Have you ever hung up a new piece of art you were so excited about, only to be left underwhelmed by the final product? More often than not, this has nothing to do with the art itself and everything to do with inadequate lighting. Creating beautiful, layered lighting that highlights your art can be tricky, but we’ve got a few tried and true tips that you can modify for any room!
Jenny learned in college that, including windows, a living room should have 7-10 light sources to be adequately lit! (We know, it sounds like a LOT.) In general, we don’t worry too much about the specific fixture count, as much as the goal, which should be optionality and LAYERS of light sources.
We’ve found the best way to accomplish this is through decorative lighting. A well-placed picture light can accentuate the texture of a canvas, while a fun, new floor lamp can add a layer of warmth to a room and your art.
Decorative lighting helps a space feel more put together and polished. It’s a great way to not only feature the art that is special to you, but also create an overall collected and cozy feel within your home.
Types of Decorative Lighting
One of our favorite ways to highlight art in a space is with picture lights. They add such a pretty design element to a room, and the soft glow they give off the wall can add so much to the ambiance. When it comes to picture lights, we always prefer something hardwired, but most of the time that’s going to be the hardest option to install.
If you’re not handy or don’t want to hire a professional electrician, then a battery-operated light is the way to go. There are so many good options online, they’re easy to install, and you’re still getting the upscale look of a hard-wired fixture. Plug-in picture lights can be a little trickier because you have to hide the cord, but there are some great budget-friendly options for these as well! We love the classic look of a wide brass picture lamp above an oversized print. They even look great above a Frame TV to highlight your favorite artwork while the TV isn’t in use!
Picture lights look sleek and intentional. They draw attention to the artwork whether the light is on or off. We have even mounted a small picture light to the top of an easel holding a smaller piece of art. Another option we love to play with is to use two smaller picture lights above a set of paintings. Choose two pieces of art you love and center a light over each piece.
Easel with picture light:
Some of our favorite artwork duos to display together from Juniper Prints are:
- Amber I and Amber II
- Botanical III and Botanical IV
- Dahlia I and Dahlia II
- Faithful Fields I and Faithful Fields II
While a picture light typically goes above a piece of art, sconces sit on either side of the artwork. We love to style sconces in a dining room nestled in among wainscotting, in a long hallway, or in a bedroom with the sconces replacing bedside lamps. They will accent your art, while also providing functional light where needed.
View even more of Jenny’s favorite sconces HERE.
Hanging Pendant Lights
While pendant lights might not be the first option you think of to highlight your art, they’re a really great option for many spaces in your home. If hanging pendants over a dining table or kitchen island, consider the height you’re hanging them, and how they will illuminate any surrounding art. We’re swooning over this pretty set up in @allisajacbos home. The smaller pendant lamps are just the right size to accent the beautiful art on a photo ledge next to the bed.
We also love them in a dining room like the example below:
When displaying smaller prints, or styling a console, a table lamp may be just what you need to complete your space. We believe you can never have enough lighting in a room. Table lamps add texture and warmth to a space, whether they’re on or not. We love the look of this gold lamp with our Oak Park print. We love to mix and match finishes when displaying our favorite artwork to add interest and give the feeling of a collection curated over time.
Floor lamps are a great option for sitting areas. Jenny’s evergreen living room features a tall wicker lamp next to the gallery wall and we love the texture it adds without detracting from the artwork. These can serve as reading lights as well - beauty and function in one!
While a chandelier won’t be solely dedicated to lighting the artwork in a room, it will still provide another layer of lighting and add variety to a space! They bring interest to a room, and help to draw the eye upwards in a room.
We also love this gorgeous bathroom chandelier and how it pulls in the gold from the frame in our Cursive II print.
What type of lighting is best for artwork?
After you select your light fixture, pay attention to the kind of light bulb you are using. Warm lights (or yellow lights) can make warm colors like reds and yellows appear more vibrant. They can also create a cozy atmosphere and work great in small spaces.
On the other hand, cool light bulbs (or white lights) can amplify the blues and greens in a print. Cool lights typically make a space feel more open. However, cool lights can also have a more sterile feel due to their usage in hospitals. Many people prefer warm white bulbs (around 3000 Kelvin) which fall in between warm and cool tones. These bulbs accurately represent the colors in the piece without leaning too much in one direction. To prevent fading, we also recommend avoiding direct sunlight on your artwork. View some of Jenny's favorite lights here.
Decorative Lighting Ideas to Display Your Artwork
Experimenting with different lighting techniques can be so fun and rewarding, and will help to bring your art out of the shadows. Creating these beautiful, layered spaces will change the look and feel of your home, and help your art to tell its own story. The investment of good lighting will pay off every single time!