How to choose art and focal pieces that are perfect for your space

How to choose art and focal pieces that are perfect for your space

So you’ve whittled down the dozens of paint testers to find the perfect shade, meticulously picked out complementary fabrics for soft furnishings, and carefully chosen every piece of furniture for your room, yet something is missing. Sparse walls and empty surfaces, no matter how beautifully matched in tones, make for an incomplete-looking space, rather than a well considered, homely room.

Choosing art and focal pieces can be intimidating though, especially if you're starting from scratch. But it can also be an exciting process and a way to develop the personality of the room. Since our collections feature a wide range of carefully selected pieces of art, wall decor and focal pieces, we thought we’d share our tips for choosing pieces that are perfect for your own space.

Chinese Silk Painting Prints

Eye level

When you walk into a room, what you find at eye level is usually what you’ll notice first, which is why your walls are the obvious place to start when bringing decorative accessories into a space. Be bold with colours so that your eye is drawn, but consider taking cues from other textures and tones in the room, such as from the finish of pieces of furniture.

These beautiful prints are reproductions of the originals painted onto silk by artist Diane Hill. Their eye-catching design shows dancing butterflies, bamboo and peonies in soft pastel blues that provide a perfect contrast with the darker wood floor and sideboard below, adding detail and lifting this hallway space without being overpowering.

Toraja Wood Carving

Narrow spaces

Whilst you’ll want to retain a certain amount of open space for balance, filling an awkward narrow space which is otherwise neglected can bring real character to a room. A collection of small paintings hung above each other is a simple way to fill such a space, or a tall and narrow piece of artwork will work better still. One of our antique or newly made carved wooden panels is a great way to add detail to a smaller blank space and the range is ever changing as we source new pieces in different sizes and designs.

The incredibly detailed carvings (right) would usually be featured on beams in houses in Sulawesi, Indonesia, but here are displayed vertically on a specially made metal stand to turn them into unusual pieces of art. Created by Torajan artisans using a grid method called 'kira kira’, each is unique and perfect for adorning an awkward or narrow corner.

Yunnan Antique Chinese Carved Screen

Breaking up space

If you're blessed with a large space but it's lacking in structure or well denoted zones for relaxing and working, a screen will work beautifully as both a feature and a practical solution. A screen also has the benefit of being portable so you can rearrange it depending on how you’re using the room at any given time.

The intricately carved panels in this Antique Four Panel Screen incorporate stylised flora and fauna as well as more unusually featured details such as books and calligraphy brushes. The screen originates from Yunnan province in southern China, where the panels would originally have formed part of an internal dividing wall in a home. The carvings are wonderfully executed, beautifully detailed with interlocking, swirling curves - particularly the main sections which are carved through. Hinges have been added so that the screen can be concertinaed to stand alone, or they could be stood side be side as a statement room divider.

Kiko Brass Photo Frames


If you’re reluctant to commit to something permanent, or simply prefer something that you can adapt and change, consider investing in some high quality, statement picture frames.

Our Kiko Brass Frames use a simple pin mechanism for access so that you can quickly and easily change their contents, and they can be mounted in landscape or portrait orientation too. Your picture sits surrounded by glass rather than a traditional mount, making it easier to swap in more unusually shaped and sized pieces, as well as marrying them well with the wall colour behind. The aged brass and linear design will help bring attention to your chosen artwork whilst complementing most interior schemes and aesthetics too, and the recycled sari ties add a unique splash of colour to each frame.

Vintage Chinese Stoneware Jars

Utilise floor space

Creating character in a room is not just about hanging artwork on walls and placing ornaments on furniture. By utilising varying surfaces you’ll create depth and and interest, especially by incorporating different textures and tones.

A large focal piece such as a floor vase will work alongside your soft furnishings and artwork to develop the personality of your room, and one with a narrow base like the ones shown here needn’t take up much floor space either. These old stoneware jars were originally used for storing wine or oil in Shanxi province, central China. Their large size makes them a great fit in the corner of a room, with a black glaze that fits easily into many colour schemes. They are a great way to add shape, definition and contrast to an empty space or to feature a tall floral display.

Bronze Tang Horse

Floor to surface

With flexibility in mind again, it’s worth considering sculptures which work as floor standing pieces as well as on a surface. Being able to move your art and focal pieces around a room, or even to another, keeps things fresh and interesting to the eye.

Our Bronze Tang Horses for example, stand tall enough to work at floor level, yet will sit comfortably amongst a table top arrangement. Made using an antiquing process to replicate similar horse statues from the Tang Dynasty, the bronze has a wonderful patina with neutral tones of gold and green.

Choosing the finishing touches for a space should be a pleasure, and help to tie together your colour scheme, soft furnishings and furniture to build the room’s personality. Take into account how a piece of art will balance with the other elements in the room and how it will help to elevate their characteristics, as well as how they will lead the eye around the space.

Don't forget to utilise various types of space and surfaces, and be bold by choosing three dimensional pieces as well as two dimensional. Remember too that nothing need be permanently fixed and by investing in high quality pieces at the outset, you’ll have them to rotate around the room or others in your home for many years to come.

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