Friday, February 12, 2010

Decorating with Pictures

You may have guessed by now that I lean towards paintings when we go to auction previews. I love walls with interesting pictures, whether they are prints, painting, drawing or photographs. When I go to a home, restaurant, or hotel, one of the first thing I notices are the walls, and bare walls disturb me! Pictures add warmth and character. They don't need to be expensive, just interesting and reflective of you.

I came home to my new edition of Elle Decor, and the cover for March perfectly reflects what I'm talking about.

Elle Decor cover March 2010

I love the way the art work is displayed on the walls, and that there's lots of it. There isn't just one picture per wall, and the hanging even adds more depth to the presentation. It's not all symmetrical, but I'm sure it was well planned. There's an article inside the magazine titled 'On Display' that has a few ideas on how to hang art like this (maybe a tad too busy for me in the article).

Auctions are great places to build a collection of pictures for decorating and enjoyment. Over the years we've bought paintings and prints that have added warmth to our home. Our taste has evolved over the years, and some of the paintings we bought early on have now moved on to new homes with our daughters. Even if you are just decorating your first place, an auction can provide the beginnings of a grouping like the one on the Elle cover.

I would call our taste eclectic since we have art work from the 18th century right through to contemporary artists, and ranging from American, to European, to Asian, and Latin American.

Our strategy is to buy what we like, and we will enjoy looking at it in our home.We never buy to fit a style or color scheme in a room. If there is somehow a clash of color, then there will be another room for the picture.

Before we hang pictures we try them in several places first before settling on just the right spot. We might lean them against the wall for a day or two, or group them on the floor to plan the hanging pattern. It's funny how we often have that 'ah-ha' moment when the placing of the picture is exactly right.

I like grouping pictures but have to admit that I don't do it that often. Some of my rules would include:
  • If the wall is very large, it probably needs more than one picture on it. This could be several pictures, or pictures and some other art work, say, decorative plates. 
  • If the picture is meant to be a focal point for the room, then probably keep the things around it to a minimum. 
  • Even nooks and crannies of walls can be very nice places for a group of small pictures. They can be a bit of a surprise to the person who happens on them. 
  • No matter what the size of the wall, a large grouping of pictures can be an 'artwork' in itself, somewhat like a collage. Family photos can make wonderful wall decoration in large numbers (vary the size and frames).
I have a book that I have found a good source of ideas and practical information: 'Displaying Pictures and Photographs', by Caroline Clifton-Mogg and Piers Feetham (1993). I checked Amazon and they still have them, even though it's a bit old.

The grouping don't need to be of the same style or genre, and may be more interesting if they aren't. Here we have a 19th century Irish mirror along side a 19th century painting of a young woman (bought at auction) and two contemporary Irish landscape paintings.

 Compared to the Elle cover, I have been very conservative with the number of things I have on this wall. I might have to rethink it!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your thoughts on buying what you like and trusting that there will be a place for someone that is often short on space (in comparison to the amount of "treasures" I find) I also like switching paintings out and also keeping focal point pieces in the same place, but alternating adjacent family photos and ephemera.


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