As professional kitchen and interior designer, clients often came to me full of fear. Their homes needed updating and they were terrified to make costly mistakes. My advice then was the same I'd offer today. Invest in fundamentals like quality furniture and flooring. Since these are costly and are typically around for the long haul - go neutral, go timeless. Wood, gray, beige tones, grey greens, tweedy textures - these make a perfect backdrop for more dramatic and less expensive elements, like paint, art, pillows, throws, and decorative accessories.
My first major home purchase was an Ethan Allen sofa festooned with huge, teal and mauve flowers. [Insert 1980s sad face here.] It was wicked comfortable and had a gorgeous shape. But the fabric was an mistake, limiting me to dated colors for what felt like ever. It left my life long before reaching the end of its useful life.
So if you're searching for a starting place, think little black dress, good bones, long term. That neutral couch that looks so plain won't be once draped with a snuggly blanket and soft, patterned pillows. Add some colorful artwork to the walls, maybe some black, wood, or metallic accessories, and you've got a room you'll love, until you don't. And when you don't - too wintery, summery, or 2020-ery, changes won't cost a fortune.
IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU
Art is about personality, so always, always select what you like. If it doesn't speak to you, keep searching until you find something that does. This is your home. Make it all about you.
Many people find it easier to start with a larger piece, then build around it. Here's a little about size and scale:
- Oversized pieces (30x40) act as a focal point of a wall or in a room
- Large wall art (24x30) can stand alone or work as centerpiece - balanced on either side by something smaller
- Medium wall decor (20x24 or 16x20) can stand alone, but also works well in groups
- Small artwork (11x14) works best as part of a group, over pieces of furniture, or as part of a gallery - like on a floating shelf ledge
Get a sense of scale (and humor) for your art purchase with this size guide.