Home Decor

How To Rent Artwork For Your Home

An inexpensive way to bring a piece of an art gallery into your living space.

Nicole Katsuras, Picnic for Two; Jean Paul Langlois; Claire Desjardins, SoC; Claire Desjardins, Light on my Toes; Gun Roze, 28 -Fifth Avenue (ed. of 5); Mary-Jean Butler; Gabryel Harrison

First row (left to right): Nicole Katsuras, Picnic for Two; Jean Paul Langlois; Claire Desjardins, SoCal 06
Second row: Claire Desjardins, Light on my Toes; Gun Roze, 28 -Fifth Avenue (ed. of 5); Mary-Jean Butler; Gabryel Harrison

There’s nothing like original artwork to add to your home’s atmosphere, especially when you’re stuck there. But art is expensive—so rent some! It’s a fun way to try out a new look without the price or pressure of a long-term commitment. Here’s how to do it.

Ask an expert

Many art-rental programs offer virtual consultations: You send in a description of your style and pictures of your space, and experts offer personalized options. At the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), coordinator Claire Kyle and the art rental and sales team curate a digital portfolio after clients fill out a questionnaire.

Jean Paul Langlois, Acrylic on Canvas

Jean Paul Langlois, Acrylic on Canvas, 30″ x 24″, Purchase: $880 Rent: $25/month

Remember that you don’t live in a gallery

Six-foot-tall paintings look amazing at the AGO but might not work as well in your condo. Sizing depends on whether you want something bold or just a little accent. Kyle says that, as a general rule, wall art should take up 60 to 75 percent of available wall space that isn’t covered by furniture or mouldings.

Gun Roze, 28 -Fifth Avenue (ed. of 5), 35mm Colour, Negative

Gun Roze, 28 -Fifth Avenue (ed. of 5), 35mm Colour, Negative, 40″x 30″, Rent: $150.00/month

Consider the lighting

If there’s a wall in your home with good lighting, that’s a prime spot for displaying art. Just be mindful to not hang pieces in direct sunlight, as this can deteriorate and fade the artwork over time, says Zoe Mackoff de Miranda from the art rental and sales program operated by the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG).

Claire Desjardins, SoCal 06, acrylic on panel

Claire Desjardins, SoCal 06, acrylic on panel, 24”x 18”, Rent: $44.00/month

Go with your gut

If a piece speaks to you, listen. “Finding a space for an artwork is sometimes secondary, and going with an artwork that you are really drawn to is a good way to start,” says Kyle. When browsing through options, try a process of elimination, weeding out what you definitely don’t want.

Nicole Katsuras, Picnic for Two, oil on canvas

Nicole Katsuras, Picnic for Two, oil on canvas, 48”x 60”, Rent: $300.00/month

Switch it up again

Renting allows you to experiment with what you like and what works in your space. The whole point is to try something new, so you can’t really make a mistake, and Mackoff de Miranda says clients often swap out pieces seasonally. That said, if you fall in love and decide to buy, programs will often credit a certain amount of the rental fee (which is a percentage of the purchase price) toward making it part of your permanent collection.

Rental collections are separate from main-gallery ones. VAG art rental and sales, available in B.C., minimum one month, vanartgallery.bc.ca/art-rental-and-sales. AGO art rental and sales, available throughout Canada, minimum three months, ago.ca/shop/art-rental-sales.