Artwork selection / Dining room / interior decoration / Wall art

Makeover: picking out paint colors and artwork for a small room

To dive further into the topic of picking out artwork, this week I’m going to share with you a project proposal that I prepared for a small restaurant. Though it’s a commercial space instead of a home, the same principles apply. The restaurant’s interior space is narrow and small, with low ceilings and little natural light. It’s currently painted a warm, textured orange-yellow and decorated with a variety of artworks the owner has collected. He clearly defined the scope of the project: fresh paint and some new artwork and accesories.

Photo of small restaurant dining room before renovation.

Small restaurant dining room before makeover.

As they only open for breakfast and lunch, I recommended that it be painted predominately in lighter colors to bring in more reflected light and create a more spacious feeling. Walls and ceilings will be the same off-white color to unify the many corners. A chocolate-colored accent-wall at the end of the long, narrow space will make it optically shorter and more inviting. To create a sense of freshness and cheer, other accents such as tablecloths will be lime-green, which contrasts nicely with the chocolate-colored accent wall.

The owner asked me for a proposal of an artwork for the wall shown. Since the restaurant is named “Triptic”, I recommended something in triptych format to subtly convey the concept in the interior of the restaurant. My first idea was to do a trio of blurry photographs related to jazz music, as that was one of the inspirations for the name of the restaurant.

Photo of room with music triptych

A triptych of music-themed photographs, in a toned black and white.

Once I saw this series of photographs in the mock-up I created of the room with the new color scheme, I didn’t find it quite convincing. Why? I think the colors are too subdued and the images don’t help to create the sensation of more space that we’re looking for. So I started at square one again, thinking of new ideas. Since the restaurant is proud of the carefully seleccted choice of wines it offers, I came up with two concepts related to that. Both more clearly communicate as a triptych. Since this wine cellar image has a receding passageway, it creates a sense of depth.

wine cellar triptych photographs

Mock-up of wine cellar triptych

And this one with a triptych image of a vineyard, in addition to creating sense of space, simulates a set of windows in an interior space without windows. Plus, the green leaves already start bringing contrast color into the room before even changing the tablecloths. This one is my favorite. What do you think?

Vineyard photographs triptych

Mock-up of vineyard triptych in room

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8 thoughts on “Makeover: picking out paint colors and artwork for a small room

  1. I agree with you. The third version looks perfect. Very inviting and fresh, considering breakfast and lunchtime.

  2. I haven’t found a restaurant owner yet that wanted to buy fine art work. They only let you show your art work and claim they will help you sell it and help you get your name and work in front of the public. But in the end, they only want to use your work for free decoration in their restaurant. Name recognition and exposure is fine but emerging struggling artists need to sell work. We are usually broke. Seasoned artists will not allow you to decorate with their art work for free. The restaurant owners in my area will not even rent your work. They are too cheap.
    I suggest they shop at Walmart for their art. That seems to be the level of sophistication they have attained and it is cheap. Yes, I am bitter but after 13 years of trying to get exposure in restaurants and not one sale to show for it while the restaurant owner makes a lot of money in his “cool” place using my work to give the appearance that they are sophisticated. In every case, I came away from the experience with the feeling that I was duped with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach…….and still broke.

  3. The outdoor shots of the Vineyard are lovely all on their own (I have some shots very similar, in fact, that I love too) but I think for the space and function, the wine cellar and barrels are warmer and gives more depth to that corner space. I might do away with tablecloths (if an option) and warm up this space further, maybe introducing a lime tinted yellow, somewhat golden citron, the color of champagne white grapes (as in Wine, another connection with your theme) maybe painted on the table tops or do the chairs that color (or perhaps seat cushions)? It’s still Green in another way, just more yellow to keep the warmth headed in the direction of the woods of the barrels; and (going for broke here) then if it’s in the budget, add braided wood windowsill planters (Lowes carries some) around the room sparingly at chair rail height-include echoed light toned colors in silk flowers for softening and texture. A breath of a grapevine trailing from each, but only a touch in among some good accents {melon, red grapefruit, and of course leaves in the green kingdom too. I see lime green sweet potato vine leaves in my mind).
    It’s funny, this description {suggestion} just pulled everything out of the vineyard Images of the 2nd triptych pictures, putting those into textured features rather than just on the canvases. So when it comes down to it, for less effort and $, the use of the Vineyard works well! But those wine barrels still appeal to me, especially greater depth in a smaller room coming to a corner with no windows.
    OK, a note: It must be my monitor because I see the chocolate paint as a putty rose sort of color and off-white as very pale pink; the wood chairs look dark burgundy—-but in any event, stay mostly lighter with the right shades to match if one were to go with the potential planters :)? Pamela (FAA)

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