Design Dilemma: Art vs. Furniture | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Art vs. Furniture

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There’s an old decorator’s credo that you must make a choice when decorating: Either you highlight your furniture or you highlight your art. In other words, if you have a fabulous art collection, you’ll want to stick to subdued and neutral color choices in your furniture, carpets and accessories. Or, on the other hand, if you have unique colorful, funky furnishings and walls, you’re better holding back on vibrant and colorful paintings.

And let’s face it, there’s a reason why this decorating rule has taken on such weight over the years: it’s mostly true. Too much of everything and your risk having bright, vibrant color and pattern fight with bright, vibrant art.

But rules are meant to be broken. What’s the key to breaking them successfully?

1) Don’t try to match art to furnishings but pick up on colors in paintings in accessories when possible.
The art over your couch doesn’t have to match your couch. As a matter of fact, artists hate that approach to collecting! On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt if you throw in accessories — pillows, throws, vases, etc. — that pick up on colors that appear in your artwork. There’s no need to feel shame about that. In the room below the yellow arm chairs and ottoman echo yellow to be found in all of the visible paintings. In addition, the turquoise in some of the paintings is echoed in vases and other small accessories around the room. In the room above, the color and pattern of the artwork above the sofa is echoed in the tumble of colorful, patterned throw pillows.

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2) Allow wall colors to pick up on colors in the artwork or to contrast with the art.
In the picture below, the deep brown tone of the wall echoes the deep brown of the featured painting. The bright orange in the painting plays off bright color in other accessories placed around the room and pops more because the wall is painted brown. Some art collectors might be afraid that a wall of the same color would kill a painting, but in this case, it works! But that’s not the only way to approach wall color. A wall color might contrast with a work of art, making the artwork pop even further. Or, of course, you can always stick to white.

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3) Choose area rugs that echo the colors of your artwork.
In the room below the bright reds of the oriental rug work well with the reds found in some of the drawings. As a matter of fact, oriental rugs are an easy way to give any sort of room — either traditional or modern — a classic, stylish air that will complement art rather than compete with it. Just choose a rug with the right kind of pattern (more geometric tribal rugs work well with abstract and modern works, more ornate patterns can work well with traditional pieces).

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4) Black and white works with anything.
If you’re looking for art and you’ve already chosen patterned, very bold furnishings and carpets, you can’t go wrong with black and white paintings, photographs or framed drawings. Or, alternatively, if you have bold colorful art, you can’t go wrong by choosing carpets and furnishing with black and white accents. Black and white is classic and classy. Below, the striped black and white rug works surprisingly well with a large-scale abstract work.

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Below are two more examples of artful mixes of wall color, pattern and art. In the first photo, the bold wall color, art choice and playful furniture lends a funky and fun effect. In the second, black-matted artwork set off by gray walls and a timeless oriental rug lend a  classic and elegant air.

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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,, 6 and 7

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