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Scared To Choose Art? We Showed Our Photographer How To Do It With Pretty And Affordable Options

If you have been following along for a while, you know we love writing about choosing and hanging art. Or maybe “love” isn’t the right word. Maybe we just recognize how debilitatingly hard it can be to find art, purchase said art, and then hang that art in an aesthetically pleasing way, so we’ve made it our duty to find and share solutions. This is why we have so many posts in our archives such as: How To Hang Art Correctly, DESIGN MISTAKE: Different Walls, Same Art Configurations, How To Actually Make A Gallery Wall, 7 Unexpected Places I Like To Hang Art, The 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Try to Hang That Gallery Wall, and the list goes on. So when Emily was shooting EHD photographer Kaitlin’s basement reveal, and saw that the rest of Kaitlin’s home was beautifully designed except for one thing – art – she realized this is a common trajectory. MANY people find that choosing art is the hardest part of designing a home or even one room. I remember agonizing over my gallery wall for a solid year before it was completed (and I believe I only found the strength to complete it because I had a hard deadline). Even my years at EHD didn’t fully prepare me for the pain of choosing and hanging art. But sometimes what we all need is to get out of our heads a little bit and have fun with it. So today, using Kaitlin’s real home and blank walls, I am showing you how art can transform a space using the ancient art of Photoshop. In doing so, my hope is to prove that finding good, affordable, tasteful art is less painful than you think. Shall we begin?


Welcome to Kaitlin’s home (and huge thanks to Kaitlin for inviting us in). It is so cute and clearly well-styled and designed (as you can see she has great taste). But without art, the walls are a bit sad and there is definitely a sense of something missing. Kaitlin has shared that she struggles with choosing art because it feels so daunting and permanent. She is not alone. We often get inside our heads about what the art we choose says about us. We can get trapped into believing this narrative that the art on our walls must represent who we are. Folks, I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that deep. Art certainly can represent your style, personality, and even your values, but it doesn’t have to. You can hang art because you like it! It’s as simple as that.

A common misconception is that adults who are serious about art should feel pressure to buy from a gallery or try to procure originals. If you have the opportunity and means to do so that is wonderful, but it’s not the only way to adorn your walls with quality art. As you will see later in this post, big box stores like Target, West Elm, CB2, Crate & Barrel, and so on have really great art options that can completely transform your walls. Then there are amazing second-hand and vintage options on Etsy and Chairish and of course, you can score incredible pieces on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and flea markets. Good art does not have to break the bank, my friends.

Now if you wondering if there is a formula to follow when arranging art in a room the answer is YES! Famously, rooms have at least four walls. So, to make a room feel collected and dynamic you should mix up the variations of art on your walls. For example, you don’t necessarily want to have one large vertical piece of art on every wall. That might make your room look like a museum. Instead, you can choose one of the following for each wall:

  • One small, large, or medium piece (depending on wall size)
  • Gallery wall
  • Grid
  • Diptych or Triptych
  • Mirror
  • Stacked pieces
  • Something sculptural

For you visual learners out there, this graphic is extremely helpful:

Now that you are familiar with the space and parameters, allow me to present some of our favorite art picks and how they can be arranged in a room. Here we go. 

EXAMPLE#1: Minimal And Neutral Art

Layered Paper Dimensional Wall Art Set of 2 (left) | “Mountain High I” Framed Wall Art Print (over the mantel) | Wrinkle Decorative Bowl

To start us off, I pulled together a minimal and neutral art plan that accentuates the calming, relaxed vibe of the space and plays off the light wood tones throughout. The jumping-off point for this style began with the awesome Layered Paper Dimensional Art Diptych. It is perfectly minimal and interesting and has an artisanal look, plus they were big enough to fill the large empty space on the wall. You can buy one individually but as a pair, it creates a cohesiveness that is so pleasing to the eye. To complement the softness of the diptych, I chose this “Mountain High I” Print with a light wood frame. I love how the black strokes bounce off the black accents coming from the fireplace and the bookcase. Finally, to add movement and texture I included this wrinkle decorative bowl that brightens the mantel and provides a sculptural element.

Natural Daisy Chain’ Wall Art

Following our formula above, this wall needed something other than a diptych or triptych, so the room would feel dynamic and nuanced. A medium or large-scale piece felt like the right fit here, and I really love this one from the Leanne Ford x Crate And Barrel collection. It’s woven with cotton fibers to create texture and some movement. 

“Mountain High I” Framed Wall Art Print | Wrinkle Decorative Bowl | Natural Daisy Chain’ Wall Art

As you can see, the pieces on this side of the room are close together so it was important to find art that speaks to each other but are not too similar in size, subject, or shape.

Natia Oak Round Wall Mirror

On the opposite wall, next to the incredible slatted wood room divider, there was a blank space above this plant stand that honestly could have been left alone, but a mirror felt like a great way to draw your eye up. Hanging mirrors is one of our favorite “tricks” when finding the perfect art piece feels impossible. A mirror will make the room feel bigger and help bounce light around the room (which is especially important for rooms with a scarcity of natural light).

Arched Wood Throw Blanket Ladder | White Rice Paper Geo Framed Wall Art 4 Piece

Due to the open-concept floor plan in Kaitlin’s home, the dining area is visible from the living room so it only made sense to continue this art challenge on these two walls. To create more height and a sculptural element on the wall to the left, this ladder was the perfect solution. The arch creates a faux architectural element and the wood tone is really pretty. On the same wall on the other side of the window, this grid of 4 pieces breaks up the wall nicely and gives off a pulled-together, collected vibe.

EXAMPLE #2: Abstract And Bold Art

Finding Balance No. 1 Wall Art (left) | Metal Ring Sculpture (small) | Metal Ring Sculpture (large) | Nature You and Me Print

Switching gears a bit, I wanted to see how moody and abstract art would transform the space. Immediately, the darker cooler palette makes the room feel bold and a little mysterious. I started with the black and white print to the left and loved how it grounded the space. To balance out the darkness, this piece over the mantel created some warmth but still felt cohesive. Then the small and large ring sculptures provided movement while still sticking to the abstract and bold theme.

Shapes 1 Print (top) Shapes 2 Print (bottom)

Oh, I love these prints. Stacking two framed pieces is a great hack if you are having trouble finding a large piece to fill up a blank wall. They don’t even have to be a set (as you will see in another example below) and sometimes you can find two smaller pieces for a more affordable price than one large piece.

Metal Ring Sculpture (small) | Metal Ring Sculpture (large) | Nature You and Me Print | Shapes 1 Print (top) Shapes 2 Print (bottom)

Gerald Large Round Black Wall Mirror

Again, a round mirror on this narrow wall feels like the perfect decor moment. The roundness juxtaposes the hard lines of the room divider and creates a nice contrast. 

Circle & Line Rill Wall Hanging | Ladder Leaning Bookshelf

The narrow space between the plant and window was a little tricky to fill until I found this abstract wall hanging. It provided some much-needed movement and a 3-dimensional element to the room. 

Not art per se, but a ladder shelf like so does provide a sculptural element and since it is close to the kitchen, it could act as a practical storage solution for pretty bowls, vases, and other serveware. 

EXAMPLE #3: Vintage Inspired And Eclectic Art

Shepherd’s Meadow Print | Emma Mirror

Kaitlin’s home is truly a joy to play around with styles and I was really excited to see if I could make vintage-inspired artwork here. I started with this Shepherd’s Meadow Print from Lulu & Georgia to complement the green accent chairs and brass finishes. I immediately LOVED how it looked on her wall and thought an ornate mirror above the mantel would help drive the vintage style home. 

Play Wall Art Print

Sticking with the muted green theme, this print really stuck out to me. It is from Minted, one of our favorite places to source affordable art, and comes in several sizes and frame options. I chose the brass frame to emulate a vintage vibe and I just love how it looks here. It brings in a contemporary element that helps tie in the more modern furniture and architecture. 

Emma Mirror | Play Wall Art Print

Female Body Sketch Art

Instead of including a mirror here, I wanted to play with the idea of hanging a small vintage-inspired framed piece. A larger scale piece would also work here, but opting for a small one is sort of breaking the “rules” which can create a really interesting look. In fact, we are big fans of the “too small” rule-breaking trick because when done right, it looks intentionally eclectic and cool.

Coastal Beach Seascape (top left) | Sailing Boat Painting (top right) | Seascape Painting (middle right) | Framed Oil Painting Print on Canvas (bottom right) | Full-Length Floor Mirror

This seascape gallery wall, inspired by Emily’s family room, brought so much color and life to the walls. If Kaitlin wanted, she could remove the plant on the left to create a larger gallery wall, but I kind of love the asymmetrical gallery wall look. 

Finally, I love how this standing floor mirror provided height and an arch shape to the room.

EXAMPLE #4: Lively And Colorful Art

Mauve Abstract Framed Canvas | Krysia Oval Metal Wall Mirror | Ariel Vase | Toppu Bowl

To conclude this art journey, a more colorful palette seemed like an appropriate way to emphasize the idea that art can be playful and fun. I love the scale and shape of the abstract print on the left and since the colors are muted and soft, it works nicely with the rest of the colors in the room. The mirror adds another unexpected and playful shape while the two small vessels provide a lovely 3-dimensional component.

Contrasting Shapes 1 | Contrasting Shapes 2

Again, stacking two pieces is a great alternative if you are having trouble finding one large piece. These abstract framed prints are quality pieces that bring a youthfulness to the room.

HOT TIP: Try painting your own abstract art and getting them professionally framed for an affordable art solution.  

Checkerboard Weaving Print

This checkerboard print adds more pattern to the room and a happy pop of color. I love how it speaks to the checkered rug and makes the rug pattern pop even more.

Crane Stencil 2 Wall Art | 2pk Neutral Checkers Framed Under Glass | Tea Towel

Stacking two pieces of different sizes and subjects is a great way to mix up the wall art formula. The above piece could have been left alone, but adding a smaller framed piece underneath is a cool trick that feels unexpected and fresh. 

The final art piece on the right side of the wall is a tea towel framed with a white matte. The matting creates a more dialed-in look that appears more expensive. This is one of my favorite affordable art hacks – framing something you love that feels meaningful to you. You can frame a letter, a poem, a ticket, matches from your favorite restaurant, or whatever speaks to you. The possibilities are endless!

Alright my friends, that is all from me. I hope this post helped anyone who has ever felt stress or fear around choosing or hanging art. Let this be your sign to have more fun with it and just enjoy the ART of designing a space 🙂 Until next time. xx 

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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Lauren H
1 year ago

Kaitlin’s house is beautiful. That’s all. 🙂

Jay Elle
1 year ago

The best advice I heard from a seasoned interior designer was: Never match your art to your decor. Embrace friction.

1 year ago

Fun post! I looked around my living room this morning as I was reading and realized I have the formula: a gallery wall, a blanket ladder, a dyptic wall, and a mirror wall, ha.

1 year ago

Thanks for the great examples and tips. It would be fun to hear which one Kaitlin liked best.

emily jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Bonnie

I’m loosey-goosey with my definition of ‘art’ and so have possibilities coming out of my ears but very much enjoyed the breakdown by Ryann (that checkerboard weaving piece inspired me to explore a DIY version with fabric scraps!). I was thinking it would be neat to see a blog post featuring Kaitlin’s in real life/non-photoshopped eventual art choices (also, I greedily want to see more of her lovely home : ).

1 year ago
Reply to  emily jane

I too was inspired by the checkerboard weaving. I have actually done this before but with paper scraps, and seeing this reminded me of it. I used to be a textile designer and have hundreds of color copies of old print designs in my studio. One day I decided to cut a bunch of them up into strips and weave them together. Then I dropped a fun quote in the middle. Fun project! I am also curious which version Kaitlin chose to implement. Good job Ryann!

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1 year ago
Reply to  emily jane

If you’d like more inspiration for DIY art, Kate Chipinski,, has some interesting ideas!
And also, thank you Ryann. This really was a very useful and well written post! Best of luck to you!

1 year ago

So helpful! Great post

1 year ago

Ryann!! This was SO fun. Add it to the list of favourite Ryann posts! 🥲❤️
And Kaitlin!! Wow. Thank you for opening up your home for this, that was really generous. These shots (even sans art) are so pretty – a breath of fresh air. Can you share the sources for your living room rug and that wood pedestal side table?
If you’re ever up for it, I’d love to see more of your home. Because you are part of the EHD crew, I’ll be more excited for a “progress tour” than I’d ever be for a more “finished” tour of a stranger’s. I.e. Don’t wait until it’s “done” with art added or any other improvements in your future – those could be great update posts later! 
Off to pin 🙂

1 year ago
Reply to  Vera

The rug looks like the Polly from Chris Loves Julia x Loloi, and the table looks like the Round Wood Pedestal Accent Table from Hearth & Hand at Target.

1 year ago

Excellent explanation with great examples, Kaitlin!
I think the hardest part about choosing and mixing art is 1) matching and limiting the color palette, and 2) getting a variety of shapes to work together cohesively. You really illustrated ways to tackle those issues. Well done!

1 year ago

This was so helpful!! Love seeing everything laid out like this.

1 year ago

Wow! This is so helpful and inspiring. Great job with the variety of real examples.

1 year ago

This was a great post! Super useful and amazing to see how art transforms the vibe of the space. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Options 1 and 2 are lovely and serene but 3 and 4 feel more unique and personal and take it to a more interesting place.

1 year ago

I have TONS of art, most of which is cheerfully ridiculous. I had a carefully arranged gallery wall in my living room for years, until I realized I didn’t even see the individual pieces any longer. So I hung up three picture ledges (one large ledge hung alongside two smaller ones, stacked vertically) and now I swap out my art seasonally. It’s not as visually balanced as it used to be, but it’s way, way more engaging. Plus, now I feel great buying something like a Katie Benn drawing of a lady wildly dancing with some ghosts–when I don’t need to find a picture a “forever home”, I can absolutely love it to pieces during its annual moment in the sun (in the dancing ghosts example, that’s September 21st until Halloween) and then stuff it under my guest room bed the rest of the year.

1 year ago

Would love to know where you got the beautiful shelving unit! Thanks!

1 year ago

What a great post – so fun to read and see the different examples. Really helpful.

julie gallichotte
1 year ago

Would you mind sharing the source for the two green arm chairs? thanks!

Sarah F
1 year ago

I’d love to know where her chairs and couch are from!

1 year ago
Reply to  Sarah F

Maybe the West Elm Penn chairs and Hamilton sofa?

1 year ago

I loved seeing the different styles in the same space; super helpful here! Now I’m so curious which way Kaitlin will go – please keep us posted. One question though: any sourcing info for those green velvet chairs? They’re exactly the shape that I’ve been looking for!

So many of our clients have been in the same boat. We love how you provided so many options!

1 year ago

This is a great post. Such a beautiful, well-appointed home furnished with a great eye. Love seeing the different kinds of art and their different moods. Now, how does one find these interesting pieces? I get so overwhelmed scrolling through websites….

1 year ago

For anyone who likes 20th century artists and more vivid color — I’ve had good luck with exhibition posters from museums featuring artists like Richard DIebenkorn, Jacob Lawrence, Mark Rothko, David Hockney, etc. Usually you can find them for under $50 and get them nicely framed to your taste. Then you have something that is easier to hang than ready-made items that (because of their weird hardware and lack of reinforcement) can require wall anchors. Have also found nice wrapped canvases from web sites like I recently got a large landscape from there professionally framed and was thrilled at the result — it looks like some kind of heirloom 😉

1 year ago
Reply to  Ally

Love your artist list, especially Diebenkorn and Hockney!
Yes, prints of their work would be beautiful in homes, I’ve seen photos of the original paintings in homes and they are spectacular!

1 year ago

My comments are in backwards order today. This one should’ve been first — this is a really helpful and nicely done post! Thank you Ryann.

1 year ago

Love this article so much, Ryann! It’s so helpful, instructive, & inspirational!
Wishing you the best in you next adventures, Ryann, & so glad you’ll still come back to post on this blog sometimes! I’ve loved all your posts over the years–you’re a rock star!

1 year ago

Cute dog! And fun article.
Not so necessary for me, because I’ve NEVER found it hard to choose and arrange art. My mom took us kids to museums starting when we were really little, so I think I soaked it up by osmosis. Arranging art can be as much fun as re-arranging the furniture. Try it you’ll like it!

1 year ago

Please tell us where the chairs and couch are from?

1 year ago

Don’t forget about art schools when looking for inexpensive art. It’s not as cheap as Target or TJ Maxx but you’ll have an original! And art on canvas doesn’t require expensive framing.

1 year ago

Yes, schools and also local art fairs!

Amy Elizabeth Jones
1 year ago

Do you have a source for the awesome green velvet chairs in this post? Thank you, thank you!

1 year ago

This is such an important topic! I hope more people are inspired and empowered to hang art up. It’s OK to change it up, too! In fact it’s a lot easier than moving chairs around or buying a new couch. Rotating your art can help you freshen and enliven your space. It’s OK to “make mistakes” try again. As an artist i want to make a plug for buying direct from artists! We love it and are so flattered when people reach out to us on instagram or our websites and I try to make it easy to find stuff by listing hashtags like abstract, warm palette, blue painting etc. PLUS you can get things more affordably than in most commercial galleries. Often artists will sell downloadable prints on Etsy so you can get something instantly, tape it up and decided whether to frame or not. Thanks so much for this post and all your others.

1 year ago

Yes! I have bought all my artwork directly from artists on IG, FB, blog posts, newsletters, after an art demo, art fairs, and studio visits usually during some sort of Open Studio event. I love being able to talk with the artist about the artwork they created, it makes it even more special!