Up the ante with artwork

Welcome to a fun and fabulous month of blog posts. We’re launching January with my very own AA design-ometer. All month we’ll be going through makeover tips to make uninspiring rooms an incredible space to hang out in! Follow all the design-ometer makeover posts here.

Adding art to your walls is one of the most transformative things you can do. It gives them instant kudos as well as adding colour, dimension, texture on and on I could go! It’s not easy I know finding the perfect piece, see my sources list below, but once you start its kind of addictive.

You can’t get full marks on the design-ometer without some art in the room, so here’s the lowdown on how to begin your own collection. Tomorrow I’ll also be sharing some ideas for how to create art on the cheap, to bust the myth that you always need to spend a fortune for cool artwork.

Starting a collection

Art changes up the vibe of a room  and I don’t think any space feels complete without it. Seriously any space – the same goes for kitchens, bathrooms, hallways or the downstairs loo! So whichever room you’ve chosen for your design-ometer makeover, there’s no excuse. I always think people stop decorating way too soon. It’s the extra layers of interest like artwork and decoration that add oodles of personality to a space. So don’t skip on art! You don’t have to have a snooty curated art collection that costs a fortune – I’m talking any kind of art, from big canvases to something you may have knocked up yourself. Magazine tears, prints, kids drawings, stuff by emerging designers, existing designers, they all add to the atmosphere.

When you’re choosing art, the only rule is to buy from the heart. When I’m buying, I never worry about size or technique or the art period or where I’ll put it or any of that. I just pick artwork that I have an instant emotional attachment to. It might be because it evokes a particular mood or atmosphere, or maybe the colour palette particularly resonates with me. I love new artists and ballsy “bad boy” art, because it gives a certain feeling of fearlessness and edge to a room. I can’t stand bland, so the more boundaries you push, the better to my mind! But I have to love a piece first and foremost – I’m not interested in edgy art just for the sake of it.


With so many good sites out there, there literally is no excuse. Try Etsy, Artsy.net, eBay, Chairish, Art.com and 1st Dibs for starters. A couple of my go-to sources for emerging artists are www.degreeart.com, and www.newbloodart.com. Pure Evil  in Shoreditch is always on my radar for cool prints and paintings, and Saatchiart.com  has a huge collection at all different price points. Two of my favourite artists are Barbara Smith and Russ Lewis (Russ by the way has just finished the most beautiful work for which we are launching in Paris). Super cowboy-esq I will show you guys next week.

Getting to know what you like requires a bit of research so joining mailing lists of galleries, visiting museums and checking out artist’s studios will help you figure out what appeals to you.

Auction houses are a great resource too. They’re not all selling Hockney’s and Rothko’s! I’ve picked up some incredible pieces for under £100. Try Paddle8.com – it’s an online auction house with themed monthly auctions. Fleas and vintage fairs can also have some gems at great prices. I’ll be going into how to get art on a shoestring in loads more detail in tomorrow’s blog post.

Creating your gallery

So once you’ve got your art, you need a cool way to display it to it’s best advantage. For a cool casual vibe consider just plonking art on the floor, or propped on shelves or side tables. It immediately makes a space feel more relaxed and informal, and also means you won’t put off decorating because you haven’t found the perfect spot on the wall yet. It’s really effective, particularly with massive oversized pieces.

If you don’t have one standout piece, grouping a load of art together in one place is a great way to make your collection look more impressive. Even magazine clippings and old postcards can make an impact in a big display. Picture ledges are great, particularly for hallways or landings. Or you might end up addicted to art collecting and end up with heaps of pieces. Fab – now you can put up a floor to ceiling salon style art wall. One of my favourite unexpected art tricks is to prop or hang it in front of a bookcase. The Americans do this a lot and it’s really clever – handy for hiding ugly stuff on shelves, or an embarrassing book collection! It makes for an interesting layered look, as does hanging art over wallpaper or on a textured exposed brick wall.

Voila! Art doesn’t have to be daunting or a massive investment.And if you buy pieces you love they will stick with you for a long time. My house is constantly evolving, so I might switch it up a bit by moving pieces into different rooms sometimes, but a painting I’ve had since our time living in the States is still one of my favorite things in the whole house. I put a lot of thought, time and effort into my collection because I buy for life.

The image by the way is one of Jonathan Adler’s, of which I am the hugest fan!

Happy Wednesday


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