The first thing many guys look for from their “art” is whether or not it preforms a function . Guys are generally black and white and don’t want to spend money on something that doesn’t accomplish a goal. So when a guy buys something to mount on the wall, there should be a certain consideration as to whether he can take it down and use it to make his life easier occasionally. Functional art is usually just something a guy uses occasionally that found itself a convientent mounting bracket on a wall behind a couch.
A little much, but I like where your head’s at.
The key is to stop thinking of art as simply pictures on a wall. Art is about expression, and every item you own has something to say. (Warning, I will continue to sound cheesy throughout this entire paragraph.) This type of art is not usually functional in any way other then sending a message to guests about your personality. Begin thinking about everything as art. (Wow, I officially upset someones lactose-intolerance with the cheesy-ness there. I owe you a roll of Charmin) There are plenty of functional things that have artistic touches. Things like wine racks or light fixtures both serve an explicit purpose and give you an artistic touch. Pick things that you will not only use but match the image you are trying to create.
The most obvious example of functional art is a clock. This may not sound like “art” to you at first, but with all the different styles they come in, a clock gives you a forum for self expression. They can highlight a passion of yours, show that you are minimalist or modern, and can even tell people that you like old world styling. They make clocks for sports teams*, comic book heroes and even some bands. If you cannot find a clock that matches your passions and decor, you can even create you own with almost whatever you want by transplanting a clock motor onto many items fairly easily.
You can look to actually use shelving to make almost anything into art. Consider mounting shelves and possibly using them as your home bar. This can be just a collection of liquor bottles and nice glasses on a shelf, or it can be a wall mounted cabinet. I would suggest putting them in various decanters with a few different liquors in it. (I suggest a single malt scotch, a whiskey or bourbon, a vodka and a gin) The best place to find them is in in antique shops, where you can possibly find a crystal decanter for around $25 each compared to their usual $300.
If you choose to go this route, I would suggest using Two different size floating glass shelves. Use this 24″x8″ for the upper shelves (Bottles, mixing tools, etc)and this 24″x12″ for the mixing area. This will not take up as much of the floor space as an actual bar and will give you the ability to really show off you fine drinking habits. I would also suggest mounting an art light similar to the Rite-Lite 8 LED Wireless Art Light will also help show it off and will make it a focal point on your wall.
The next option for functional artwork is a fireplace. Many houses do not have an actual fireplace, and even if they do they are not normally in every room. It is easy to get a fireplace in any room now thanks to gel fuel. Gel fuel is usually sold in cans and do not emit any soot or fumes due to their alcohol based formula. This means you no longer need a vent or chimney to have a fireplace in your house. The fuel can get expensive, $70 dollars for 16 cans, each lasting 2-3 hours. However, this will actually heat your home while you have them on with a heat rating of about 3000 BTU/h per can.
These fireplaces come in many sizes and styles, however the two I found that I really like at an attractive price is this Oil Rubbed Bronze Jel / Gel Fuel Wall Mount Fireplace for $80 or this Black Gel Fueled Fireplace for $170 .
Both of these fireplaces hold three cans of fuel and do not require any ventilation. You can burn either one, tow or three depending on how much heat you want and how much you want to spend. These are an easy way to create the romantic atmosphere a fire provides without having to rip out a chunk of the wall and build a venting system for it. These can go on any wall.
Mounting Sporting equipment is another idea you may want to consider. Wall racks for baseball bats, rifles or fishing poles could give you a really manly feel to a room. Do not hide you passions. the only issue I might want you to consider keeping it toned down to some degree. Going overboard here can make you appear to be a one dimensional person. The key to this, as with everything, is subtlety.
* I picked the Knicks clock because I am a big Knicks fan.**
**Yes, it is possible I am a masochist on some level. Thanks for asking.