Our top 6 designer tips to select and display artwork!

Art is such an important element in a home’s interior design, it adds interest and personality and can have a transformative effect on a space! But one of the most frequently asked questions we hear from clients is for our tips to select and display artwork!

We often select and curate artwork for our client's homes and it’s aways telling to see their initial reaction to it – we can usually tell straight away if they connect with the piece of art or not. It’s an extremely personal choice and a significant investment, so it’s important that a client loves it!

To help you with how to select and display your artwork, we’ve listed our top 6 designer tips to make your artwork selection a fun experience and remove the overwhelm!

[Note that we recommend Steps 1-5 are to be completed before you visit galleries or start your search!  Think of it as your fun artwork research assignment!]


Our biggest piece of advice is to try not to overthink it! Trust your instincts and your initial response to a piece – loving your artwork is so important and the process of selecting it should be fun and joyful!
Artwork | Anna Curnuck; Double Bay II Project | McMillan Design

1. Discover the feeling you want to create

Start by feeling, not thinking! Knowing the ambience and the vibe that you want to create in the space is important! For example, do you want your space to feel calm and relaxed, energized and invigorated or joyful and playful? This will give you direction for what artwork you’re looking for and the feelings it should evoke.

Dining room design, artwork, interior design, McMillan Design
Artwork| Lynn Baird; Mosman II Project | McMillan Design

2. Know your design style

This can help provide direction and an anchor point for selecting your artwork. Start by creating a mood board to demonstrate the style you love and what resonates with you. Then when you see an artwork that you like – you can place it into the mood board and see if it works.

You can also share it with your gallery of choice to give them insight to what they’re helping you find. For instance….

  • For a relaxed coastal style, you may gravitate to something with softer coastal hues, artwork with texture or even a woven piece sculpted from nature.
  • For a contemporary style, you'd want your home to feel fresh and modern, so consider a bold photographic piece, a luminescent artwork or sculptural artwork.
  • If you prefer a tranquil Japandi style, you may decide on a moodier artwork that’s organic in shape, colour and style.

If you need help discovering your design style, check out my previous blog post here.

Artwork in kitchen design
Artwork | Maritsa Micos; Camperdown Project | McMillan Design

3. Decide your colour palette

Know the colours you’re drawn to - the colours you love. But also think about colours you want to avoid. Place the colours you love onto your mood board and see if they complement the style you’re trying to achieve.


Consider if you like bold colours or soft neutral tones? Do you want your artwork to be a contrasting statement in the space to bring some energy OR would you prefer the artwork to be a subtle complementary piece?

Living room design, artwork, blue colour palette, artwork select and display
Artwork| Eva Frengstad; Wollstonecraft Project | McMillan Design

4. Measure up and scale

One of the most common and noticeable mistakes we see with artwork is when it’s not the right scale – either squashed into a wall that’s too small or floating on a wall that’s too large or not the correct scale for the other elements in the room.

It’s very difficult to give precise sizing tips because every space is different, and it’s best to get specific help with the exact measures for your home. But the main consideration is that prior to selecting your artwork, you should measure the wall that you intend to hang the artwork, as well as any furniture or elements that are in the immediate area that need to work visually alongside the artwork.

For example, if you’re hanging artwork above your bed, measure the bedhead, bedside tables and position of your wall sconces, so you know the exact space you have to work with.  Or if you’re placing artwork above a fireplace or console or next to a dining table – measure all the related furniture as well as the hanging wall space so you can ensure you select something that’s in scale with the other elements.

Scale is SO important and can really make or break a space.

Bedroom design, artwork
Artwork | Margaret Woolley; Mosman II Project | McMillan Design

5. Know your budget

Go into the selection process with clarity on how much you want to invest. You can always start small if you want to build your confidence before making a more significant investment – consider buying a smaller piece of art by an artist you love, rather than spend the same amount of money on a larger piece that’s not as special.


Artwork is about feeling not thinking so go with what you love! Start small if you have a specific budget, and build your collection over time.

Dining room design, McMillan Design, artwork select and display
Artist | Harvey Cassie; Wollstonecraft Project | McMillan Design

6. Perfect your placement

You’re finally ready to hang your gorgeous artwork, so one final step – placement!

It’s a critical step to ensure your beautiful new artwork can look its best. We very often see artwork hung too high!  You want to make sure your artwork is hung with the centre at eye level so it can be appreciated and feel connected to the rest of the room.

We recommend you bring in the experts to hang artwork.  I use them in my own home, and for our client installs, as they have the expertise to ensure the best placement and ensure the artwork is secure.

Living room design, artwork select and display
Artwork | Client’s own; Double Bay Project | McMillan Design

I hope you found our 6 designer tips helpful to select and display artwork that's perfect for your spaces!

Remember, artwork is so personal and impactful, so investing in something unique, and that you connect with, will ensure you will enjoy it for years to come!

Check out our previous blog post here where we share some of our favourite galleries.

Of course if you’re looking for some support with your home renovation, decoration project or artwork curation, then please get in touch with us!  You can click here to book a complimentary 20min Discovery Call, we’d love to chat about your project.


Anna x