How to Buy Art with Natasha Radmehr

With an inspirational collection of modern and contemporary artists set to exhibit their work this weekend – 06 to 08 May – at Inception in Dalkeith Palace, some of you may be thinking about purchasing a special piece to add to your home. We asked the Deputy Editor of Homes & Interiors Scotland – Natasha Radmehr – to give us her top tips on buying art for your home. Let this be your guide on where to start, what to buy and how to find the perfect piece for you.

Natasha Radmehr, Deputy Editor of Homes & Interiors Scotland

I’d spent days agonising over the right colour for the walls (Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground), weeks scouring vintage shops for affordable mid-century furniture, hours deciding whether I should bite the bullet and buy the ubiquitous Berber rug that half of my Instagram feed already seemed to own. Yet when I stepped back to admire the living room in my flat, the space felt strangely incomplete. And that’s when it dawned on me. Other than a lick of paint, the walls were totally bare. I needed some art.

It’s not until you hang a painting or find the right position for a framed print that you understand the transformative power of a work of art. As soon as I sourced the right pieces for my living room, the space became exactly that: somewhere with a bit of life, a splash of colour, a jolt of personality. A place that felt characterful and lived-in, in the best possible way.

If you’re staring at four barren walls and wondering where to begin with choosing the right art for your room, I have some good news for you: there are no hard-and-fast rules. However, there are some simple tips to bear in mind that’ll help to focus your mind if you feel overwhelmed by the abundance of options available. Here’s how to curate your very own gallery at home.

Be yourself

Your art collection should be an extension of you. Focus on what brings you visual pleasure, rather than what’s trending. Not too sure where your tastes lie? Head to an art gallery or art show and pay attention to the works that draw you in and provoke a visceral reaction. Start your journey this weekend at the Inception Art Show in Dalkeith Palace.

Suss your space

Don’t make the rookie error of buying art without figuring out what size it should ideally be. Use painter’s tape to try out different configurations until you find a size that looks right. Generally speaking, it’s best to think big, unless you prefer the idea of having a collection of smaller pieces.

Factor in the furniture

Not sure where you’d hang it? Consider placing it above a sofa, bed or fireplace. Aim for it to be around two-thirds of the width of the furniture, and don’t leave too much of a gap between them – hanging at eye-level tends to be a winner.

Find new talent

Few of us can afford to buy an original Cézanne or Picasso. Stay on budget by looking into emerging artists – Instagram can be a great place to spot up-and-coming talent, or if you’d rather see the work in person, visit degree shows and local art fairs. An inspirational collection of modern and contemporary artists, sculptors, photographers and painters to share their work at the Inception Art Show from Friday 06 May to Sunday 08 May.

Set your budget

Having done some research, you’ll start to get an idea of what you can typically expect to pay for an artwork. From there, you can decide on a realistic budget. As a general rule, works on canvas cost more than works on paper, and the larger the piece, the higher the price tag.

Mix it up

You don’t have to tie the colour of your artwork in with the palette of your room. Sure, that creates a very harmonious aesthetic – and if that’s your style, go for it – but a work in contrasting colours could make more of a statement. Plus, your décor can change over time; the art cannot.

Learn about the artist

Found a piece you love? Do some research into the artist’s background to discover more about their story and body of work. Not only will this give you a deeper appreciation of them, but it will also provide more context as to how the piece you’ve spotted sits within their wider repertoire. Artist pictured is Christine Clark who will be exhibiting her incredible work at Inception from 06 to 08 May in Dalkeith Palace. 

Inspect the materials

Quality matters. Has the artist used materials that will stand the test of time? If paper has been used, ask if it is archival, which offers the greatest longevity. Make sure there is no mould on the paint, and inspect the back of the painting too for any signs of wear or damage.

Go bespoke

Some artists will accept commissions. This is helpful if you’ve fallen hard for someone’s style but they don’t have any pieces that feel right for your home. The artist will want a specific brief, and may even come to see the room in which the piece will hang.

Remember hidden costs

If you buy at an auction, you’ll need to factor fees, shipping and handling into the final price of your piece. But even if you’re buying directly from the artist, there are other costs to consider: you’ll want to insure your art (you can get specific policies for fine art), as well as have it professionally framed.

Here at Restoration Yard we love delving in to all things art, interiors and culture. Join us at the Inception Art Show this weekend at Dalkeith Palace - 06 to 08 May. Book your tickets here.