How to Choose the Right Wall Color to Showcase Your Art Collection

You don’t buy or create art in order to hide it away. When a piece speaks to you, putting it on display so you can continually enjoy the visual beauty, sensations, and emotions it evokes is only proper. By carefully considering the background color of walls in your home, you can more easily draw attention to one or more pieces in order to showcase and enhance its qualities.




Gallery walls have traditionally been painted in neutrals—most often whites or off-whites. But while some museums are choosing to switch things up in order to better present particular art styles and eras, a neutral background is still a great way to showcase a private collection at home.

Neutral colors do not show up on a color wheel, so they do not interfere or clash with other colors. White, black, and gray (along with all their gradations) are neutrals. We also think of light browns, beige, or taupe as neutrals.

When you have many different types of artwork—paintings, drawings, photographs, collages, etc.—a neutral wall color can provide a uniform background that unites many artwork colors, styles, and genres. In contrast, pieces that are themselves in neutral colors (a series of black and white photographs, for instance) could look boring and unassuming against a neutral backdrop.


Matching Colors to the Piece(s)


Focal pieces or a collection of similar pieces (a series of related pieces by one artist, for instance) stand out against a wall color that has been pulled from the piece itself. Select one of the colors from the piece and use it on the walls.

A variation of matching the wall color to one of the colors in a piece is to use a shade or tint of that color (a shade is a color with a bit of black added, and a tint is a color with a bit of white added: think of the strips of colors on sample paint chips).


Complementary Colors


Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel, and the use of a complementary backdrop creates a striking juxtaposition that serves to draw the eye to a colorful piece. As an example, a painting with a great deal of orange in it will pop against a wall painted a soft blue.


Historical Colors


When displaying pieces from a particular era, many museums are turning to background colors that were common from that era. You can use this idea in your own home. If the color you choose would be overwhelming if applied to all walls, consider using it only on focal walls.

If you plan to rotate your collection frequently, you might choose to keep walls fairly neutral and confine brighter colors to a few focal walls throughout your space. When you rotate pieces out of your current display, be sure to store them correctly for optimal preservation. Museo Vault offers top-quality fine art storage facilities and other services in Southern Florida. Visit our Homepage for more information.