that might offend her, i have GLADLY given my very direct opinion on my little sister’s decor questions and selections because she has ASKED me to give them. she is decorating a new apartment and constantly asks me if i think this would go with that and if this looks nice, etc. us coming to read emily’s blog is the equivalent of someone asking your opinion and hoping for a direct answer. people like my mom would never read emily’s blog…simply because it doesn’t interest them. i read it daily, because i want to know what emily thinks about design things and see how she implements her design philosophy. all that to reiterate that these posts are NEEDED and WANTED by the majority of people who purposely come to your site, emily. don’t stop because people get a little sensitive and hurt!

  51. Dying. This was not only funny but so needed to be said. I would add not buying art to match your furniture. I’ve known people who actually commission an artist to do this. Ugh. I know the online thing is convenient but I’d encourage folks to buy art on trips whenever possible. Yes, it’s lovely to remember your painting came home with you from Barcelona or Provence but it can easily be from Palm Springs or Wisconsin too. The thing is, your home will eventually become a memorial of a life you’ve lived and loved and you will feel nestled in warm memories.

  52. love these posts! there will always be complainers or people who are too sensitive, but don’t let that stop you, please! these posts are very helpful and, even if i have made some of the mistakes you guys have called out, i’m not offended or annoyed…i take it as a good learning lesson that i can remember in the future when shopping for home items. i feel like we occasionally see a battle come up in blog posts or comments where some people argue that designers/bloggers shouldn’t tell people what to do and not to in their own home (sometimes it’s even the bloggers themselves saying they just want to inspire with their own story/decor, but they never want to cross the line of telling people what’s pretty and what’s tacky). the phrase, “as long as you love it…” is thrown around. but, hey, my feeling is i’m here not only to see pretty pictures and read an entertaining blog post, but i’m here to LEARN something and inform the way i decorate my house. so, i really feel like we should all be okay with someone who clearly is a professional or, at the least, has a better eye for things, telling us what is okay and what’s not. we all KNOW that, if you love it, there is no harm in having it in your home. but, for those of us who sometimes feel unsure about what we should and should not love, these posts are great. keep ’em coming!!!

  53. Sadly, abstract paintings are a cliche now. Beach scenes? Over it. Words? Forget it. Minted? Just say no. Sorry to be harsh. Art should be original. Anything else is cloying and inauthentic. Want the good stuff? Plenty of local artists in your town. Or, go to your local high school art show and buy fabulous artwork for very little money. Or make your own. And not at those horrible wine and paint studios. Okay, I am done now. Sorry to disturb.

    1. Oooh. Wine and Paint studio paintings DEFINITELY should have been a category.

      1. THIS IS EVERYTHING. ^^^ Wine paintings… High five…

        Also can we talk about Wall Typography Decals? Those pain me to the core….

    2. Abstract paintings are cliched?! ROFL. I don’t think they’re going anywhere 🙂

  54. I loved this post and agree with pretty much everything in here. Although now I’m panicking slightly- my friend was giving away a high-quality Maynard Dixon print (a beautiful Southwest landscape) and I fell in love right when I saw it. It reminds me of my childhood road trips and I love it so much. But now I’m worried that it’s a generic work by a famous artist- is it? Or am I overthinking it?

    1. No way, what a great steal! I want one! I think Emily was referring more towards the Van Gogh, Monet, etc. replicas. Maynard Dixon is identifiable but not overdone.

    2. There’s only one question and you answered it! If you love it, you should keep it. Your home, your castle, your rules

    My boyfriend “rescued” a generic black and white beach photo last year when we moved into our apartment and I’ve ALWAYS hated it. (Some things really do belong in the garbage…) I agree that some “big box store” art can totally work, but this picture straight up looks like the landscape version of the fake family in a $3 Walmart frame.

    1. Ha! I have actually been in a home that had frames in place with the fake family…they just hadn’t gotten to putting their own picture in yet. You can’t make this stuff up!

      1. Have you seen the movie “The Switch”–the little boy collects frames with stock family photos in them and pretends they’re members of his own family. So sad and so sweet.

  56. Amen and anyone who takes true offense to this post is likely hoarding Oliver Gal canvases.

  57. ha, except that number 1 and number 9 in abstracts and photography is seen on almost every blogger home tour, while they are beautiful they are no longer unique. I’ve also seen Jamie Derringers black abstract so many times now that I’m getting bored with it and Emily Jeffords landscapes are beautiful and I’m lucky to have bought an original a couple years back when her prices were much lower, now the ones available on minted I see too often.
    The one point I disagree with are framed vs canvas wrapped family photos – we have the canvas wrapped ones in the kids rooms above their bed and they work great in a gallery wall to break things up with original art, prints, etc. Like you said, rules can be broken 😉

  58. The way I see it, design mistake posts are aimed at people who would love the EHD look in their own homes and just can’t quite figure out what they’re doing wrong. If someone loves their gallery wrapped photo canvases and isn’t looking for a change, I mean, to each his own. No one is sending the design police. I find the posts helpful (and generally validating) and I hope you keep doing them!

    1. Well said!

    2. I agree with this. I really enjoyed this post.

    3. Samantha,
      YES – exactly. I love the EHD look, and I need details. I would have never thought on my own not to buy canvas-wrapped family portraits. But now I’m SO grateful I’ll steer clear of them. Of course readers can choose which pieces of advice to take or not; I am simply grateful to have all the details of what Emily would actually choose.

  59. Love this! For me it’s as simple as, “Is that thing you’re putting on your wall make your heart sing? Do you really love it or is it just something that fills the space?” Art takes your home to a new level when it feels personal. And I love when every piece of art in a home has a story that connects you to it like how you find it and what it reminds you of. For me, the generic mass produced Mona Lisa print is a design mistake because it seems like you are hanging it on your walls because you’ve been told by history/society/museums that this is beautiful and significant not necessarily that it is beautiful or significant to you personally. It doesn’t show your personality. Instead, hanging the Mona Lisa print makes it feel like you only want art that some outside institution has deemed “good art.” I think in the past saying that you need limited edition prints or original art in your home seemed unreachable and snobbish but now with so many affordable options through the internet this kind of art is completely accessible and possible. I have numerous original paintings in my house from eBay for under $20. Maybe others don’t think they are masterpieces but I think they are beautiful and they feel personal to me. I love that your print round-ups above illustrate how many great options are out there. I would just add that even those could become “generic art” when you buy it just because Emily Henderson said it was beautiful or good. Just make sure it means something to you and I think you home will feel full of character and will make YOU happy 🙂

  60. Grateful!! The Design Mistake post are my favorite series and I learn so much! While I can usually tell when something look off, it takes a designer to be able to articulate why something looks off, and how to do it better. Thank you!

  61. Oof, I have several of the “no” types of art in my home. It’s good to know that I lack taste. My canvas wrapped family photos might not be to everyone’s taste, but I like them. The things I have in my house make ME happy and a home to the people who live in it. That to me is far more important than having the “right” kind of art.

  62. Errrrrm…how are prints from Target/West Elm/Pottery Barn not considered mass produced?

    1. I was actually going to comment on that too. I LOVE these posts and I agreed with all the “no” pieces, but I find the suggestions from places like Target (which I do love) a little odd. I mean, just because Target does a good job at being trendy doesn’t mean it’s any more meaningful than some Kincaid print someone bought at Deck the Walls. I applaud Target and Pottery Barn and the like for trying to provide home style options that are stylish but affordable (and I am a loyal target shopper) but I just can’t bring myself to buy art there. It means literally nothing to me. If I really want filler for my wals, I’ll go outside and take a great picture of the flowers in my yard.

  63. Here is a post about the real history of the “For Like Ever” poster – it’s Valley-girl speak, not WWII history.


  64. Totally agree!! Also, when I read your post on faux aged pieces, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Thank you! I’m not crazy for hating it!’ Haha. I love these posts, actually I just love all your posts. I love your honesty. 🙂

  65. Brilliant! And thanks for all the amazing art sources!

  66. Love all of this! We recently moved into a farmhouse built in 1900 and I have been trying to land on why I don’t love many of the art options I’ve come across. All of them were just…fine. Then I went to a friend’s home who has a lovely eye for eclectic art and it dawned on me, I love her pieces because they’re not generic or popular, they’re fun and beautiful and unique. The list you’ve created here is so helpful and gives me good language for pinpointing what I want. Off to the fleas I go!

  67. Hmm. I sort of agree with most of these principles. There is plenty of ‘art’ out there that does nothing to improve over the plain walls it hangs on. But there’s an exception to the rule so often! Or something you disagree with – for example, I’ve seen lots of examples of the ‘Work hard and be nice to each other’ so that seems pretty generic now(https://www.etsy.com/uk/market/work_hard_and_be_nice_to_people).

    I also think that these are maybe more designers’ rules rather than individuals. If, as a designer, you stick to these rules then you’re going to produce something that looks good. But as an individual you could follow these rules and end up with something that doesn’t express your own taste or personality. I’m not going to diss that gallery wall you did for the home office (it does look good), but I hope people will know what I mean when I say that I’d feel funny about somebody else putting together a selection of art for my home.

    I also sort of agree we another commenter that we don’t need to get snobby about other people’s choices. You could definitely put more of a positive spin on the Design Mistakes series. Maybe something like “Why you aren’t quite satisfied with your curtains” or “Make sure your art says about you what you want it to” – or something equally snappy. 🙂

    When I look at things to go on my wall, I ask myself questions. Number one question, do I really, genuinely like it – and will it carry on interesting or pleasing me?

    Then: “Is it individual enough?”, or “If I see this (or something similar) on the wall of somebody I don’t like – or if lots of people suddenly have it – will I still want it?” So I’m wary of anything mass produced or popular, but if I want a print of that Van Gogh painting, it’s going on my wall.

    And lastly, “Is it good quality?” Not necessarily, “is this good taste?” or “Will other people think this is good?” I just think houses are nicer if you aim for quality.

    Of course all these questions are much more subjective than rules like ‘No generic abstracts’ – but isn’t design partly about learning our own tastes and how best to express them?

    1. Awfulknitter — I LOVE your thoughtfully worded response! Thank you so much for making the time to type it out.

      When I first started reading Emily’s post I got an unhappy, sinking feeling — from the get-go the word choice(s) came across (to me) as negative and sneeringly judgey, and I thought “what is going on?” Recently Emily started another post about her second hand wardrobe with similarly unkind and untrue words (something like “if you don’t like clothes then skip this post,” but I adore clothing … just not Emily’s, and I thought it seemed so jejune to equate someone not liking *your* way as being wrong full stop, um, no).

      Condescension toward self-expression makes me sad and uncomfortable. Like you, as I was reading this (above) post I was thinking “there are so many kinder, more instructive ways of wording this,” and you offered perfect alternatives. Brava!

      I do think the post as written seems snobby, not picky, and it gives me great pause that people might take it literally instead of exercising what feels good *to them* while perhaps borrowing a few guidelines.

      I LOVE my taste but no doubt to many others it is “off”: if Diana Vreeland (or Miles Redd) at her most vulgar, Nancy Lancaster (or David Easton), and Axel Vervoordt had a three-way (or however many the poly-paramours at this point!) I would be the result. And if they’d let Yohji Yamamoto join then it would be the ultimate me.

      It makes me think of that DV quote: “We all need a splash of bad taste.” Just not bad manners.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful reply.

    2. What a thorough and thought provoking response. I love your critique of phrasing of the post – so often we all fall into this gap between our thoughts/feeling and how to present them to others in such a way that they can hear us and that shows we are actively hearing them.

      I also agree with you that rules to create interesting photographed spaces are not the same as creating a meaningful space for yourself. I believe we see that in Emily’s art choices for her own home vs. her clients. Her own home has pieces that speak of love and connection. Often client homes have art that is trying to say something about the occupant – like they are projecting “we are ___. See the evidence here on my walls?”. However Syliva’s family had wonderful personal art in their makeover. I believe this is because Emily and her team know them personally so they could inject personality and soul….like they would in their own home.

    3. I’m pretty easy to get my feelings hurt, but this post did not ring snobby or condescending to me. I think part of Emily’s writing style is humor and bluntness. I *love* the way Emily says things.

  68. I have a friend who cut out a 5″x5″ square of a Seurat print and framed that. It is unique and colorful and I was enthralled by her creativity. In fact, I loved how it refreshed my adoration for Impressionist art. When you see how the colors mesh from dot to dot, the piece takes on an almost modern feel.

    In total agreement about everything you’ve said here… I cringe when I see these mass produced pieces in homes!

    1. Oh I love this idea. I might try it.

  69. Love it! It’s so easy to spot bad art but so hard to say why. Simple rules like this are easy to keep in mind and so, so true. If there was one rule I could add it would be to watch the scale of the art. I see why you left it out, though, because that’s a rule that’s made to be broken.

  70. I love these posts! Don’t stop doing them for fear of offending anyone. We come to you for design advice because we value your opinion. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to come here!
    But reading the comments got me kind of fired up. When you go to a friend’s home and they have a “live laugh love” print, just ignore it and enjoy their company! If they ask your advice, then give it. But if it really bothers you that THEIR house isn’t as pretty as yours, you’re not a very good friend. Just saying.

  71. I want to encourage your readers to support local artists. Many cities and towns have “open studios” a couple of times a year. It’s a great time to pick up affordable art while meeting the artist and seeing his/her creative process. If you love a painting but can’t afford it, ask the artist if he/she has a print of the painting. Prints are a great alternative. Also, artists often like to work out trades. If you are a physical therapist, a dentist, an accountant (!) – offer your services in exchange for art.

  72. Great tips!!!
    Original Local Art is always a good idea. And purchasing art on your travels. “Real” art is most often on par with the prices of works people purchase from Z gallery etc. and local art is one of a kind, unique, and you literally support the arts!
    My collecting art tip: if YOU like the art it’s good. Also, galleries are there to help you if you aren’t sure of what you like. If you are ever in Dallas come to the bishop arts area in Oak Cliff and check out Jen Mauldin Art Gallery! Jen is very awesome and helpful. And my work is there 😉

  73. Do you have an affordable-ish source for framing an already printed canvas wrap? I’m a photographer and have a few canvas wraps of my landscapes in my house, but I totally agree…I’d much rather have them in a floating frame (bc, duh it looks way better…the company I ordered from does have a frame option but they are cheap looking). I’m sure I could make one if I had the time…but just wondering if you know of a company that creates floating frames for canvases? Thanks in advance!

    p.s. I agree with everything in this post!

  74. For the record I love this series, and you guys. It’s thoughtful, and walks the line of being helpful without being offensive.


  75. While my own personal tastes agree with many of these rules (not that I would personally choose a lot of the art that Emily recommended), it’s disheartening to read the post and comments–particular the comments asking Emily if a piece of art that they currently have is okay. If you really like your art, don’t let someone else influence you to throw it away. Have confidence in what you like. If you’re the only one that likes it, embrace your uniqueness. Maybe you don’t love your art but you purchased it because of budget constraints and it pleases you to stare at that vs. a blank wall. That’s okay too!

    Art is very personal and subjective topic, as is style. Emily has a very specific style–yes, I know she says she likes so many of them, but you can see the commonality in all of the photos in her portfolio. There is a whole other population out there that is truly not drawn to any of the images on her instafeed, and they don’t necessarily have “bad style” because of it.

    I am a long-term follower of Emily–I couldn’t wait for her shows after enjoying her on Design Star, purchased her book, and will probably be reading her blog for a long time to come, so I am certainly not trying to be negative toward her. But yes, since you asked, I do think the post (as well as some of the comments) came off as being pretentious. My opinion is that the post should have been framed as giving some art tips to your readers (who presumably share similar tastes) along with a round-up as opposed to it’s a “mistake” to like these pieces and therefore have bad taste.

    1. Emily doesn’t like “generic” art work and yet shills for target.

    2. clap clap clap

      1. Clap clap clap was for Theresa’s post!

    3. I think everything that Emily and team post has a strong opinion and view (which is, for me, the reason I come here – to get advice from someone whose style I love but I need help achieving). I didn’t feel that this post regarding art was different from any post where Emily and team talk about what’s good in a space and bad in a space. Each and every thing they say – they feel strongly about. Right? In other words, is this any more pretentious than the other posts? (Which, for the record, I didn’t feel this post was pretentious, but I’m using that word as a scale of how pretentious or not pretentious this post and other posts are.)

  76. Preach it girl! Could not agree more. I just finished this design for a client. I’m in love the vintage portraits I found at a flea market for above the bed.

  77. I bought a canvas wrapped print of a bird painting at HomeGoods 6 years ago (yes, in that terrible style you’re picturing right now), because I needed something cheap but large to put over the mantel in our guest room. I knew it was wrong when I bought it, but rationalized that it was a room no one used and the colors were nice. But, honestly, it has been a source of shame every time I walk by the room. In a moment of desperation, I even considered getting some white paint and painting over the sides, but I knew that would be even more embarrassing. Time to kick it to the curb.

  78. I love looking at this blog, because I like the design style of Emily and her team. One thing about the comments strikes me as more snobby than anything in the post. The end of the post basically asks the questions. Do you agree with us? Do you think we are being snobby? Those who disagree are being “targeted” with comments, like if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Wow, people. Critique was invited.

    1. Good point, Alison! I went back up and read that after you mentioned it.

  79. I agree with 95% of this post on a very extreme level (I bought my brother a generic art triptec that he requested for Christmas and it pained me so), but you lost me with the canvas family portraits- I have a few of these and don’t really hang them as art or focal points, but mixed with other framed family photos in my hallway they look pretty rad and they aren’t going anywhere 🙂

    1. I agree. I think canvas family photos have merit.

  80. Thank you, Emily — I appreciate your support for original art (new or old — esp. new)!

    You were actually pretty gentle with your rules. I’d ban all artwork that has ANY words on it (except, OK, maybe, as you say, an art opening poster, or something; or maybe in a kid’s room). ANY dyptich that cuts a scene in half: totally banned; there are no “good” ones.

    That said — and my biases aside — I understand why you were hesitant on this. Art is such a personal choice. I would never try to buy art for someone else (and they probably shouldn’t try to buy for me). If that dyptich makes you happy, then go for it.

  81. Thanks for a great post. I would also add that, especially for a hallway, kid art in pretty frames (and matted) can look really awesome. We have a super-boring hallway and we did that and change the art occasionally. The artists are very proud when their masterworks are up on the wall, and it is a very colorful assembly on a long white wall.
    Also, I like buying quality (gallery-purchased, numbered) prints or original art from places where I travel, and have a whole wall full of those. They don’t have to be “kitsch” and bright sunsets. I managed to find really cool water colors all over the world from local artists and at affordable prices. In addition to being nice decorations, they are beautiful reminders of great vacations or trips.
    Lastly, I second the art poster “permission” – I used to collect posters from exhibits, and they can look really neat if they point to a specific exhibit, rather than being just a print. (We have a lot of walls, so it’s been fun to fill them slowly with cool stuff).

  82. So glad for this post! I am collecting art for single installation on walls, and possibly a gallery wall. Emily – can you weigh in on the gallery wall installation around the wall mounted TV? Some art purists say it is a no no. But we have a massive flatscreen TV that is just screaming out at us. Wall art or simple sconces on each side?

  83. one of the BEST posts EVERRR

  84. THANK YOU THANK YOU for the return of Design Mistakes. It’s my favorite series on the blog – sorry not sorry if it offends people, it really provides concrete changes you can make to improve the look of your home. MORE PLEASE! 🙂

  85. Wait, I have a question about the canvases because it’s written in a semi-confusing way. Are they ALWAYS a no-no, or a no-no when the picture wraps around the side? I have a large historical photo from LAPL on canvas (because it was the cheapest way to do a super large print — tell Framebridge to get on it with the big sizes) and a few of those NASA travel posters they released a few years ago in my son’s space-themed nursery (I needed them to be lightweight and non-deadly if they fell in an earthquake). BUT none of them wrap the picture around the edges because I agree that looks stupid. They all have black/dark edges because to me it looks cleaner and gives the impression of a frame (which I was unable to do for the above-explained reasons). AM I ALLOWED??? Do I need to burn my house to the ground? Please advise.

    1. Those posters for NASA were SO COOL!

      1. Yes, and they look SO GOOD printed on canvas. Like, stunning. I wish I could upload a pic so I could prove that me and my posters are the exception to this rule.

    2. “AM I ALLOWED??? Do I need to burn my house to the ground? Please advise.”

  86. Perfect timing!! Thanks for the tips!! ?

  87. 100% agree with all of this except the mass produced Target, West Elm, etc. works. I guarantee those will look cheap and dated in 5 years.

    Also, I think the For Like Ever poster is much more recent than WWII…this is an explanation of it’s origins.

  88. Great article! Another cringe is Anyhing of the laugh,love, life or a mr./mrs. sign.

  89. Thank you for drawing attention to this! Art can be more impactful than wall color, but doesn’t get proper funding when ppl budget a remodel. Can I respectfully add one more that may offend decorators?

    Gallery walls, as people call them, are nothing like proper gallery walls. The good galleries don’t stack and stagger paintings on a wall for a reason. A piece of art is best presented when the painting has plenty of space to allow the viewer to absorb it without distraction. The negative space is as important as the piece itself.

    As an artist, I was instructed to avoid showing in galleries that hang artwork in a salon style, with work crammed together.

    Instead, opt for a larger painting. It is often cheaper per square inch, and is so much more impactful.

  90. I couldn’t agree more. As a museum professional I am super picky about art in homes. I would add to your list: nothing from Ikea. Only put things up that mean something to you and have sentimental value–nothing purchased just to fill a wall.

  91. I certainly can see why you are afraid this might offend people, but I really appreciated this post. To me, it’s educational and will help me enhance my home with art selections. I’ve never really developed an affinity for art and don’t know “how” to buy it, so this is helpful (since I can’t afford original works of high-end art). When I was younger, I definitely was guilty of buying some of the generic retail “art” pieces, but as I’ve grown up in my style, they don’t speak to me anymore. Thanks for taking the risk! (Also, I’m SO OVER any print with “keep calm and (fill in the blank) so I count this as one of your categories.)

  92. Great content! I also love vintage paint-by-numbers as art. Some can be a little kitschy, but others are really beautiful.

    When I saw that grammatical error in the first paragraph, I thought “Oh no!” all the comments are going to be about that again–lol.

  93. I loved this post. I have a BFA and art and design is a great source of pleasure for me. Recently, my father in law made fun of a Debbie Carlos print (love her and her work is affordable) in my dining room. Meanwhile, he’s hung images of the Grand Canyon that are ripped straight out of National Geographic in his. To each his/ her own, I guess. I just replied that I really like the print with no mention of whose taste is better or worse.

  94. Thank you!

    I vote for more “Design Mistakes” posts!

    Helpful to have an expert put these mistakes into words. Makes it easier for me to identify and avoid. Sometimes you feel like a room is “off” but can’t put your finger on the issue. Then I read your blog and BAM – rug is too small.

  95. I won’t ever apply all these rules to my walls but I appreciate the thoughts of someone who has more time to contemplate proper design than myself.
    Thanks for all the links and recommendations.
    (and I’m totally leaving the giant van gogh in my upstairs hallway because I like it. And I have nothing else to put there).

  96. I think my favorite part of these posts are the comments! 🙂 Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s good reading! 🙂

  97. I’m completely all for this type of post, and love all your points!! It wasn’t written in an accusatory way. It gives guidance without a disciplinary tone. I’m all for Emily Henderson hand-holding posts! 🙂

  98. It is just bananannanas to me that people would get fired up enough about this post to write a nasty comment. It’s banananananas to me that this is something you could actually get mad about. If you love your mass produced art, or canvas wrapped photos or have any variation of these categories then that’s fine – Emily clearly calls that out in this blog post and has done a great job trying to set expectations with her readers that this content doesn’t have to dictate your personal design decisions.

    I’ve always loved these design mistake posts because I used to not know what size rug I should buy for a room or how far to hang down drapes from the ceiling or any other tip that would’ve impeded my ability to design a home that I love. No one wants to waste money or time on design mistakes so I encourage Emily and her team to keep writing these post for those of us who want a well curated home that won’t feel outdated or cheesy in a few years.

  99. This is helpful as we are house-shopping and lately I’ve been looking at some of the “art” on our walls with a more critical eye. Definitely have a few mistakes, and I like the alternatives you gave. I have to respetfully disagree about that Schoolhouse print (Work hard and be nice to people). I loved it when I first saw it, but now it seems to be overused at this point. I feel like I see it EVERYWHERE in designed rooms these days.

  100. Absolutely loved this post. I see so many bad and bland art choices in homes but the worst culprits are often hotels and airbnb’s. So many good artists out there at affordable prices. Here in Brighton (UK) we have a month long art festival called the Artists Open Houses which is great and my friend Abigail Bowen exhibits at (and on Saatchi Art). Thanks for walking the “controversial” line ??

  101. How about fine art studies? Still cheesy?

  102. I got to say I generally really like all the art you show in your blog because a lot of it is vintage and one of a kind. With that said that many of the art prints you posted as “good” options, I have seen everywhere in blogs for the last couple years, and so they become really generic and boring to me. I.e. I cringe seeing the “for like ever print,” the beach print photographs, or blurry pastel photographs of palm trees, because they are in everyone’s blogs these days, and are just too trendy for me. Art is so objective though; I really think you should just put stuff up art in your house that you like or that has meaning to you. Who really cares what someone else thinks.

  103. I like this post – I think it was really helpful and timely. I get asked a lot about things to frame and am going to write a post about some alternatives this week. I agree with the typography. I pretty much oppose that all the time. The wrapped canvas photos I definitely have in my space so eek! Looks like I’ll need to fix that. Maybe in a matte brass like you have above? Thanks for your help!

  104. I definitely agree with this post! I think, honestly, people go the generic art route because it’s what pops up first when they go hunting. It’s hard work finding great art, and if we (designers) can educate folks about great resources and what to look for, I think we’ll start seeing less of this “bad art” out there. I also liked your disclaimer that people should do what makes them happy – that’s so true – but, there’s SO MUCH great stuff out there that it’s a shame to see some of these piece on walls! (Funny enough, I actually published a post on how to find affordable abstract art on my blog today! Great minds think alike. 🙂 )

  105. I think if you like it and it makes you happy, go for it. Some rules are made to be broken; however, I did enjoy the post and appreciate the helpful shopping sites. There were a couple of them I did not know about.

  106. I think these posts are great and don’t understand what there is to be offended about. I don’t follow all the rules because I do what makes me happy. However, it’s still nice to have a resource like EHD to help give me direction. I don’t have to listen to them, I just usually do cause I trust their taste and knowledge.

  107. Emily, thank you once again. Let the naysayers say nay. You can’t buy good taste. I agree with all of your rules. And sometimes if you are really good you can break a rule now and then.

    And thank you for not hating on the Keep Calm and Carry On. I know it’s everywhere, but it’s just because it’s so darn good. I bought mine from Barter Books when I was in a particularly difficult time of my life. It’s Good Advice and reminds me that despite difficult times, I will survive.

    1. I’m tired of that, but what I really hate are the “Keep Calm and [Something Else].” I find them overdone. That said, I also think people should hang what speaks to them. I’m just glad she fixed it; she’d originally included “For Like Ever” while referring to “Keep Calm,” which is way overdone and not classic enough to justify being so ubiquitous.

  108. Grateful!

  109. These are really good rules and exceptions (and I’m glad to have a few new art sources to look into)!

    Admittedly I do have a few “old master” prints–not anything as obvious as the Mona Lisa or Starry Night but a couple less popular Van Goghs and a Klimt or two. That said, they are on nice paper and not objectively cheap-y looking. I also didn’t buy them as filler–I really, genuinely like them. I definitely see how they could go wrong quickly, though. I try to pair them with abstracts and other stuff so they’re a little more fresh in juxtaposition.

    On a philosophical note, I wonder about the longevity and seeming fresh-ness of things like beach prints. I like them as much as anybody, but even though they are sold in limited editions, it seems like they are getting over-exposed quickly (especially if you consume a lot of Instagram/Pinterest, like I’m sure a lot of commenters here do, myself included). I suppose that’s true of most anything on the internet nowadays.

  110. Another source for unique wall art is to check out tour/show posters for bands you like. Chances are, if you really like their music, your design taste will be similar as well. For instance, The Small Stakes does posters for a lot of bands I like, and Tycho designs a lot of his own posters for his shows, and I picked up a really beautiful print at a Washed Out show. It’s another way to make your art personal to what you actually care about.

  111. Interesting round up though some of the typography prints are pretty over done on designs blogs. I’ve seen them so often that they feel generic too me.

  112. 100 times yes. I’m so glad you made this post, but I’m worried the people that really need to hear this don’t read your blog anyways! Haha!

  113. Well done couldn’t agree more! So refreshing to have a blog post that says it like it is.

  114. I’m a custom picture framer, and I feel like I’ve seen a lot of customer art over the last 35 years. The blog brought up some good points, but art appreciation is like cultivating a garden. My first attempts at landscape planning netted me an all green garden with no flowers. Then I learned what makes a beautiful backyard…variety and pops of color, etc.

    My customers are at various stages of life, art exposure, and finances. I frame lots of stuff, some of which I don’t understand, but many people are graduating to better art. Some don’t. Many ask me if their stuff is worth framing. I can’t answer that (unless I recognize an historical masterpiece), and it is not my job to judge. Gentle education is offered, but no judgement. I love and respect my clients and while guidelines on how to enhance their home or office is offered, if something makes them happy, who am I? Art appreciation and exposure is a continuum.

    1. This is awesome.

    2. You’re a treasure, Leslie V.!

      1. Thanks for the nod, Lucy. I ran through the rooms and took inventory of our home just now. I am in the position to frame anything I want, and I have a modified poster over my living room fireplace. I cut off the titling at the bottom, mounted and art laminated it (with a matte finish that is cleanable), then framed it in a wide faux finish burl wood frame with a small black silk liner inside. It reads as a very dark piece with rich Asian influences. The poster was from a vacation that included a trip to the Bishop Museum in Hawaii long ago. In the end, it was all about color, theme, composition, scale, and memories. At retail, the poster was no more than $30 dollars. Although the framing cost more, I’ve had it there over the fireplace for thirty-five years. The average life of a framed poster is around two years. I definitely have my money’s worth out of that souvenir!

  115. We have a family motto : Be who you are and say what you feel. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. It is by Dr. Seuss and every where I saw it I hated the cheesy font etc. I had a calligrapher on etsy hand pen it on a small beautiful paper and I tucked it in the corner of a mirror in my entry way. It cost my $25 but it is special and pretty with my own spin.
    I agree with all your ideas especially to buy art that matters to you and doesn’t just fill up space. I also love the texture of Jane Denton pieces and love needle point. I can’t afford her stuff right now, but I am inspired by her endlessly and trying to teach myself and have one of my own one day.

  116. I have never been a big fan of mass-produced art. I love to go to our local galleries and purchase original works of art that are unique to our area and I know that it will not be reproduced. Often, local artists are not over-the top expensive, and I love being able to showcase their work in my home. I thought it was kind of funny that the “Keep Calm and Carry On” print is still acceptable… it has been very “overdone” in my opinion — but it is the one piece that I am guilty of having in my home, so hooray! ha ha!

  117. I love this post! I’m so annoyed and afraid of bad art that I don’t have any in my home and I would like a couple pieces. Thanks for giving me a starting point, it’s much appreciated. And kudos for including “bad typography” as a don’t. I hate it so much that if an interior has it, I immediately dismiss the room as poorly decorated. I know they say one bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch but it kinda does with bad typography. Just ugh.

  118. Great tips & suggestions! So many people struggle with art and this can serve as a fab “how to” guide! There are so many struggling artists … I’d highly recommend searching out art collectives, art college graduate shows, and local art shows for inspiration and great buys. It’s nice to meet the artist & hear their story too.

  119. Ahhhhhazing post x

  120. Ahhhhhazing post, live your work team x

  121. Love ya! All these rules are totally correct. Thank you for encouraging people to look at and think about art in a critical way. It’s not just that canvas-wrapped prints and generic abstract paintings are bad hotel art, it’s WHY.

  122. I’ve been a loyal reader for years, but the tone of posts like these disappoints me and makes me sad. For some reason, these posts come across less as “here are some interesting design ideas” and more as “here’s why people should be ashamed of things they love”.

    1. I wonder, though, if most of those people don’t really love those generic things that these posts highlight, or if they just don’t know what other options are out there.

      1. I love Emily’s style and appreciate her expertise. It’s hard for me to put my finger on exactly what was so disappointing about this post. I think it’s fantastic to draw people’s attention to new artists or creative sources for original art, but the language here seemed cruel in places.
        “Good art” is art that speaks to your soul. While it is certainly possible for good art to also be stylish, not all stylish art will resonate with people. My grandma kept prints of famous paintings up in her living room for years. With six children, she knew she would never be able to travel to museums to see the originals (although she would have LOVED to have done that), so she studied cheap reproductions in the early hours of day before everyone woke up each morning. They were inexpensive reproductions, but they meant something to her – so they were beautiful. Mass-produced, big box store abstracts didn’t make her soul sing – even though they were much more stylish.

  123. Do I choose art for visitors or for me? If I like it and it makes me feel good I will have it on my walls! You can be critique about my taste but who cares!

  124. I also find it funny that the arbiter of ‘good taste’ is an avid Bachelor fan. If there is a show this century that’s in poor taste, it’s that franchise.


      shots fired.

  125. I was just browsing Target’s art section yesterday and I was impressed by their selection! I thought the navy dots print you linked was especially lovely!

  126. That moment when you read through this entire post and yo can tap yourself on the back for not falling into any of these traps! My home must be Emily Henderson Approved 😉


  127. This post is an opinion piece and each of us needs to decide what our own personal statements will be…art is so subjective. Personal tastes evolve over time. Buy what you love and enjoy it. You don’t need to ask permission to buy a souvenir from your museum visit. You don’t need someone else’s approval to hang a typography quote that makes you smile. Make your decisions based on what you love and what you can afford. Don’t derive a hardline rule from everything posted on these design blogs. The age of some of these commenters is fairly young (i.e. “BEST posts EVERRR”) and you need to take them with a grain of salt. All things in moderation; we’re all learning as we go.

  128. Brilliant! Glad you’re facing the easily offended and posting this anyway! People’s (friends, family, clients) horrible choices are really tough. Stay strong!

  129. Agreed! Great post!

  130. I loved this post! Thank you for being brave and putting these rules out there, I think they’re all right on (and it kind of cracks me up that people get upset) I think the tone of these posts is to educate, not to put down and you do an excellent job of showing people what works and why it does. As an art teacher I talk about kitsch with my students and I’m going to refer to your post as a great collection of what makes good art vs. kitsch. I also wanted to mention that student art shows/sales at universities can be a great place to buy original art and support very grateful young artists at the same time. Your rules applied to a student art sale (because there will be some bad stuff too) can net some great work at a great price.

    1. This is a great idea (mentioned in at least one other post here), about looking for original art at high school or university student art shows. Here’s a dumb question for you: How does one who’s NOT a student and doesn’t have a student (meaning, I’m not a parent) find out about these sales? Where should I be checking?

  131. So what if it is just a print of a masterpiece. If that’s what makes you smile when you look at it, I say go ahead, it’s your home, decorate with what you like. You don’t have to impress anyone. Your home should reflect your personality, not what someone else deems appropriate. Emily has provided many choices you might like, but what it really comes down to is what’s pleasing to your eye. I think it’s important for our homes to reflect the personality of the people who live there. It would be really boring if we all decorated the same way. Even if it’s just cheap prints from Target, if that’s what you love, go for it.

    1. It’s true: I’ve just been able to save up for some original works in the last several years, but even so, I have a hard time believing I’ll never have room for at least one Edward Hopper print and one Henri Matisse, because I adore both of those artists, and–let’s face it, folks–there’s very little chance I’ll EVER afford the real thing. And every time I see them each day, I breathe more freely, smile happily and know I’m in my own space. 😉

  132. OMG EMILY. You read my mind and/or I read yours. I was LITERALLY telling my husband LAST NIGHT that we needed to boot the Van Gogh print he’d had since college. We’re buying a condo with way more space than our apartment and he was all “we need to buy some more prints like that Van Gogh” and I was like, “fuck no, and furthermore, we need to get rid of that.”

    I sent him this post, hopefully the message will sink in now!

  133. This post is oh-so-timely for me. I have lots and lots of art tucked away in various closets in my house. I struggle with determining what is worth framing and hanging, and what isn’t. I do have a professional photo of me riding my horse on a cross country course that I had done in a wrap-around canvas. I kind of love it and I can no longer ride the horse so it is probably going to stick around at least until I decide another way to use the photo. Please do a post on how to mix art. I’m not the biggest fan of gallery walls, but I do want to hang a few pieces together and am at a loss how to decide what to put together.
    No one is going to agree with someone on all of their art choices. Art is such a personal thing, but I think you did a great job of identifying what is trying too hard and what is real.

  134. So interesting to read the comments. I think there are more avenues to talk about regarding an art collection (the do’s as opposed to the don’ts). I’d love to hear more about your staff’s art collection journeys (like Mel’s significant other’s clay). I loved your post Emily about your blimp poster. How are you curating your collection to fit your new older home? What are some of your staff’s most important artworks in their homes–what’s the story behind them and why do they work design-wise? (Again, Mel touched on this in her post. Would love to hear about Ginny’s chotskies.)

    I was an art history major and work for an art non-profit. I love supporting our students, local artists, and discovering thrifted finds! Even if the thrifted artwork isn’t a masterpiece I justify because “someone spent hours painting that!” I find these posts a bit negative, but love the blog!

  135. ahh that “for like ever” and “work hard and be kind” or whatever is soooo incredibly overdone – it’s the fiddle leaf fig of art work on every single blog (design/lifestyle) in the world. Otherwise, I agree with all of the above.

    Though I did just buy these: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/bathroom-sign-prints/?pkey=e%7Ccomb%2Byour%2Bhair%2Bprint%7C2%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C48%7C%7C1&sku=9525312&group=1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH for my soon-to-arrive daughter’s bathroom (which is black hex tile floor and subway tiled shower) and I love them. Otherwise I’m on board and like this series.

  136. What about us broke peeps?I buy vintage pieces when I see ones I like and can afford, but also have to rely on mass produced stuff, like Hobby Lobby some. I think the canvas wrapped print is the hardest to follow…they are cheap thrills!

  137. Spot on with this post!!
    3 and 4 were the hardest ages. By hardest, I mean frustrating at times. Whining, wanting their way etc.
    Nowadays, I have 2 teens and sometimes I can say the same for these ages too. Just wait 🙂
    BTW….I wouldn’t trade a minute!!

  138. YES! So many people need this post! It is one of the most painful decorating mistakes to me when someone has bad “art”! I think you are right on, but I thought for sure the “Keep Calm and Carry On” print (of which I had a yellow one framed in my office, but just donated b/c I’m over it) would be in the faux pas category and not in the suggestions! I guess I’m just over it for myself – it’s definitely not as offensive as a lot of the others. I always love art inspiration and posts. Thanks Team EHD!

  139. Lol, I love this. Nothing makes me more sad than a big typography print from Bed, Bath & Beyond in someone’s home.

  140. This was SO helpful. I love it when you are so down to earth with us. Thank you!!! Please never be afraid of offending. Your authenticity is what keeps me coming back to this blog.

  141. I agree with all of this except for the inclusion of the Keep Calm and Carry On. That’s about as ubiquitous as it gets and should be in the NO column.

  142. I love the Design Mistakes series and I’m so glad it’s back! I refer back to your How to Hang Art Correctly post each time I’m placing a new piece. For me, accumulating unique pieces over time adds to the joy they bring when I see them on my walls. I love so many of the resources your cited too, especially Tappan Collective and Minted.

  143. Great round up! Luckily for me I just replaced my typography with a wall of art work I put together from artfullywas.com. I saw you had some of their pieces. I have also been successful going to local galleries and inquiring about new and/or up and coming artists which are usually less expensive and there is the possibility of the artwork increasing in value.

  144. I agree for the most part. Motivational quotes (including Keep Calm and Carry On) are like nails on a chalkboard to me. But my canvas-wrapped photo of us on the day we got engaged brings me joy! I am not sure I want to replace it with mass-produced abstract art from Target. But I’ve bought some really nice prints from Urban Outfitters, of all places.

  145. I post was extremely helpful. I have to admit I am a bad art offender, but I am trying to evolve, with your expertise of course! I feel like this is a great “Jump to Good Art” Map 🙂

  146. Thank you for addressing art and how it can change and ultimately enhance a home, with a little thought and consideration. People will agonize over fabric, paint, or window shades, but often just resort to finding a mass produced print that “matches”. There are affordable ways to buy art locally through flea markets and college art shows, or antique/vintage shops. Sometimes friends of friends, or family members can be a great resource. And there are many creative ways to hang something that is unique and meaningful that isn’t necessarily “art”. My mom framed two beautiful antique sheet music illustrations that she had from her piano lesson years. Most of the art in our house is my work. I was an art major, and I still occasionally get the urge to create. A few of my daughter’s best art projects have made it on the walls. One is a landscape photo she took with a box camera she made. Visitors often ask where I got the print! As many have commented, art made by someone you know, or from travels, or with memories attached is meaningful, and often more interesting than dozens of repetitive family photos. And how many of us need another designer bag that will wear out, when you could spend the same amount for something really beautiful or inspiring that will last?

    A few easy tips: if you have a mass produced canvas and you hate it I have a simple solution. Paint over it with chalkboard paint and use white or colored chalk to create your own contemporary abstract work, which you can easily change whenever, since it’s just chalk. Kids think this is great fun, btw. And there is a really simple and inexpensive way to frame a canvas using pine strips, no power tools needed. This link should direct you to Jon Peters simple frame tutorial on YouTube, which is the same method I learned in college.


  147. Bravo, Emily!!! I absolutely LOATHE the trend of typographical platitudes posted as art all over the place. And I’m a graphic designer. Just, no.

    Of course the cheesy prints of famous art are also so bad. It’s so easy to find awesome art out there, just hit a few thrift and antique stores and you’ll find something one of a kind. One of my favorite art scores were some very, very old and LARGE photographs of local lakes that were in original frames. I found three of them and they all date to probably the 1930s so they have that perfect sepia color. They are beautiful, completely unique, and cost me less than $20 from Salvation Army.

    1. Wish you had left the mention of politics out of it. Don’t really see how that added anything. Sure appreciate all of the time, expertise and attention to detail you put into each post though. Thank you.

  148. I love this post! I collected most of the art I have now, when I was a student in art school. I also did a lot of art trades!
    If you are not in art school, many programs have end of the year art sales where you can get a great deal on original art.

  149. But whyyyyyy is Keep Calm and Carry On not included on the DO NOT BUY list and instead is listed as cool typography?! Sob sob sob sob. Everything else I agree with though 😉

  150. I love this post! I remember annoying my college roommates because I didn’t want to hang up “fine art” posters in our dorm room. I just thought they looked tacky. BUT I WAS RIGHT!!! ha.

    I agree with pretty much all of these points, which is unfortunately why most of the walls in my home a completely bare. sigh.

  151. Thanks so much for this post! I especially love all the good alternatives; you aren’t just pointing out bad art, you’re giving real advice and adding value. Of course people are free to make any of these design ‘mistakes’ if it speaks to them but some people want to hear from an expert on their opinion of what’s a good or bad idea. I love it! And I should say that I got my tattoo “upside down” according to the tattoo artist but I liked it that way and did it anyway. I am still glad he told me his opinion, because he’s the expert!

  152. Oh my gosh, Emily! I could not agree more about EVERYTHING in this post!!! Ahh, I want to post it to my FB timeline but then I know SO MANY people with BAD art and BAD art hung TOO HIGH!! It drives me bananas! One of my biggest pet peeves for sure!

    The others are right, it’s like when your GF has a dark mustache growing and it really needs to be waxed and you know you’re gonna hurt her feelings but SOMEONE HAS to say something, for her own good! and maybe a bit for yours. Lol

  153. One of my favorite things to hang is my kids art. Matted and framed it looks amazing. I have my own staging business (no offense taken) and I hate generic and mass produced art. I may hang a few of those once in a while but I supplement the generic with fantastic finds on Etsy, Ebay and my kids playroom. I also have a number of photos taken by my wonderful sister in law…my favorites I hang over and over again are photos she took of he Mary Tyler Moore house in MN. I have it in all four seasons and one after dark.

  154. Interesting post. One thing that I like to do more of is having my own photos printed in large format. Does anyone know of a good source? It seems like “poster” sizes, e.g. 2 x 3 feet are the only options for retail customers like me. Then of course the next problem is framing.

    1. I do this using whitewall, great quality

    2. Framebridge! They don’t charge to print out digital images that you upload, and the framing is super reasonable.

      I’ve used them a ton and I can’t speak highly enough.

      I’ve had some digital images printed out in large formats; they use really high quality printers.

    3. Hi Idril. As you probably already know, the bigger the digital file size, the bigger the potential for enlargement of your own photography on a variety of materials, such as paper or canvas. Check out custom frame shops that provide wide format printing options. Just search for wide format printing and picture framers in your area. Go with someone that has a 44 inch wide printer or larger. (Remember that would be the smaller length or width of your intended project because canvas and paper comes on a roll!)

      Don’t forget that some images enlarge better than others for lots of reasons, and a good printer will have examples of the finished goods for you to see in their shop.

      1. Tonya, Rachel S, Leslie V, thank you for your suggestions!

        I live in a particularly photogenic part of the country now and often capture the most beautiful landscapes on my digital camera while out doing my hobbies. Putting up more of my own prints seems like a perfect way to combat the meh I feel when looking at most “art” options . 🙂

        Now if only I could convince the landlord to let me repaint these horrible “tan” walls…

  155. Great post, and every rule is true. You are doing the world a service 🙂

    Please add celebrity photo portraits to the “don’t” list? Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe or James Dean would not hang out in your apartment in Reseda, even if you did install a faux crystal chandelier.

  156. Bravo Emily and team! I so agree!

    Also you wrote that post beautifully, with lovely tone and SO OBVIOUSLY no offence intended – in fact you clearly encourage people to buy what makes them smile, even regardless of your advice. I hear that! You’re doing great work and I’m sorry for the nasties, but they’re not the majority, promise!
    Keep it up, we love this blog for EXACTLY what it is ??

  157. I personally love original vintage posters. They range in cost from about 200 and have seen one as much as 46,000 USD. They gain value while hanging on your wall and are unique, certain ones are rare, and all are a part of history. Fun to find ones with lots of color to sprinkle more of throughout the room. I spent hours finding just the right one on eBay.

  158. AMEN TO ALL OF THIS. amen amen amen, sister. loved it.

  159. Agree with all of this!!! Which brings me to a question… as designers, how do you handle receiving home decor gifts that you don’t care for? I’m not an interior designer but i put a lot of thought into everything I bring into my home. My inlaws get sort of passive aggressive about me not putting their gifts on display and look for them when they come over. I know they mean well but I can’t keep a closet of stuff to put out when they come over. We’ve even received “art” like above. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

    1. Yes yes yes! My mum has excellent taste and buys me beautiful things but my future inlaws buy some things I can’t stand and then look for them. I would much prefer to donate them to someone/charity in need than taking up precious cupboard space storing them until they come over. (Am dreading the collage that is apparently being made as a wedding gift…)

    2. same here. My husband insists that we display some truly hideous home decor “objets” that his parents send us from India. And they NEVER listen when I say, please don’t buy us anything, nyc apts are small (and also our tastes don’t match). I try to place them a) in a room we use less than others and b) in a part of the room that isn’t immediately visible when you first enter the room or c) hidden on the least visible (and most packed) shelf of a large bookshelf.

  160. This is great advice – helpful and not pretentious, on account of you’ve offered a range of alternatives, not all of which are woefully expensive. My pet peeve is wall mounted letters, such as those in kitchens that say “eat” or “food”…as if we don’t know why we’re in the kitchen. I am also not a fan of the words ‘family’ or ‘love’ on the wall, because it’s like taking really nice notions and turning them into a sort of in-your-face propaganda. At the peak of this trend, my friend (in an ironic way) hung tiny letters that spelled ‘poo’ above her powder room toilet.

  161. Also go to galleries!!!! I own a contemporary art gallery in Chicago (used to work in galleries in LA) and most everything we sell is reasonable priced… we even did a show with many smaller works some starting at $200 and ranging to $750. Many galleries who show emerging art have affordable art to sell, just ask! Also non profit spaces (such as White Columns in New York or LAXART in LA sell editions from well known artists as a fundraiser. Go to art fairs! Art Los Angeles Contemporary just happened in LA or go to NADA in New York or Miami, both show emerging artist. Lots of options. Have conversations with people that work at a gallery… I love talking to clients who are just getting into collecting, most of us are nice, I promise! Also LA Art Book Fair is this weekend which is a fantastic place to go and buy art… so many amazing editions (not just books). It would be nice if you showed how you can buy art in person from galleries versus the other options which you mentioned (which are also great) b/c galleries do a tremendous amount of work for artist’ and its a very difficult business to be in. LA has plenty of emerging artist galleries and unique artist run spaces as does San Francisco, Chicago, and New York (and even smaller cities like Austin and Nashville). I’d be happy to make some suggestions.. .but I highly recommend going to an actual art gallery that represents artist and works with them directly. I often recommend another gallery to clients if I think they’ll like something elsewhere, it’s a great community to be a part of and I think it’s important more than ever to support artist making actual art. Following smaller auctions is also an amazing way to buy art (you can get such good deals) and often smaller museums or non profits hold yearly auctions as fundraisers.

    1. Thank you for bringing up galleries. Buying from a gallery benefits us starving artists, something a second hand store purchase cannot do. Plus you can discuss with the gallerist, a true expert, on the proper way to hang and light artwork.

    2. Interesting. I would expect galleries to be expensive options not the other way around. I haven’t been in a gallery since … well a long time ago.

      One thing I’ve noticed is coffee shops and some mom-and-pop restaurants that decorate with art that have “price tags”. They display the art until someone wants to buy it then they get something else.

      1. I bought one of my favorite pieces from a small restaurant near work. They showcase local artists and I fell in love with the piece. It was a limited edition screen print, and I got #1 of 12. I also had lunch with the artist, which was a lot of fun.

    3. YES YES YES!!!!

  162. I’m so grateful for this post! Picking art for our home has been such a slow, ongoing process. I almost committed the photo-on-canvas sin (and not an inexpensive sin, at that!) but you’ve reassured me that I made the right choice in skipping over that option when our photographer presented it. I just used Framebridge for the first time and really liked the whole experience.

  163. So great! I looked for years for a Starry Night poster (gah) b/c the budget was so low…so low that even a poster was over….thank goodness (in hindsight)! I just framed my two youngest boys’ interpretations of the original (different colors, different emphasis) and have them on our walls…one in the main hallway and one over the boys’ closet (5 share it). I can switch them b/c same size. Now, I do realize that women who are not moms, or women who have better taste than I do would think, “That is FUGLY!” And I am totally great with that b/c pre-kids, I thought kid art was just that. But man these are good. :-)!!! Now for the wrap around family photo faux canvas. Crap! Luckily I only have one up, but I appreciate the warning, and I will heed your advice.

  164. Gurrrrrrrrrrrl every design mistake is suh true – impossible to be a hater for this one!
    Agree with another poster – if only there was a way to send this anonymously to some friends and family…..

  165. Oh no! Just when I thought I had things figured out!

    I’ve been looking for art to go over our sofa for ever. I listened to Emily’s rules about size (How to Hang Art Correctly) and began looking for art that was at least 55″ long. I fell in love with this artist at Minted (https://www.minted.com/store/contacessi). But, when I got quotes for framing, I learned I would have to spend at least $450 on the frame alone. With the art, I would be spending $700! I just can’t justify that in light of our current financial goals.

    So I was very excited when I found that the same artist had art for sale on icanvas. By waiting for a sale, I could own her art for less than $300! But, it would be a wrapped canvas, much like the examples above. Does this automatically make it tacky? Would it now be considered mass produced?

    Fellow readers, what do you think? I have already been to a lot of art shows, thrift shops, flea markets and first Fridays and had no luck. I have my heart set on a large art piece, not gallery walls or art ledges. This is a big investment, and I want to get it right. Any advice?

    1. Hi Lisa. Depending on the size of your selected stretched canvas, consider pricing framing called a float frame. It won’t cover the edge of your canvas. In fact, it is spaced away from the edges, leaving a shadowed channel on the outer edges of the canvas.

      Also, although framing seems pricey, a good framer will help you with your vision of a more completed appearance to your art and home. You can start with the wrapped canvas you love. Hang it while you save your money for your framing budget. When you are ready to frame your piece, know that many custom picture framers will entertain payment options over a little time. If you see value and long term enjoyment in that canvas print of yours, make it look like you finished it to its full potential.

    2. Hello! First, I love all this dialogue about art. I do believe it is so very personal, and by reading all of these comments, there are definitely a mix of emotions.

      Lisa, I’m so happy to hear that my work speaks to you. Because of your question, I thought I’d weight in with my perspective as an artist. I sell my original work mostly through gallery partnerships. That is the most expensive offering of my work. I also sell reproductions directly through my website (www.JuliaContacessi.com) and through trusted partners like Minted and iCanvas. They are not mass produced, but they are created by professionals so that the quality is of the highest level. The reason I work with different partners is so that I can offer different finishing options at different price points. I also realize that not every style works for everyone. Artwork is personal, right?

      So from Emily’s point of view, gallery wrapped canvas reproductions are a no-no. That’s her expert option, but if the work speaks to you and you love it as a canvas, break the rule:) I have in my home.

    3. I think if it’s a big investment (10 years?) that you want to get right, you should buy the art and wait until you can have it framed. If it’s a baby investment (2-3) years, buy the canvas. The big investment piece will always find a spot in your home, even if it eventually gets relegated to the guest room. The canvas will be sold on a mom’s fb group whenever you get sick of it.

  166. Lol I’m a rule breaker I guess… My favorite piece is a canvas wrap from our wedding. The very edge has the beautiful image of my best friend at the corner. I say rules are meant to be broken and judge away… It’s not your house!

  167. Haha! Love these. What about when generic diptychs are hung uneven (one high, one low)? You see that so much in “staged homes” for sale. That makes me want to take a rusty screwdriver to my brain through my eyes. lol

  168. Love this article and that it is from a designer.. It seems lately, designers have made a big deal about art as part of a room’s design not art as something that makes you happy, or thoughtful, or inspires you. I love every piece of art I’ve bought over the years. I only buy art that speaks to my heart. If it speaks to your heart, it will work in your home as a reflection of you and isn’t that what a home is a reflection of our heart and soul?

  169. I own a gallery wrapped abstract print from a contemporary artist. It’s not mass produced or generic, but it is gallery wrapped. Does this mean both me and the artist have poor taste? Not loving these “rules” TBH.

  170. Not mad at all! Actually, I agree with everything you said. (Does that mean I have good taste?!) Good refresher.

  171. Fake plants/trees. Yay or nay? I feel the quality has improved a lot in recent years for fake trees, but am still iffy on it.

    1. I’m a firm nay. Ha, but then I end up liking them in other people’s homes. But really hate them in mine. Haha!

  172. You guys NAILED this. This is a fantastic post and I can see the large amount of time and thought it took. So many wonderful pieces. Thank you for all the inspiration. I’m slowly (SLOWLY) DIY renovating my 1929 home with two littles in tow. Art will be hung someday.

  173. This was a great post and so helpful in so many ways. Buuuut… how do I fix the mistakes I’ve made?! I am guilty of the family photos on canvas. Should I get them framed? Or just get rid of them and opt for actual photographs in frames? My walls are my nemesis! I have TONS of wallspace and I feel like I just do not know how to fill it up without it becoming generic. I love the idea of gallery walls but I cannot seem to achieve the look I want.
    I also have many “vintage” posters that we bought on a trip to Europe. I know they are mass produced but I do love them. Would they be good in nice frames?
    Love your blog and your honesty!!

    1. Few thoughts: If you already have the gallery canvases, keep them, or work your way out of them, but don’t hang them in central locations like behind the couch. Put them on those strange small walls in a hallway or in a small bathroom. And just start buying real art. Haha! I personally think that buying for a spot is not the way to go. Buy art you love, or just like looking at, I think it’s easier in person than online, b/c online there are SO many options, buy it and then move it around in your house until it feels right?! Try to fill a space. So think BIG behind the couch. 24 x 18 over a console table. Etc. Framed vintage posters could up the cool factor in like a play room, rec space, kitchen, or guest room. But nowhere that is supposed to be more “grown-up” , so not your bedroom or your main living spaces.

  174. This was an incredibly helpful post.

  175. I agree so so much! I go into so many homes and see some cheesy print you can by at the local mart of choice and don’t even get me started on canvases! Makes me crazy! I find most of my art at flea markets or thriftshops! I do have one piece I bought from a department store that I still LOVE! It hangs in my mudroom and is a city scape with a chuncky wood frame. I ended up adding antique doorknobs to the frame and it is a great place to hang coats and bags. It still makes me happy when I see it, so it stays!

  176. Can ANYONE help me find this print I came across on Instgram a few months ago? I loved it and I found the website that sold it, and then it dissapeared into the internet. I’ve searched and searched!

    It looks mid century modern, a black line drawing of two loosely sketched birds (maybe three), interconnected.


  177. AGREE! I think bad, cheap art is the number one thing that brings down a room and there is no reason to stop shouting about how easy and inexpensive it is to find original art online. When I got married, we had a tiny city apartment and cash gifts leftover since we didn’t have room to buy lots of ‘stuff’. I decided that buying a nice piece of art would probably be a good choice since our walls were bare, we would keep the art forever, and up til that point, we had never spent serious (any?) money on art. It was the best decision because we truly enjoyed that picture every day and even now 20 years later, we always look for a special place to hang it every time we move. Better yet, it inspired us to replace future anniversary presents with a piece of art so every year we add to our ‘collection’ when we see something that we both like.

  178. I think Emily is trying to say: professional designers don’t make these mistakes and this is why professionally-designed rooms look so put together. It’s the extra attention to detail that makes us all swoon. Can you have a lovely, personal space with faux-finished walls and hotel art? Totally. But I think we’re all here to refine our tastes and take our homes to the next level. Short of hiring a professional designer, taking a critical eye to our design choices is the best way to do that. I can get defensive when someone critiques my work (I’m a writer) but I won’t get better that way.

  179. Thanks for the shout out Emily (#24, Minted, Spiced Cider – Landscapes). Glad to be part of this great article!

  180. As a fine artist I stand behind originals. A lot of these print marketplaces (minted, etc) are giving the artist a tiny royalty per sale. While I’m glad for that, it is also a bit like fast fashion. Running to Old Navy versus buying sustainably made. I make my own paintings and offer prints that I also do myself because I am trying to make a career and a living. Why not support individual artists directly rather than shop for the biggest bargain in an online mall? There’s nothing WRONG with doing that, but I ask others to consider what is going give their house a cozy homey feel and remember you can never go wrong working directly with an artist! You can find so many great ones and connect directly right through Instagram, and it’s fun to search!

    1. I bought a print directly from the artist (well, via Etsy), so I guess that’s better? I did try to buy the original but sadly, it was sold long ago. I loved the piece so much that I bought a big print of it because not having it wasn’t an option.

  181. I loved this post! That’s all.

  182. Thoughts after 24 hours and a 21 Pilots concert:
    Art selection is definitely venturing into taste and opinion territory. While you are stepping on toes, you forgot to make a Rule: No Thomas Kinkade Ever. That will piss off a few more people.
    All the things you say here (but *mostly* money- which while you remember being poor, you don’t remember it vividly enough) are the reasons my walls are and have been mostly empty. Forever. I thrift, but I swear even the “bad art” that I love gets picked over for the frames. So, my walls are largely bare. I don’t even notice it anymore, but I am sure it would weird a home buyer out. Even “affordable” framing is too much when you have five kids and one income. So, what I have it the occasional snag from flea markets and thrift stores.
    Anyway, on the subject of famous art prints. I am of the opinion that you have to be yourself. If look at JW Waterhouse makes you happy, then hang it. And Waterhouse does make me very happy. If you like romantic era images like his, you are NOT gonna find any impressionistic, modern art things in that vein on Minted. Sorry. You love modern. I don’t. It’s not gonna work in my victorian/farmhouse/rustic style. I do love eclectic and personal, but modern is over the line for me. So, I have this Mona Lisa. Yes, I do. Printed on a scroll like canvas. I haven’t frame it yet (see above). What I love about having reproductions of famous art is the IRONY that I would sooner get struck by lightening AND win the lottery simultaneously than ever own that kind of art. It is amusing to me. So, again, if I love something AND it amused me, double win.
    Anyway, there you have it.

  183. I completely agree with all of these! Emily has fantastic taste in art, and is just sharing her guidelines on how to find art that will help keep your space sophisticated. I think she did a great job offering multiple art styles, and also explaining why certain art isn’t the best choice. I think people who are bugged by these posts are funny. Of course she has her own do’s and don’ts…every designer does. But she’s explaining how she sifts through generic art to find sophisticated art that creates a beautiful, unique, and cultured space.

  184. Bravo and well done!

    A note on the Work Hard and Be Nice–I bought it directly from the artists website, instead of from School House. It was less expensive even with shipping and made me feel like the artist got the full cut.

    AND I love it so much and don’t want it to be ubiquitous like the Keep Calm bc I want it on our walls forever!

  185. Thank you for the canvas wrapped frames comment…have always felt this but couldn’t properly explain it. Similarly I hate when artist paint the sides of canvases…I like being able to see the messy ( authentic ) process of painting. Also dailypaintworks.com is a great resource. It’s artists who sell, but unlike trying to search through etsy it’s just art…some great reasonably priced art on there

  186. Yes to all of this! Generic art and furniture sets are the worst in my book. I assume that most people who read your blog agree. There are many out there though who just want their home easily filled and don’t care so much about the particulars. I’m fortunate that I have an art background and can and do mostly make my own artwork.

  187. Haha yes!! Plus any Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn pop art/silhouettes 😉

  188. Thank you for this! I struggle with art myself, but refuse to hang items that are not unique. I appreciate you addressing what I’d hope we all think. We’ve all fallen into this trap where we see the same painting over and over again and feel like we have to have it too. Luckily, I’ve gotten away from this or in the process of doing so. Love reading Design Mistakes….give us more!

  189. Hi Emily, I love these design mistakes – please don’t stop doing them! I am renovating a small house at the moment and don’t even know where to begin with a lot of it – and I don’t have the money to replace anything if I panic buy it and regret in six months. These articles are so, so useful for me as a guide. As you say if you love something the rules go out the window, but when you are faced with a million choices guides like these are very helpful indeed!

  190. very brave of you to stay with Keep Calm now that it’s been officially dissed by the Design Gods (and now that we know it was never actually used during WWII)!

    I still like it too — might actually like it more knowing its complicated past.

  191. How do you know they were set apartments! This is bursting my bubble majorly! I did think that Rachel’s house was pretty boring and small considering it was in Texas and her dad’s a judge…

  192. Oh gosh, I doubt anyone will read this (SO many responses). But just in case…I have zero taste and ability to do much with my home (Emily and crew would use it as a “before” for certain). HOWEVER, even I knew that shit in the Bachelor “homes” was terrible/awful/bad.

  193. All of those are so spot on. Thanks for posting this. I am forwarding it on to everyone I know 😉

  194. Luckily I live in a city with an art school, MICA, and lived in a city with an art school, Corcoran, and have filled my house with beyond amazing original art at great prices. Art schools typically hold sales so the students can make some money and MICA especially has an end of school year sale that is just fantastic (as well as their Christmas market). Inexpensive, beautiful, lots of different mediums and styles, lots of different price points and you are supporting a budding artist. Score all around.

  195. I loved this post! I don’t think you’re being snobby. If anyone has these ‘wrong’ items in their home but LOVES them then they should keep them – and they shouldn’t mind your post. They should ask themselves why they care if a professional designer has different taste than they have?

    I have an ‘artwork’ that it so bad it wouldn’t have even crossed your mind to include it (but you would have if you’d written this post in the 70’s) – a big-eyed child on black velvet that I bought at a thrift store. It is truly hideous, which (to ME) makes it hilarious. This artwork is a polemic for my friends – some find it funny and others hate it with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns, and threaten to steal/burn/stab it.

    I also have original art from local artists (check out Michael Sweere if you like mosaics – he is fantastic).

    The point is, everyone has to do what works for them. And if they are confident in their choices that’s all that matters.

    Emily, you and your team gave great guidelines for people who are interested in such things. You linked to wonderful options at different price points. THANK YOU!!!

  196. I love these posts. I don’t find them offensive at all. Aren’t readers coming here because they like your style and point of view???? I think your tone is friendly, informative, and tactful – please keep them coming!

  197. Love this! Whenever I have tried art mistakes like these in the past, something has always bothered me about it so I would take it down. My living room now consists of my own paintings and a photograph of cacti in black and white. I have trouble finding good thrifted oringinal art… but I’m always on the hunt. I do have the quote “Good Vibes Only” hanging in my entry way…I’m curious if this is good or bad art? I’m generally not a “quotes” as decor person. Take a look and tell me the honest truth… I can handle it! I really appreciate these posts because it’s very good advice. Emily is just trying to help all of us have beautiful spaces!

  198. Being an art gallery owner, I love this post! One other good source is local high school and university art students. Most host art show/competitions each year. Not only can you find original art at a great price, but you’ll be supporting and encouraging artists to continue. And who knows? Some of those artists will be the next famous ones – while others will have a reproduction – you’ll have an original.

  199. Way to grow a pair! I will always prefer to hear your honest advice than something trying too hard to please everyone.
    Also– have you seen the Buffy episode where she takes on the group of vampires that had been running Sunnydale University? They take all the stuff of the students they kill/sire and there’s this one shot where the Vampires have all the dead students’ art posters hanging on the walls of their den: twenty-something Monets, a bunch of Klimpts, etc. and are making fun of it for being so generic. GOLD.

  200. I think these are good general rules, and I’m not offended, even though I *may* have a Picasso print in my bedroom and a canvas-wrapped print of my girls in the livingroom — and I’m not sorry, lol. I think when it comes to art you have to have the cojones to put up what you love and not just what matches the couch or what Emily Henderson is in love with at Minted this week. :p (I personally think that today’s Max Wanger is tomorrow’s Patrick Nagel and that those Derringer black & whites are totally generic — but then I’m nobody’s style-maker, lol).

  201. Emily, did you keep your Nike Schroeder piece? Maybe I missed it but I haven’t seen it pop up in the new house on on your blog or Instagram.

  202. Hey Emily! I wanted to expand on the idea of choosing art with a perspective or opinion or voice, whatever you want to call it. I’ve spent a stupid number of hours on saathchiart.com really getting in touch with what I like. I’ll bet anyone a dollar that unless they’ve invested the time in looking at thousands of canvases, they don’t really know what they like or understand what it means to say “that art has no soul” and “that artist has a perspective.”

    Generic art has no soul… it’s flat, very little color complexity, no movement, no tension, nothing interesting to say, no unique perspective on the subject. What about those impressionistic styled landscapes and city scapes? Those are the worst! They feel safe because they remind us of a handful of high school art history textbook pages.

    Art doesn’t have to be “great” or “known” to grab your attention… when a piece tells you it’s story and pulls you in to its narrative, then it’s good enough to be on your walls. Case in point. I’ve been obsessed with Frank Moody abstracts this week. They suck me in… I see vast landscapes and city scapes and can point out the details to you, tell you the story I see, and yet none of it is actually there. The colors and shapes are multilayered and dense. There is so much movement that at first the pieces look busy. GIve it a couple of mins and your eyes settle on the scene your brain picked out of the schmear of paint. The artist has a personal perspective on color, texture, light, subject… wholly unique to him.

    The point is, everything you said PLUS trying to get a handle on aesthetic theory. If it’s funky and you like it, and you can stare at it for an hour with some wine and music and mellow mood, and you loose yourself in it, even if it was $2, then it’s got soul.

  203. Thank you for the interesting post ! I have been guilty of some of these mistakes in the past. Now I try to stick to personal, meaningful, original art, and to supporting artists and not only buying something because it fills the wall and its cheap. Of course I still love you and you should try very, very, very hard to make me stop loving you, your whole team, this blog, Charlie, Elliot, Brian, Bearcat… Well, you got the picture 🙂

  204. One thing I agree with is the use of “word” art is passe. Almost all of it. I see it everywhere.
    That said, if someone wants a prints to remind her constantly that ‘family matters’ or to ‘smile,’ go for it. When I first saw the sign “Keep Calm and Carry On” I thought it was so cute. I bought one. But that was years ago and it’s been so overused. Still, it’s my home, and if I want it up I’ll have it. My home shouldn’t just be a place to show how cool I am (not).
    (I wouldn’t necessarily label it ‘typography,’ which refers to the form of letters, I believe.)
    Good artwork is very expensive and people don’t want to pay for it (or can’t pay for it). That’s why we have the proliferation of ‘bad’ prints, I think. It’s nice to have some cooler options, but I’m not sure that it dubs the owner a style master.

  205. Emily- Thank you for featuring my painting here! Great post! I am #4 under Landscapes and Floral prints. Just a couple of corrections– that is an original oil painting, not a print, and the title is “Around the Corner” not “Weather Beaten”. It sold recently on Serena and Lily.

    Wow! This article has generated so much discussion about Art! I love it. I think this topic is much needed. I don’t understand all the critics. If Emily was talking about choosing sofas, there wouldn’t be so much negativity. It just goes to show that art is personal. But a LOT of people do want some guidance about choosing art. What works where and why. There are a million choices and this article is a great way to start.

    I don’t create prints of my work, just a personal choice, but I think maybe your readers would like to hear why:
    1. I really want my clients to have a unique work of art. Not one of a hundred.
    2. A flat piece of paper will never capture all the texture and sheen and detail of an original.
    3. My opinion is that if someone is decorating their home and going with their personal taste, why not invest in an original, something that can last for generations? I have some work that is for people on a budget, small and affordable on Etsy and my larger pieces are priced higher, but still ‘doable’. A painting will last a lot longer than a sofa or table that costs thousands of dollars, and have more of a lasting impact. So find an artist you like, keep saving for a special piece and know it will be something that brings you happiness for a long time.

    Having said all that, I have no problem with prints in general. I think they have a place, but maybe not as the central artwork in your home. I love that your article points out that you can mix and match, and I think that is great: flea market finds, prints, original, etc…. I have vintage paintings I have found for $40-$50, original paintings from friends, old original prints (etchings) and even though I certainly have a small budget, I have splurged on a couple of high end paintings from living artists and love them!

    I love what I do. I have been painting for 20 years, have an MFA, and appreciate how much the internet has changed the art world. I can paint full time because so many people can find my work now. When a client tells me how my paintings make them feel, or they remind them of something special in their lives, I know there is a personal connection.

    I didn’t mean to write so much, but I think Emily you have opened an important topic and art is a key part of a well designed room. My personal pet peeve are TV design shows that completely ignore art! A room that is well designed, but with no art, seems soul less to me.
    -Donna Walker

    1. Hey! Just saw this comment and posted down the line! I immediately recognized your piece. Love your work!

  206. I’m so glad you decided to post about bad generic art and I totally agree with everything you pointed out. I hope it inspires folks to break out of their comfort zones and elevate their style, or hire someone to do it for them! I fear that the people who should heed your advice, are probably not reading your blog…they are out buying mass produced generic art, rugs that are too small, and curtains that hang 5 inches above the ground:-)

  207. I think you totally nailed it – This is a great post and could not agree more with you!

  208. Great post! People should definitely buy “art art” and not “wall art” Also, if you want to get with the times in a bipartisan way, you could buy local American made art from an artist and then have it framed locally by an American craftsperson. A little poking around on Instagram or Pinterest will help you find prints and originals which will be fairly inexpensive if the artist isn’t signed by a gallery.

  209. I just bought a couple of Gray Marlin prints the other day. I was thinking, Oh I hope she doesn’t think those prints are bad!

  210. Love this post, thank you! I come here to read an expert’s advice on how to create a well-designed (or at least better-designed) home. Part of which, of course, is making design decisions that will better reflect my personality and perspective in my own space. Posts like these help me make decisions that do that and avoid those that don’t! It gets me thinking about how to communicate in this other way that’s not totally natural to me. I feel that I NEED to know what makes for interesting and appealing design as well as what doesn’t in order to make the best choices in my home that will make me happiest for longest.

    For those that are offended by these “avoid” type posts, I think people forget two things: 1) you must filter design advice through your own lens – these posts aren’t edicts; and 2) you can be opinionated on what makes “good” and “bad” design and not be judgy about others’ homes. When I go to a friend’s home, I couldn’t care less about their design choices. Just because I have a point of view doesn’t mean I’m imposing it on other people and thinking “oof, awful taste” when I go to their home. Come on!

  211. You bring up a designer’s point of view and many of your examples support it. But many also miss the mark completely. You’re dealing with subjective selections. Many of your selections from both good and bad would look good on any wall when placed well and framed well.
    Your article would be far more helpful by taking fewer examples of both sides and explain to your viewers why they are good or bad. Give them some tips on composition, color, emotion, etc.

  212. I think these opinion posts are actually super helpful. Had I previously considered that diptychs and triptychs are very perilous indeed? I had not. But I’m grateful for the warning! Plus I know in reading your blog that I’m getting your opinion — that’s why I’m here.

  213. I love this and completely agree! We have been in our home for 2.5 years and I still have several spaces that are waiting for the perfect piece. I am pretty picky when it comes to art and it takes me a long time to make a decision. But of course, I had posters and reproductions at one point. One of our main pieces, however is a poster from the Center Pompidou in Paris- it is a Simon Hantai print and I haven’t seen it anywhere else. It was only $20 or so (and a lot more to frame) but I absolutely love it!


    I also made a canvas print out of a photo I took in Athens- it’s just random street art on a garage and I love it too!

    One question though- I am surprised to see Target Watercolor Abstract as something original to buy? I have it and everyday I look at it I hate it more and more. I can’t wait to find something to replace it. The size and color are perfect, but I can’t get over the fact that it was mass produced and it’s not ver original. Besides having a partnership at Target, what do you like about it?

  214. I think you’re probably getting a bit pretentious here. (Sorry, but you asked, and “pretentious” WAS an option you offered.). And I definitely find myself more mad than grateful that you have listed approximately 100% of the ways anyone who wanted to hang something on the walls of their first homes (circa 1980’s-2000’s), as generic and “bad” to hang

  215. Emily out are the BEST EVER. love it

  216. Oh yes oh yes oh yes!!!! Great post. BUT I must go one further :. No more “keep calm and . . . ” So done with this!! I’ve had this Convo with tons of people and they always agree. Let the Brits have it!

  217. Another thought: did you know that many museums rent pieces from their collection? My parents rented a large painting from the Portland art museum. It wasn’t a well known artist- but is WAS an original and very affordable. They had it for 6 months as a placeholder!

  218. Amen! As someone who works in the contemporary art world, there is nothing that makes a home feel and look worse than bad/generic art. I would add “depictions of wine and/or pasta” to the list of greatest offenders…

  219. This post is LOL funny!

    1. Oh, and by that I mean that it’s amusing to me that you “agonize” over telling so many people that what they find to be attractive/moving/whatever is not acceptable because it is not in your wheelhouse. Every single item you selected as your “many, many, many options” only reflect what you personally are drawn to as viable options.

      I love that you appreciate original art, but beyond that you truly do not know much about art. It is best not to ‘school’ others in areas in which one does not personally excel.

      I get that you are surrounded by people who like similar things & I’m sure you are all galled by these atrocities, but maybe take a different approach next time. This could have easily just been another round-up post & it would not have come across as so pretentious.

      (This is only meant as constructive feedback since I doubt you want to become GOOP-esque.) (Although, she does have a huge following, so perhaps that is your goal.)

  220. I have SO many thoughts about this post that are random, so in no particular order.

    1. I’ve committed to buying local art, whenever possible. For me, this is North Carolina and South Carolina artists. As I’ve collected totally reasonably prices, I’ve been surprised how much my house has started to look “southern” in an effortless way.

    2. Remember on that one Design Star episode, where you hung a large black canvas piece of art?! I tried to make those for our bedroom, b/c we were SO POOR and I didn’t want to hang all the things you are talking about. It was a nice attempt. Ha!

    3. I recently visited the MOMA in NYC and have been so excited about learning more about art. Rather than hanging the prints on the wall, I’ve committed to start buying art books, with beautiful pictures, so that my children are exposed to the art (and potentially more interested at a museum) but I also don’t have to feel “cheesy” as you say.

    4. You have one of Donna Walker’s pictures shown. Ahhh! I’ve wanting to buy a painting for a year now, but the time has never been right. You know, kitchen reno and such!

    Great post!

  221. You mentioned triptychs- I was going to put fabric ones (aka fabric wall panels) up on each side of my two-story foyer. It’s an echo chamber when my dogs bark. The fabric will absorb the noise, and I finally found a fabric that will work due to the color, scale, size of repeat, What say you?

  222. This reminds me of a blog I wrote nearly five (!) years ago titled: Stop Buying Audrey Hepburn Posters & Start Buying Shit That Matters. I had just graduated from college and felt too grown up to hang my posters from my room, but didn’t have the money to buy what I really wanted. So I bought stupid stuff and was unhappy. Later, I had an epiphany that local art is a great place to start. And my oh my has my collection grown!

    And wrapped canvases are my BIGGEST pet peeve.

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