Many people hesitate to develop a collection of art because they feel the size and style of their home will be unable to support a collection of bigger pieces.
If you’ve been feeling discouraged after looking at glossy home decor magazines like Architectural Digest and House Beautiful, don’t be. You need to reconsider shying away from expanding your collection, especially if you are still longing for larger and lovelier pieces of art but feel you have nowhere to showcase them ~ you can successfully display them in your more modest home.
Your modest home can still function as a working home environment for yourself and family, and also support your collection without the need to  have acres and acres of wall for a carefully curated collection.
You will need to take into account some general principles to do it though.

Cecil Youngfox

You will need to avoid competing elements in your decorating scheme:  paint your walls a standard white that you can live with throughout your home ~ choose carefully – there are hundreds and hundreds of shades of white and you want one you feel you can live with – not too icey and not too creamy. Buy enough to have a bit left over for touch ups and keep a record of both the colour name and the formula, if it was mixed specially.
No patterned curtains, and no curtains at all unless  it is absolutely necessary ~ blinds might be more successful.
Same goes for carpet – if you absolutely have to have wall-to-wall make it a neutral colour. Wood or natural tile floors are more forgiving and you might consider a midrange tone rather than extremely light or dark. Area rugs can extend the art focus  to textiles as well if you choose  several rugs either from Native North American sources, true folk art sources and/or ethnic middle eastern rugs.
Your upholstered pieces should not compete either – make sure they are neutral colours or if they aren’t get some slipcovers.

Haida carving: cedar, polychromed clacker

As for hanging your pieces: first view your freshly painted rooms with nothing hung on the walls. Visually divide up each hanging surface by centering the spot you will hang a piece and then deciding where mid eye level will fall ~ install a suitably large plain picture hook at the central spot remembering that you may wish to move your art around (or if you’re like me, you will expect to sell a piece and may replace it with one of a different size). For example, the Bill Reid silkscreen of the Grizzly that you see over my fireplace has recently replaced another piece. Remember that no place in your house is unsuitable for hanging a piece of art as long as it will be seen…… I know bathrooms can be nicely enhanced by a well chosen piece and there’s nothing to say that a laundry/mudroom won’t be improved by a little art too. The kitchen  will also support some pieces.

Remember that small three dimensional decorative pieces enhance and sometimes give an edge to fine art and be sure to include some pieces. For example, my mid-century european glassware sitting on the mantel with the Bill Reid enhances with its brilliant toning colours and adds an air of lightness. Better by far than storing those spare vases in a cabinet.

The very large Youngfox hanging near the television is also enhanced by one of a kind ceramics that echo the colours and reflect the shapes used by the artist. The tv co-exists happily with the art and the ceramics.

Bill Reid silkscreen

I’m proud of my home, but also very aware that it is a modest middle class structure that I was able to make a little more outstanding by careful editing of furniture and decorative pieces. It is by no means a mega mansion, but by the spareness of competing pattern and colour it has a feeling of spaciousness and calm. 


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