When we moved from our last house and the buyer wanted to leave it furnished, I had one condition – my art comes with me. Over the past five years I have worked hard at curating my art collection and I feel like I am finally getting to a place that there’s a piece that makes me smile around every corner.
Some areas hold a theme, or a similar color, others are just pieces I have eyed for quite some time. But I feel that art is an area of home decor that is extremely personal and can be overwhelming because of the options. What speaks to me will not speak to everyone and vice versa, however there are some tips that I can share that will apply to everyone looking to start or grow their collection, regardless of taste.
First, take your time. This is one of my tips for most trying to decorate a space – always take your time. It’s when you’re in a rush because you’re hosting or your in-laws are coming into town that you go out and buy the first thing you see to throw on the wall. Art takes some staring and thinking. Then a little more staring. Make sure you love it and will think about it if you were to walk away from the piece for a minute.
Don’t just buy what everyone else is buying. Just because four of your friends have the same artist in their homes doesn’t mean that you need it too. Again, art is personal. Don’t purchase what you will end up seeing at every single dinner party. And hopefully this goes without saying, but please don’t go to a big box store to buy art. Leave that for a doctor’s office.
Next, figure out what you like. Start by looking around at the colors in your home, and those tones will more than likely reflect in your art. If your home is full of neutrals I don’t foresee a florescent pink piece hanging on your wall anytime soon. Pops of color can be great, but don’t get too crazy or it will be the only thing you see and drown out the rest of your home. While there isn’t any orange in my house as far as furniture or accents, it’s often reflected in my art and I love that it’s a theme throughout.
If there is a piece that I love, I’ll often style the space around it with the piece in mind first. For example, I had the Uzo Art piece for my closet long before I had Carrie Beth Waghorn come paint my walls. I wanted to make sure the spot added a bit of edge to the otherwise very white room. From the frame to the cabinet handles to the paint color selection for Carrie, I wanted that space to be a moment for the master bedroom.
I have sought out artists I spot in Architectural Digest, or in the background of a shot in a home tour, and gotten a feel for their style and looked at their other pieces, hoping that I can a) afford one of their pieces and b) just gather a wishlist of those I love. I think art is such a wonderful gift to give and receive, so for large scale pieces I always have a short list of artists I would love to have in the house one day.
If I am not purchasing an original, I try to find limited edition runs or prints of art and have recently bought a few from local Charleston artists including Whitney Stoddard and Chambers Austelle. When I’m mixing in works on a gallery wall, I will have a collection of both original and numbered prints that work well together. My dark green hallway has this consistent theme of dark and moody, and I’ve mixed in an original piece by Kim Hassold, work by Ronald Jackson, Nick Davis, and a few prints with the same green.
Don’t be afraid to ask about commissions. You might not be able to afford it and it will roll over to your wishlist, but sometimes you can and you can have something that is truly yours. When I asked my friend Carlisle Burch to recreate a piece I had seen on her website, she mentioned that it was just an iPad sketch. She had never truly put it on a canvas and I was so excited – as was she. I had fallen in love with that sketch and saved a space above my fireplace for a full scale version. I can’t wait until my scuba girl is home.
For me, I love knowing the artist that created my pieces, and often I find them locally or through Instagram. Knowing more about their lives and inspiration makes each piece feel that much more special and a part of my home. Having a diverse mix of artists and works on my walls is also very important to me. I want my daughter to know that all colors are worthy and inspire art to be created – that thought starts in my home.
I will also turn to vintage sources to find art, including the Paris flea markets, and websites like 1st Dibs. Mixing in the new with the old like these on the wall in my master bedroom tends to pull together well with a common theme. If you haven’t noticed, I like faces. The face on the left is a vintage Peter Keil, the one below is also a vintage piece, and the far right is a piece my mom handed down to me made out of seashells. I’ve also reframed a few of my grandmother’s art pieces and love seeing them mixed in with mine. Don’t get thrown by a frame, it can be fixed and made modern.
I’ve also framed a few things that are a little more unconventional – an old map of my family’s town in France, blueprints of the first house Ron ever did in Greenville, matchbooks from our favorite restaurants, renditions of matchbooks by My Father’s Daughter Designs, and a collection of vintage menus alongside my great-grandfathers that were handwritten. I am still adding to my kitchen wall and will share the end result when I get the final few pieces framed.
I am currently working with a few artists and galleries for Paula Rallis Home and can’t wait to show you the new artwork we are releasing in-store and online over the next month. We’re here to help you curate! Happy art gazing.