An Affair with Artwork

We’re renovating the cottage next door. As soon as the artwork went up, it felt like a home.

Settling into our cottage has been a long and languid journey. It started with the Great Purge, when Dan and I let go of many of the furnishings that filled our larger home in Atchison. Because our cottage is so small, we could only keep the things we loved most. For Dan, it was all those books. For me, it was artwork (and dishes, but that’s a story for another day).

Our stairwell has become a gallery showcasing some of my favorite pieces of artwork.

Even though I had miles less wall space in the cottage, I was determined to squeeze in every piece of art I held dear. To Dan’s astonishment, I did it. In my mind, there was never any doubt. Because I know that art is what makes a house feel like a home, gives it its voice.

I really love to mix together dissimilar pieces of artwork, making a unified collection out of pieces that each lend their unique voice.

I’ve had fun working with Dillon, the gifted artwork display designer at Nell Hill’s, to see my old favorites in brand new ways. Where could I hang my huge canvasses, the ones that had filled my two-story entry and lofty rooms, so they didn’t overwhelm the cottage’s snug spaces? How could I mix up my groupings, putting pieces together with new partners, instead of just replicating the montages I loved in my old house? How could I squeeze in all these piece without making the spaces visually chaotic? Dillon was a master at taking my vision and making it a reality.

When I decorate a room, I may scrimp on furnishings or accents, but never on artwork.

We just finished decorating our den downstairs, our little Hobbit hole where Dan and I cocoon in the winter months, watching way too much Netflix or getting lost in a great read. Until recently, this room doubled as Dan’s home office, a hidey-hole where Dan, Lyric (our golden retriever) and the cat reigned. While my husband has many amazing talents, keeping a space tidy is not one of them. Clutter, pet hair, ugh. So, I evicted him from the room and reclaimed the space.

There are no rules you have to follow when selecting art for your home, except this one: Only display artwork you love.

We moved some of the older furniture over to Mom’s cottage next door, brought in a few new pieces, and covered the walls with art. I am no longer embarrassed to bring friends down into this private space, and if he’s honest, Dan enjoys spending time there all the more now that the space is beautiful, and clean.

I want my mom’s cottage next door to feel like it’s been in our family for generations. Artwork is helping me achieve my vision.

We had just moved my mom into the cottage next door before she died. I’m sad that we didn’t have the home finished before she passed so that she could enjoy it to its fullest. But now I’m making it a warm and welcoming retreat, in her honor. As we decorate, room by room, it’s the artwork that has made all the difference. Once the walls were covered in art, it became a home.

Artwork is perhaps the most important design element in a room. It makes the space uniquely yours.

My affair with artwork began when I was just beginning my career. When I had a little money saved up, I bought art. Through the years, I upgraded my pieces and added to my collection. It’s made all the difference in my homes. And, that’s one of the biggest pieces of decorating advice I give when people ask me to help style their homes: Don’t scrimp on the artwork. You may have the most beautiful furnishings in the world, but your home isn’t finished – doesn’t have its soul – until the walls are filled with artwork that brings you joy.

Next Week … We will visit a friend’s house for ideas on how to bring your personality to life in your home.