When do you retire your art or how do you know when you should buy new?

“When should I get rid of this piece of art I’ve had forever? What if I’m not sure I like it anymore? What do I do if it doesn’t go with the new style I want?”

Does this sound like you?

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and she asked me questions like these. Like a pair of pants that no longer fits right, artwork can do the same thing over time. You grow out of them or they fall apart or they just feel out of style. I am going to give you 5 tips on what you should look for to know when it’s okay to move on…

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

1. Do you still like it? 

Is this piece you love looking at? That’s the first question you should always ask yourself. Artwork should bring you joy and should make you want to look at it for hours. If your art doesn’t do this, consider looking for a replacement. 

2. Is it faded or starting to show age? 

Just like a sweater you have loved for years but has moth holes in it, or a shirt with arm pit stains, artwork shouldn’t be “sad looking”. If it’s a print that is yellowing or has started to tear at the edges, it needs to go. And just like a piece of clothing that you may say “But it still works! And I wear it all the time!”, it doesn’t mean that’s okay to still have it up on the wall. If it’s paper, maybe you can repurpose it. You could use it as the bottom of a tray as display, or cut it up to make ornaments or cut it up into smaller vignettes to put into picture frames. Get creative! If it’s not a print, you might be able to find another artist to restore it. I know that the edges of certain pieces can get damaged over time. Usually another artist who works with the same medium can help you restore those parts of the canvas- or at least make it look better than what it did.

3. Does it fit the style you have or want to have?

I know that some artwork has a lot of value (“This was expensive!”) or someone important gave it to you. However, unless you really feel the need to have it up, it’s okay to switch it out. Your house should reflect your current style and what you like to look at. It’s okay that the Thomas Kinkade print that was once your favorite isn’t your style anymore. 

4. Does it have a home?

According the the 2007 Census, the average person moves at least 11 times in their lifetime. That’s a lot of times to rearrange artwork and figure out a home for everything! If you have just moved and you have a bunch of artwork that you don’t have an attachment to and you don’t have a place to hang it or display it, it’s time to let it go. I’m all about purging artwork when it doesn’t mean anything and it was just filler to begin with.

5. Is it special or have a sentimental value?

This is the trickiest category because it’s personal. The needlepoints from great grandma and the porcelain statues from great aunts are hard to part with. Or it could be artwork from your child who has grown up and moved away. If you aren’t comfortable parting with a piece here are some ideas:

  • Is there anyone else who would love this piece? Does your son/daughter want the childhood art? Would your sister or cousin love the needlepoint? If someone else would get lots of joy out of it, pass it on!
  • Take a picture of it. I think that pictures are a lot easier to duplicate and keep than an piece of art. Plus, you can always make copies to give to others if someone else would like to remember it as well. After documenting it, you would be able to part with it. 
  • Store it. If you really want to hang on to it, just pack it up with bubble wrap and make sure it won’t be exposed to heat or bugs. Even though it takes up space, sometimes art is just too precious to part with and you feel compelled to keep it. And that’s okay :)


What can you do with artwork you don’t want any more?

  1. Sell/Consign it- go ahead and give your new art fund a starting point. By selling it or consigning it, you’ll be able to start preparing for an art piece that you might not know you need till you see it!
  2. Give it away or gift it- If you have a friend or family member who always mentions how much they love a certain piece, they are a perfect candidate. I’m all about giving artwork to people who love it-  Who wouldn’t want the gift of art?!


Artwork usually has a story. So knowing when to part with it can be tricky. These 5 tips should help guide you to the best decision about what to do with the poster of mountains you’ve had above your sofa for decades but don’t know what to do with now.  


Is getting rid of artwork hard for you? What type of artwork do you love but haven’t gotten because older artwork is taking up all the wall space?