Pointers for Curating a Collected, Art-Filled Home (Boho or No)

I enjoyed this home tour of contemporary art dealer Blair Clarke’s Artful Park Avenue Apartment not only for its stunning mix of art and antiques, but also for its helpful tips on designing with art, something close to the heart of us boho chickies.

On decorating a space to complement an art collection, Blair recommends in the Lonny article:

  • Avoid clutter. (Oops! This may be a problem for some of you.)
  • Don’t push all furniture against the wall. (The art needs room to breathe.)
  • Keep salon-style work (that’s the biggies) in drawing rooms and studies, and hang smaller works on or in bookshelves.
  • Don’t hang pieces too high. Eye-level is best.
  • Use multiple light sources and low-wattage bulbs.
  • Curate your home by moving pieces around. You’ll be amazed how different a piece looks in another setting.

Shall we dance?

Patrick Cline

In her living room, Blair hung a large painting between similarly sized windows, which magnify its impact and create the suggestion of a triptych. One long curtain rod with panels at either end unites the look.

I think the palette in this room is so nuanced: shades of ivory, brown, gray and black, accented by the same pop of coral red as in the painting. It all pulls the eye right into the art. Even the pillows look curated, with an eclectic mix of shapes, colors and patterns.

Blaire’s husband Alistair is worldwide head of English and European furniture for Sotheby’s and came into the marriage with a fine collection of antiques, which we can glimpse in these photos. At first their tastes clashed, but their personalities clicked, so they soon found a way to make it work.

Patrick Cline

“For us, decorating is like ballroom dancing: each partner relies on the other,” she says. “We like to call it a classic hodgepodge with a touch of humor.” Whatever she calls it, work it does, as can be seen from these other views of the living room.

For those of us lacking art or antiques experts in our partnerships, Blair has more suggestions for orchestrating this dance in your own home:

  • Mix periods and cultures. Antique textiles and china often inspire the work of contemporary artists and can work well with modern pieces.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. You’ll achieve surprising results from unlikely pairings.
  • Use contemporary fabrics when reupholstering antiques or making curtains for antiques-filled rooms.
  • Use color to create unconventional juxtapositions.

See all the photos of this home and read about its creation on Lonny.

More ways with big art…

1. Hang some, lean some

Via Architecture Art Design

The large artwork over the sofa assumes center stage, no doubt. But with the various objets d’art in the room, leaning canvases lend a bit of gallery appeal. I love how the blue rug works as a pathway leading directly to the painting in a more vivid hue of the same color.

There’s also an interesting mix of old and new, high and low, as well as a bit of fun, going on here, what with the Union Jack chair upholstery and the VW van model on the table.

2. Two bigs, but not TOO big

Via Decoholic

The long, rustic built-in credenza unites this space, but the wiring chase in the wall acts architecturally to give each painting its own space to breathe. A similarity in color unites the two works, and I like that one is hung low and the other high. The black velvet sofa positioned at an angle leads the eye in and connects with the black in the paintings.

See/read more about this double-fronted Edwardian house in north London at Decoholic.

3. Get set

Alessandra Branca via Mix and Chic

These four paintings, though similar, are just a smidge different. Together they communicate as one large installation. And don’t they look stunning against that pinstripe wallpaper? Wow! Alessandra Branca, the room’s designer is known for fusing chic, old-world craftmanship with energy and practicality, and there’s a lot of that going on here. Follow the link to see more of her work.

How to get this look on-the-cheap: Use four copies of the same square geometric print and rotate each one to a different side, clockwise. It will give your display subtle variety and movement.

4. Scatter

Richard Powers

This is a different kind of gallery wall—one with a large-format painting at its heart. My background is in graphic design, and this room illustrates a technique common in print page layout: dominance. Your main element should be at least twice the size of the others.

In page layout, elements would typically be equidistant, but I rather like the shotgun scatter effect on this gambrel-pitched wall. It reminds me of how light might penetrate the gable end of a barn. The triangles in the delightful area rug, in turn, emulate light beams hitting ground.

5. Focus

Alyssa Rosenheck

The immaculately styled, built-in shelves in this Brentwood, Tenn., home have a lot going on, but it’s far from clutter. The large painting, flanked by sconces and underscored by a neutral sofa bring focus to the variety of elements because of the shared palette and repetition of shapes.

See/read more about this home by Nashville designer Lori Paranjape on Domino.

6. Go three-dimensional

Brittany Ambridge via Design Chic

The three oval paintings that flank each side of the larger work of art repeat its curves, while the hand sculpture in the foreground suggests a body taking shape. The golden ball held between thumb and forefinger of the sculpture refer back to the painting, and together the elements add vitality to the room (as well as a touch of quirk).

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