We’re back with Design 101 (we’ve missed you all!) and we’re kicking it off with Art! 

Many of the visitors to our room at the DC Design House have asked us how we developed the art collection for the room.  We also got a few art related questions last week during our Home Front chat with The Washington Post.  We’re thrilled that our readers are taking such an interest in art, so this month we’ll be covering everything you need to know about building your own art collection.

Up this week: ART - Where to Start

Henry Taylor,  Untitled , 2011; Thomas Rome,  Long Island , 2005; Amy Sillman,  Psychology Today , 2006

Henry Taylor, Untitled, 2011; Thomas Rome, Long Island, 2005; Amy Sillman, Psychology Today, 2006

Step One:  Find your Style

Start by exposing yourself to as much art as you can.  Search online, visit galleries and museums, and read art books. When viewing art, trust your gut.  Art can bring back memories, evoke emotions, or be something you simply just like looking at. 

We suggest starting an art notebook by gathering images of things you like.  Don’t worry if you don’t always know who the artist is.  Chances are, you’ll notice patterns start to evolve that will help you determine your style preferences. 

You can also work with a professional to determine what kind of art you are drawn to. 

Step Two: Decorating vs Collecting

Designers approach art in different ways.  Many will develop a design concept, and then search for art that is complementary.  Years ago I bought a t-shirt that said, “good art won’t match your sofa”, which is a philosophy I have adopted towards art.  Art is individual, and can breath new life and personality into a space.  We often start with art first, so that we can develop a space around it.  For example, if you have a piece of art that you love, you can highlight it with lighting and a background paint color.

That said, if you’re stumped about what art will work with your space, it’s fine if it does match your couch.  As long as it’s a piece of art that you like!  Think about colors, patterns, and textures that you can live with, rather than selecting a piece of art you dislike just because it matches your décor. 

Anna Magruder,  Coast , available on  Etsy ; Juan Chavarria, Jr.,  Artemis , available on  Mammoth and Company 

Anna Magruder, Coast, available on Etsy; Juan Chavarria, Jr., Artemis, available on Mammoth and Company 

Step Three:  Look Deeper

Art is a reflection of your personal style, so enhance your collection by knowing a bit more about the story behind it.  You can find information about most artists on his or her website that will help you understand the artist’s philosophy and history.  If you’ve found art while traveling, there’s probably a story behind it as well.  

Ultimately, art is open to interpretation.  So if you see a piece of art differently than what the artist intended, don’t fret.  Your interpretation only adds to the story!

Step Four: Determine your Art Budget

There’s that word again, budget!  Earlier in Design 101 we discussed developing a Decoration Budget. Art can be included in your decorative budget so you allow yourself room to add the finishing touches to your home. 

If you are hoping to make an investment in art, we suggest consulting a professional for guidance.  But art doesn’t have to be valuable.  We use plenty of cheap n’ chic art just because it makes us happy!


Step Five: Dive In

As with furniture, don’t feel like you have to rush in and buy everything at once.  Take time to find art you truly love. If you’ve found a piece that stays with you long after you’ve seen it, chances are it’s something you’ll enjoy having in your home. 

If you’ve found a particular style you love, go for it and start collecting.  Trust yourself.  Not everyone is going to understand your art, so the most important thing is that it speaks to you personally.

Happy Collecting.


If you have questions about art collecting, installation, or anything else, please shoot us an email.  We love to hear from you!

Up Next Week: Working with an Art Consultant!