Art is in the eye of the beholder, and some people do not see beauty where others do. Art should challenge you and make you look at the room it’s in differently, as well as the scheme that it forms part of. Art informs the mood. You can tell a lot about somebody by the books they read, if they have a library, and you can do the same by looking at the paintings on their walls. What story do you want to tell in your space? What identity do you want to project? And when you look at the space, does it make you happy?

The interaction between the red flowers on the table and the painting really brings this room to life!

Art makes a room

The subjectivity of art actually makes a room. It is a matter of well-considered appropriateness. Imagine the beautiful Robert Adam library at Kenwood House, in Hampstead, London. If you took all the books out, it would still be a room, but it would not be the same environment. Art makes a room come to life and gives it interest. Nowadays, guests like to walk around a home and look at the art and comment on it and ask questions about it. Where did you get it? What’s it about? Who painted it? What does it mean?
Art can set the theme for a room and either makes or breaks it. So, you wouldn’t want to put a brightly coloured painting in a bedroom, for example. Interior designers work by layering textures, fabrics, patterns, and you can create the mood for a room from the colours. You need to fit your art to your brief. But there are limits! A famous London 5* hotel once wanted to put one of my works in a suite and asked me to cover it with a pink wash because it was for the feminine bedroom scheme. I refused!
The scheme can come from the art or the art can come from the scheme, but either way they need to interact. The art and the scheme have to marry each other in a sympathetic way. And art can change the focal points of rooms: do you want the focus to be the fireplace or a full-on painting? Designers can put off deciding about the art in a room, so that what goes on the walls becomes the last thing to consider. This is unwise.

Guiding principles

The principles for art in the home are:

  1. Love it.
  2. Take great care where you hang it (don’t put an amazing painting in the lobby or hall), and
  3. Hang it at the right height. The horizon line should be at average height eye level.


The principles for choosing corporate art are:

  1. Fit it to the mood of the corporate image,
  2. Make the right impact with size and scale, and
  3. Don’t be psychologically intrusive.
Castle 9: Mustard Yellow and Grey, by Rupert Dixon (commission)

My abstract geometric style

My new contemporary geometric style is based on historic building architectural floorplans and works well anywhere. It can be commissioned to fit into the latest, bang-on-trend colour schemes. In a classic gilt frame, it goes straight back to the mid-Century, but in a box frame it’s ultra-modern. I like to be involved and, as a trained colour consultant who also used to work in very high end interior design, help my clients make a decision that’s going to work for them.


Always1 (in a classic gilt frame)

Don’t put a tiny little painting above a mantelpiece, as I saw done recently, and always remember that a painting should bring the room to life. Nowadays, more and more people are fascinated by art, and the art market has moved on tenfold in the last couple of decades. Art is a force to be reckoned with by interior designers. For me the scheme of the room is like building a theatrical set, and the right pieces of art create the backdrop and influence everything.

Rupert Dixon is a London-based artist with a passion for interior spaces.