From posters and prints to frames and fine art: eight ways to bring art into your home | In my element

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If your walls could speak, what would they say about you? Would they tell stories of paintings older than your ancestors? Or perhaps, your love for young designers and creatives. Maybe they don’t say much at all, meaning you’re in need of a little help in the artwork department.

As an interior stylist and writer, I’m often asked for tips on how to curate artwork, and to share my top places to buy it.

I view my artwork as a representation of my personality and the things I’ve done in my life. From the slightly crumpled exhibition posters that I’ve clutched through airports, to originals that I’ve spent years saving for, I see different people, places and my own growth in just one wall.

Of course, there are various ways to build your own collection, from visiting art fairs to seeking out galleries. But eBay is somewhere I’ve always hit up for unique secondhand collectables, and recently I’ve discovered the multitude of upcoming artists selling on the site too.

Mix and match different mediums for an eclectic look. Photograph: Deborah Castle

“We have a huge breadth of artists selling their original paintings and prints,” says Amy Kent, senior category manager for art & antiques at eBay. “Not only artists who come from established art schools, but what I call ‘hobbyist artists’ – those who have a small business selling art alongside their day job.”

So where do you start with getting art you love from the shop or screen to your sitting room wall? Here’s how to put together an at-home gallery that’s exhibition worthy …

Gather inspiration
If you’re not quite sure of where to begin with art in your home, get those creative juices flowing by gathering some ideas. Online sites are awash with design inspiration, and once you’ve plucked out some images you adore, you can really hone in on your artistic style.

Are you drawn to gallery walls? Do large-format pieces make your heart beat that little bit faster? Take note of the colours that excite you, the mediums that draw you in – the ones that you can imagine in your own home. It’s not about directly copying these sources of inspiration, but instead singling out the characteristics that bring you joy.

Choose a starting point
As with most households, it’s likely that you already own a few pieces of art. You may have inherited some from relatives, picked up a piece from an exhibition, or just bought prints over the years, vowing to “hang them in your forever home”. These pieces will help inform what’s missing from your home, as well as the styles you’re already drawn to.

“Curating a beautiful and interesting collection of art doesn’t have to cost lots of money,” says Lisa Dawson, interiors writer and author of Resourceful Living. “The idea is to hang what you love, and that can include anything that catches your eye: a vintage oil painting from the charity shop, a limited-edition print, an old family photograph or even a cinema ticket from a first date.”

If you’re starting from scratch, Kent advises making use of eBay’s Art Hub. “It will help you to determine what type of art you want on your walls – paintings, prints, posters, canvas, drawings. You’ll have access to a huge inventory, whether from small businesses with their own eBay shops or customers selling directly from their homes.”

Back view of unrecognizable female designer hanging picture with abstract ornament on painted wall while working on creative interior design of modern apartment
Make sure to measure up and visualise art on the wall. Photograph: Alina Hvostikova/Stocksy United

Measure up
While I wish hanging artwork was as easy as some online videos may have you think, it does require some precision and a measuring tape to hand – no clicking of fingers here, I’m afraid. You’ll need to know the measurements of the walls you’re looking to fill, and shop accordingly.

I recommend visualising a piece on your wall by either using low-adhesive masking tape to mark out the size of the artwork, or by hanging coloured pieces of paper. This trick works particularly well for mapping out gallery walls – where you’re hanging several pieces – before you let loose with your tools.

Mix and match mediums
A common faux pas of gallery walls is to hang works in the same style and colour palette. While this can look striking in some instances, you need to be aware of the space and what you’re trying to say with it.

“The juxtaposition of the different styles of artwork is what draws the eye and creates a focal point,” says Dawson. “Create your own art by framing maps depicting your favourite places, postcards that you’ve collected, a drawing by your child or perhaps a tea towel that is too pretty not to display.”

These mementoes and collectables can be tied in with prints and paintings for an eclectic look, which works for every interior style. And for period pieces: “We’ve found that the market for English 19th- and early 20th-century paintings and for portraiture, as well as British and French impressionist paintings, is consistently strong,” says Kent. “Some of these pieces are museum-quality – take a look at Leighton Fine Art.”

Seek out emerging artists
Art is often classified as a way to invest, and keeping your eye on emerging artists is the best way to discover pieces that have the potential to rise in both popularity and price. Kent recommends taking a look at the work of Vivek Mandalia, who she “adores for his bold brushwork and prominent themes around beauty and nature”, and Melanie Maynard, who “allows anyone to own an original piece of art through her economical prices”. Jennifer Day, best known for her atmospheric abstract acrylic paintings, is also on Kent’s hitlist. Give them a follow on eBay to keep them on your radar and stay up to date with new work.

04 Think outside the print - Interior content creator Bianca Hall demonstrates the look perfectly in her own home, where she’s used a pink painted square to frame a grid of prints by Stella Vine. “This visually unites them, just as using a tray on a coffee table to corral smaller items does, making them less chaotic and making much more of a statement.”
A block of colour behind artworks gives the appearance of a larger piece. Photograph: Bianca Hall

Don’t forget about framing
Framing often seems just as intimidating as buying the artwork itself, especially given the costs of some professional framers. While this might be a necessary requirement for some original pieces to ensure longevity, you can source vintage frames easily online – or pick up entire artworks that can be repurposed. “Don’t worry about mixing up the frames too much,” says Dawson. “Alternating different types of surround makes each item stand out in its own space.”

Exhibitions are a great opportunity to search for ideas on how to configure a wall, and you’ll often find some of the boldest looks there. A trip to the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition in central London will have your brain whirring with concepts. Once again, try the masking tape or the tried-and-tested paper method to see if your envisioned layouts work.

Think outside the print
While stark white walls are predominant in gallery settings, there’s opportunity to get playful within your own four walls. One of my favourite ways to allow artwork to pop is to paint a block of colour behind it, giving the illusion of a bigger piece.

Interior content creator Bianca Hall demonstrates the look perfectly in her own home, where she’s used a pink painted square to frame a grid of prints by Stella Vine. “This visually unites them, just as using a tray on a coffee table to corral smaller items does, making them less chaotic and making much more of a statement.”

You do you
Sourcing artwork is meant to be an enjoyable process; you should be able to look at your walls and see yourself reflected back. Get creative with the process and don’t try to copy anyone else’s style. Art is meant to be personal; it’s your home and if you want to paint your own frames, upcycle a piece of vintage artwork, or style up a grid of family photos, that’s your prerogative. Rules are meant to be broken when it comes to art – that’s the beauty of it.

Emma’s eBay art edit

Some of these items are being sold by auction so listings may end at any time. If you love a piece that’s gone, search for something similar from these sellers:

jennifer day

An abstract canvas from jenniferdayart – this affordable original will add a pop of colour to the wall while also bringing an extra element of depth and dimension thanks to the layers of paint strokes

vivek painting

A pink roses impressionist oil painting from vivek.contemporary – flowers that will always stay fresh. This oil painting will add a traditional touch, but has its own contemporary spin.

elliotminor painting

Contemporary strokes by emerging artists elliotminorart – exploring colour themes, textures, materiality and the process of painting. This framed piece will tick all the boxes for colour, pattern and texture.

mjm-arts watercolour

A figurative watercolour by mjm-arts – changing up the medium and sizing of your artwork helps to add depth to a space. This A5 original is extremely well priced.


A signed colourful gouache by Manja Wang via leightonfinearts. Completely unique and will make a statement on the wall.

Unique interiors at eBay
Find artistic pieces that reflect your style – from original oils to modern prints. Shop Art on eBay

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