Your ranch house is more than just a place to call home; it's a canvas for your personal style and a reflection of your unique taste. For Western folks, it's also often a reflection of our passions and unique lifestyles. In the quest to choose art for your house, there's also a really cool opportunity to pay homage to the Western tradition we know and love. Our timeless and rugged heritage holds a unique allure that transcends time. Whether you're a rancher, an enthusiast of Western aesthetics, or someone looking to capture the spirit of the American West in their home, embracing the Western style in your art selection can infuse your home with a captivating charm.
In my opinion, one of the most exciting and important considerations for Western decor is choosing the right art for your walls. As a Western artist, I often get asked how to choose art or decide what to commission when a client has a particular room in mind. This guide is here to help you with commissioning or selecting the perfect artwork for your ranch house.
1. Know Your House’s Style
One of the first things to keep in mind is the style of the house itself. Ranch houses, like Western folks, come in a lot of varieties. Does your house have a distinct architectural and interior design style? Are there regional influences? What materials and textures (wood, brick, etc.) stand out in your home? Beyond the style of the house itself, you also want to be aware of your own style. Do you lean toward a traditional, modern, rustic, or eclectic style? Whatever your style, the art you choose should complement it. Here’s a brief overview of styles and common art selections for each.
Traditional Ranch House:
For a traditional house consider classic landscape paintings, traditional Western-themed art, or vintage photographs. Even traditional styles can utilize more contemporary works of art. Colorful works with strong compositions on traditional Western themes, and add a pop of color and create variety while honoring the traditional aspects of your style. For a traditional style house, you can still go very contemporary with your art selection, if that is what appeals to you. The juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary can create a bold and eye-catching style!
Modern Ranch House:
For a more contemporary house with clean lines and minimalistic design elements, opt for art with strong simple compositions, contemporary sculptures, or photos with a modern, cowgirl-style flair. Typically with more modern designs you want to give each work of art space to stand alone. You may want to consider going really big with your art (as long as you have the space, of course). Don’t crowd too many pieces together. Purchase bold art that makes a statement and then let it have room to speak for itself.
Rustic Ranch House:
If your house has a rustic, country-inspired design, you may consider adding some folk art, woodcarvings, or wildlife-themed pieces that blend seamlessly with the rustic ambiance. Forest and mountain-themed art is also popular with rustic decor. Make sure to keep framing in mind. Old barnwood frames can be great for rustic decor as long as the frame isn’t competing with a barnwood wall.
Eclectic Ranch House:
If your home showcases a diverse blend of styles and influences, you have more creative license to explore a broad spectrum of art styles and media, spanning from mixed-media artworks to unconventional sculptures, and more. Bring in lots of bright colors, and textures, and let classic and contemporary works mingle. When going with a more eclectic style, you can put more works closer together. Just pay attention to the way all the pieces play on each other, you still want everything to flow and feel like it fits.
2. Collecting Work from an Artist
Collecting art from an artist you love is so much fun, and you are directly supporting that artist's business and enabling them to create more wonderful work- and, unlike art big box stores, your art collection can become more valuable! You have a few options for collecting work from an artist, each with different benefits.
First, you can purchase already created work from the artist, a gallery, or an exhibition. When you purchase existing work, you typically don’t have to wait long to take it home or have it shipped. You also get the benefit of seeing it already complete.
Second, you can purchase fine art reproductions. These are typically ready to take home or ship in a few days as well and can accommodate a lower budget. Get tips on collecting fine art reproduction here.
Third, you can commission an artist to create something specifically for you. An artist can use a photo(s) of your own animals, family, etc. to create a work that is a direct reflection of your life and what you love. Many artists shy away from commissions, but I love doing commissions. It is such an honor to create something extra special for a collector. Another benefit of a commission is that the work can be created with a specific space in mind!
Also read- Contemporary Western Art: Exploring the Fusion of Tradition and Innovation
3. Consider Color
Color is a major consideration for what art to put in your house and where to put it. The color of your wall can clash with a painting, or even drain it of its color. Ensure that the work you purchase compliments the room you plan to put it in. For example, you can purchase a painting that brings in existing colors from the room, or bring in a bright painting to brighten up a dark room. (You still need adequate lighting.) Color play can be complex, so when in doubt you can always reach out to the artist for help or advice. Don’t forget you can also add or switch out frames to help a piece fit the room better.
4. Showcase Local Landscapes
One of the most unique aspects of living in a ranch house is its spacious natural surroundings. Whether you're nestled in the rolling hills, surrounded by vast meadows, or situated near a mountain range, your art can reflect the beauty of your ranch's environment. Explore options such as landscape paintings, photographs capturing local scenery, or artwork featuring the native flora and fauna of your region. Choosing work that celebrates local elements further grounds your home in its surroundings.
5. Scale and Proportion
When selecting art for your ranch house, it's important to consider the size of the space you plan to display it. Large, open living areas often call for larger artworks or statement pieces that can fill the space and become focal points. In contrast, smaller, more intimate spaces may benefit from smaller art pieces or curated gallery walls. If you have a huge wall, don’t be surprised if a piece you thought was large seems much smaller. This is a great time to consider commissioning a piece directly from an artist so you can go extra large and get something that really makes an impact.
6. Choose Art That Resonates With You
Ultimately, the art you select for your house should resonate with you on a personal level. Art is a form of self-expression, and your home should reflect your individual tastes and interests. Don't feel pressured to conform to a specific style or trend; choose pieces that speak to you and evoke emotions. As Marie Kondo advises, ask yourself, “Does this spark joy.”
Also read - 5 Top Tips for Getting a Good Photo for Art Reference
7. Mix Styles and Mediums
While Western art is a natural fit for a home, don't be afraid to mix styles and mediums to add depth and interest to your decor. Consider incorporating contemporary art pieces, sculptures, or even rustic, handcrafted artworks to create a balanced and eclectic look. The key is to find a harmonious blend that resonates with your personal taste and complements your home’s overall style. Don’t forget about bringing in a variety of textures through textiles as well.
8. Showcase with Lighting
Show your art collection in its best light…well, by investing in well-thought-out lighting solutions, such as track lighting or picture lights, to effectively showcase your prized pieces. The right lighting can work magic, altering the perception and impact of your art.
With good lighting, you ensure that your carefully curated art collection takes center stage and commands the attention it truly deserves.
Also read- 6 Things To Demystify Fine Art Reproductions
9. Seek Professional Advice
If you're unsure about where to start or need guidance on selecting the right art for your home consider consulting with an interior designer who specializes in Western or rustic decor. They can help you navigate the world of art and make informed choices that align with your vision. If you want to purchase from a specific artist, you can always reach out to the artist for guidance. Most artists are excited to share their thoughts and expertise to make sure you get a piece that is just right.
10. A Special Note on Commissions
Commissions are an awesome way for you to get something made just for you. Commissions can be very special because they can feature your family, animals, land, etc. Working with an artist for a commission can be a lot of fun. You get to share your ideas and watch the artist's interpretation of them come to life. You don’t even have to have an idea! I’ve had clients email me about a specific space in their house and ask me to create something for the space, rather than painting from a photo(s) they provide.
When commissioning a work of art, ensure that you and the artist have a contract that clearly lays out all the details of the process, payments, and what to expect. This protects both you and the artist. You should not proceed without having a good contract in place.
If you are asking the artist to create something based on your photo(s) always try to provide the artist with clear, well-lit, high-quality images. While this may not be possible sometimes, it makes a huge difference in the artist's ability to accurately portray your special subject.
A Few Bonus Tips
Your ranch house is not just a place to live; it's a canvas for your individuality and a testament to the richness of Western living. In this guide, we've explored tips for selecting the perfect artwork for your home. Whether you opt for classic Western themes, contemporary pieces, or an eclectic blend of styles, the key is to choose art that speaks to you on a personal level. Trust your instincts, seek professional advice when needed, and create your dream home, with a well-curated selection of Western art.
Remember that the choices you make will not only enhance your home's aesthetics but also imbue it with the rich legacy of Western elegance. Your house is more than just a house; it's an expression of your passion, a tribute to tradition, and a reflection of the beauty that surrounds you.