Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Design: Art Schmart

Megan, Joni and Linda discuss our views on hanging art on walls, the “gallery space”, matching art to interiors, and family photos as art. This tame sounding subject gives rise to some heated views on what constitutes art, mistakes people make and why your family photos just don't interest some people all that much!

We're looking forward to what you all have to say on the subject!



Oh how I love this topic! As a former Gallerist and (still)Artist, I have some opinions. I think curators approach art hanging very differently than designers..don't you?...Curators look at the flow of an exhibit, the emotional context; the journey of visitors to the art show. Designers look at the entire room and how things work together; either in unison or in contrast to make a statement. I was a room with no furnishings hang art 65" from the middle of the piece to the floor. No exceptions. If there are furnishings then that changes ever so slightly. I also believe that there really isn't any bad art, just peoples' opinions and subjective perspective on art. (to each's own) I would rather see a room designed around artwork that the owner adores, than owners going out and trying to find art that matches the sofa. I love, love, love the picture bowl idea and I still do like 'The London Wall' look - Kate Spade has a grey bedroom with gallery walls - Tracy Porter does them well too. Now, family photos...hmmm...I had a friend who lived in a massive home. When you walked into (the lobby) there was a huge, vaulted spiral staircase. Up the staircase was 4 (3'x6') B&W portraits of their daugthers. Oh my word - it was stunning. So incredible; so I think if family portraits are done well, they are wonderful. Ahhh..that's all for now. Keep up the excellent radio show...I love it! I listen to every word!

mary said...

Loved this discussion. I love (and sell) good does not need to be signed, or by a listed artist to be good....but it does need to be able to engage the viewer. When it is hung inappropriately, when the scale is off, or when the art is an after-thought accessory, my teeth start grinding. Nobody mentioned works on paper, ie., great engravings, etchings, lithos. from the antique to the most contemporary. These collections can make a wall really pop. Of course, the right framing for the art and space is so important.
Thanks for all of your insights.

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Thanks you gals for doing this, I really enjoy it. I did think you left something out of this topic that drives me crazy...the "too small painting", it seems that I find this all the time with clients. They will have a nice painting but it will be too small. I am so big on things being in scale and it drives me crazy. I try to get them to stack the art, sometimes that will solve the problem. Do you see this a lot too?

LindsB said...

I'm listening right now and I love this one because I'm also on board with hating art hung too high. But, since I'm 5'2 its hard. Would love to see pictures from the three of you of what is too high, too low and just right. I trust the three of you and want to make sure I get mine right :)

Happy long weekend!

[ 3 d b l u r ] said...

A rule of thumb I've used forever is 60" AFF (above finish floor) to the center of the piece... there are exceptions of course... and in that case it's an eye thing...

rinday said...

I love your blogspots and the radio talk shows. I have a topic for you - what about placement of coffee tables. I hate to see a coffee table sitting in the middle of the room and not in relation to the sofa. I thought they were supposed to be approximately 18" from the sofa. Not for display in the middle of the room! Any comments?

Richie's 2ts Inspires said...

I been an avid reader of your blog but don't have the guts to post comments, then until now.

Well, my delimma is that my frames are big and I have a little house w/ a marginal walls. I have nice things to hang up, like Cammy painting, famous swedish painters, asians and even have original papyrus & poster from the Vatican but my hubby is so worried that the house would like museum. Therefore, I roled this beauties and hide.

Now, just happy looking at others home w/ nice paintings on their walls.

Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

great topic ladies!! I think a range in the number of peices on intersecting walls is also important...take care,


Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

...So how do you REALLY feel about personal photos too high paintings and portrait walls? Hee.

It's all so subjective. But FUN to hear your perspectives. No disclaimers needed...cause it is, in the end, your opinion on your show. about a discussion of different regions/different decorating? You all are in different parts of the country.

Keep it real...keep it fun!

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Another great topic! I always hang painting the height the average person would be comfortable viewing I think I've been doing that right. :-) Although, having said that, I love to see paintings stacked down a wall in certain rooms...the room has to call for it. And I really love to see a small painting on the wall in a little reading nook or corner, where it's eye level if you were sitting in the chair...just feels so cozy and personal. I don't mind seeing family pics in a home, as long as it isn't overdone where there are a gazillion in every single room of the house. I know someone who has a portrait of herself in her wedding gown above a sofa in their formal living room...this painting is massive, probably 4 ft wide by 5 or 6 foot tall. But then I've toured many a historic home where the lady of house's portrait is above the mantel in the dining maybe that's a classic thing.
I bet you already have this on your list to discuss...but lighting is a big thing for me...overhead vs only lamp lighting, whether to use those awful energy saving bulbs that make things look cold and yucky, positions of lamps in a room, unexpected a lamp on a kitchen counter or a chandelier in the bathroom, etc... I love lighting...extremely important element in a room to me. Loving your round table discussions. :-)

Petra Voegtle said...

Hello Ladies,
I very much enjoyed your podcast - discovered your website just today (from Brooke Gianetti's blog)and will surely add a link to my blog.
What I was missing a bit - but maybe it was not a focal point - was the type of art you would like to see in a house - f.e. modern pieces in a modern house or in a traditional home etc. Also a VERY important issue is the framing of art - this is definitely depending on the whole interior design.
But that would probably have gone beyond your scope of the podcast. Maybe in another one.

A coincidence for me was that the blog I started a couple of months ago is exactly about this theme:
Art and Interior. Check it out if you like. It's the point of view from an artist towards interior design - so the other way round than yours:
Best regards from Munich,

Renae said...

Great's all in the "eye"! Balance is key and creating a whole look is great!
Thanks Ladies!

Tracy said...

Such a great topic... art hung too high has got to be my #1 decorating pet peeve. And so many people do it!! #2 might just be the personal photos in public spaces. Especially the mega-portrait (of the resident newlyweds or happy family) hung over the mantel or in some otherwise prominent public space. Didn't it used to be considered in poor taste to put yourself or your offspring on open display to your guests? Or did that kind of humility go out the window when McMansions, Hummers, million-dollar weddings, and "it" bags came into vogue? Maybe I'm just hopelessly out of touch. Loved this podcast though!

Anonymous said...

What refresher! This is my first time listening to your show and I have listend to three different segments in a row. I do have to object to one point, and I know that Megan knew this would be coming, but I just cant believe her perspective on seeing people's personal photos! I absolutley love seeing photos because that are great windows into people's lives and loves. When you look OUT a window---you see the world. When you look inside a home---you see that person's life. Without photos I just cant find the soul of the person regardless of the amount of style or color represented at the home. That being said, there are better ways of displaying them which all photo lovers should take note of (ex. Photo bowl=yay! Over clutterd mantle=nay) Not too many, not to clutteredn but just a snapshot or two of the person who lives in that place.

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

I'm late listening to this topic, but I just had to remark. (You knew the family photos was going to set somebody off!) My family photos are in my home for mine and my family's viewing pleasure. They are not displayed to show other people how great our photos are. WE enjoy seeing them on a daily basis. Of course, I am not a designer, so I can't say that I should or shouldn't have photos displayed. I can only say that we enjoy our family photos in frames. Love the idea of a bowl on the coffee table, but with four very young grandchildren, who visit often, I don't think my photos would survive long. You did talk about art being such a personal thing, and that there are art pieces hanging in some homes that you wouldn't hang in your homes. Are framed photos on tables and shelves not a similar discretionary accessory in our homes? I enjoy listening to your lively discussions, and I apologize for writing you a "book"! laurie

Lauren said...

LOVE this topic!! I had to laugh when the "gallery wall" discussion started because as of right now I have had no personal photos ever in any of my homes. I love family photos & am a huge album freak and usually squirrel away the good ones to be framed in the future- which I never get around to.

Since moving into our new house --- and let me say my friends & family always make fun of me for having no family photos anywhere--- I decided I'd do a gallery wall with all B&W photos in similar frames: some from when our grandparents & parents were younger, and some good ones of our family/ toddler/ etc. My criteria is that all the pics have to be special, timeless, and almost works of art... if that makes any sense and it'll be a "growing wall" that I want to add to as the years go on. SO I am now hearing this is overplayed?!! (hahaha it figures because I'm usually behind on trends!! :) But I think the important thing is that your house makes you happy- whether it's considered chic at the time or not...

I also like to see things like family pictures in one place because I think a gallery wall can kind of tell a family's story.

Really interesting discussion & last thing- was glad Linda brought up her 8 & 16 foot walls because I run into this issue a lot and am often bothered by my "cheating" of the art higher than I'd like it to be to compensate for all the extra wall space.

ok- thanks so much and am loving these discussions!!

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the roundtable to download and have enjoyed reading the comments here on a very interesting subject. I have a TON of original paintings because my father-in-law is an artist and I love his work, but I can't seem to get it right as to where/how to hang them. I didn't think about it very much in our old house, I just hung things where there was space, but now I really want it to look right. The result is that I have A LOT of holes in our new walls and my husband comes home to changes at least once a week. I had read in the past the problem with hanging paintings too high and that has helped. I also love stacking and having things a little unexpected-- a small painting under a large painting. I am trying to approach the placement in vignettes, creating many nice little spaces, as opposed to centering a whole room around one piece.
I love love love the idea of the photo bowl, but having grown up in a house where no photos were displayed in the interest of decor, I always felt jealous of my friends who had parents proudly showing off their children on the walls. I'm not one for professionally posed pictures, but almost every room in our house has at least a couple candid, fun photos of my children that make me smile-- they are mostly in little nooks, on side tables, etc. This is who WE are and I want my home to reflect the fact that we value our time with our children.
I'm amazed, inspired, and highly entertained by the time and effort you all put into your blogging work! I'm telling you, I would happily pay some kind of fee to access these... :)

Anonymous said...

Wow can't believe I missed this one. I loved Linda's comments about the mirrors/relfection. I tell all of my clients the same. What are you reflecting and there are lots of unexpected ways to handle a fireplace mantle beyond the "mirror". That said I love a mirror in the foyer and try to always use one there(the relfection is part of the design here as well).
And I am also with Megan I don't like to see family pictures everywhere I prefer to see them in the Master. But you could get tarred and feathered for this remark in the South. And finally Joni I too agree with your assessment of art and design I think each should enhance the other. And I do think I understand art I just do not want to have to decide which to look at I want the whole thing to flow and then I will discover the art and not have it in my face.

Great job ladies this is so interesting with the 3 points of view. You gotta love it. I do!


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Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I was nodding my head in agreement with most everything everyone said.

I love the idea of a bowl filled with pictures.