Several days ago I had the opportunity to visit with some new homeowners, and amid lots of questions about a multitude of areas, one of the questions that kept coming up was about art.
“Can you offer some guidelines for buying art and using art at home? Is it supposed to match something, or can you just buy what you like? We look forward to your comments.”
Ah, art — appreciation of it is so very subjective. As many folks as there are on the planet, that’s how many opinions you will get about what is art, what is good art, what does good mean, and how to live with art.
And, as you know, there are also many forms of visual art; 2-D, 3-D, etc., as well as thousands of mediums. It’s no wonder people get so confused when trying to find art pieces for their homes.
I’m one of these people who believe there should be some relativity to the art and other things in your home. However, having said that, I also believe that if you have a certain style in your home, your choices of art will reflect that.
But then again, there is the oil painting from your Aunt Bettie; and the prized finger painting from your child; and your attempt at pottery. It’s all art, and it all needs to be displayed. What happens to that?
Let’s look at how some folks display their art. We’ll address hanging wall art in another column. That’s not an exact science, either, and gives a lot of people heartburn!
First, let’s look at your “personal art” like Aunt Bettie’s oil painting; your collection of butterfly images; your flat bowl you made at a pottery party. Because these are all personal to you, the ideal place to show them off is in your personal space.
I knew a lady who did, in fact, collect butterfly prints and images; and her husband collected something very different, something like fishing flies in shadow boxes.
They agreed these were not collectibles they wanted to display in their living room or other public spaces, and so they decided each would have their own wall in their bedroom, and each could address the wall any way they wanted. So they each hung their personal art on their own wall. This worked for them, and while it may not work exactly like this at your house, you get the idea.
Find your own little space. If you’re lucky enough to have your own dressing room or office, use that to your advantage.
Relative to “should art match something, or can you just buy something you like?” yes, and yes. Remember style: If you have a contemporary, sleek space, you will probably gravitate toward modern or contemporary art pieces. If you have a country home, serene landscapes or still life paintings may be your thing.
True art collectors often provide a very white or monochromatic background to show off their art. This usually includes white upholstery or at least fabrics with no patterns, and oftentimes, white walls. The space then takes on a gallery look and feel. Having this clean palette allows the owners to collect a wide variety of wall art, and none of it really clashes with the other.
If collecting art is not your thing, and you are just looking for something to decorate your walls, there are many options. Retail outlets offer a wide variety of already-framed, relatively inexpensive wall art to match any color scheme or design style.
And in this wonderful city we call home, there are so many galleries displaying art by our fabulous talented artists. Downtown in The Arts District there are quite a few and in several other areas also. Google your interests, and I think you will find plenty.
In art, as with any other aspect of decoration and design, the choices are many, and always remember, there are no design police. The key is to make your home your own by having it be a reflection of you.
Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural &Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.