Paintings make a house sing

So, you have finally finished furnishing your home and, although you have masteredthe synergy between components and paint, something seems amiss. It could be wall decorations such as paintings, portraits or wall mats.

Decor gurus say oil paintings are the bass to the song your house sings.

"Art doesn't come cheap. I suggest one is extra careful and waits until all the furniture and decor are in place before investing in oil paintings," says art dealer Michelle Sherrington.

"If you buy an oil painting and are a novice, you should look for a classic like Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Sekoto's The Song of The Pick or Vermeer's Girl With the Pearl Earring.

"But make sure you have a nice space for it because if your curtains are avante garde, your side lamps too fancy or your furniture boasts craftsmanship of indulgence, you will not find a decent space for that painting."

Classic paintings are hardly original unless you get them from the artists themselves, and most celebrated artists are dead. So most of their work has been reproduced to look very much like the original work.

These reproductions also come in different categories such as museum quality which is the highest quality of production and is found from either a museum or a private collector.

"These are virtually impossible to distinguish from the original. All the details have been painstakingly duplicated and only a trained eye can make a distinction between the original and its reproduction ," says Sherrington.

The second best is the gallery or Collectors level, considered the best investment for a reproduction.

The matching of elements such as paint tone and brush stroke are almost identical to the museum quality. Gallery or collector's level use only high-quality linen canvases and take weeks to create. They are found at galleries.

Lower on the scale is the retail, followed by commercial and automated, which chain stores still sell at very expensive rates.

Points to heed when choosing a painting:

l Understand that paintings don't come cheap, so do a lot of window shopping;

l If you don't understand what a painting depicts, don't bother buying it;

l Some paintings, especially classics, have a history behind them. It can be sad, but outstanding in its end result - as in the story behind The Girl With The Pearl Earring. The subject was artist Johannes Jan Vermeer's beautiful maid who had been subjected to his disloyalty and the abuse of his mentor, Rembrandt Van Rijn;

l It is cheaper to do your own framing;

l Understand the tone. For instance, Picasso's The Tragedy was painted during his three-year "blue period" when every painting had the same depressing tone;

l Place the painting in abundant light so its presence can reverberate throughout the room, day or night. Make sure the light is not directed straight onto the painting as this may result in early ageing;

l Buy paintings from local artists. These are brilliant with their explosive use of colour which injects a lot of positive energy wherever they are placed;

l The best places to buy paintings are the galleries of course, but it you want to negotiate prices, go to the flea markets;

l Don't ask a street painter to paint you a replica. Most cannot or do not have the right material to pull off a classic. Rather buy their original work.