how to

Searching for Art

Photo credit Kandy M. Christensen

Photo credit Kandy M. Christensen

I moved most of the art that was in my dining room to my bedroom. I wanted art in my bedroom that would allow me to dream and a lot of the pieces that were in the dining room were of trips that I took (often with friends).

Once most of those pieces came down I realized I wanted something different. I love making a mean gallery wall, but I wanted something a bit bigger and dramatic to balance out the fabulous piece by Doug Birkenheuer that hangs over the fireplace on the opposite wall. 

It's funny because the mantel has already been completely restyled since this photo!

It's funny because the mantel has already been completely restyled since this photo!

I found some incredible abstract e-sumi paintings at an antique store in Bucktown and I really wanted them, but they are currently out of my price range. I found a beautiful large abstract painting by an artist I follow. Her work is worth the price, but I need to save up some money to make it possible.

I firmly believe that art is an important investment. It is one I have been making in smaller pieces over the years but my need for something big is challenging my bank account! So for today, I am looking at prints. 

One option is for one large piece that takes up a huge chunk of that wall. Except, that will probably cost more money and it will be expensive to frame.

The option I'm leaning towards is a triptych. Three pieces either of one art work broken up, or three pieces that are different but speak to each other. Here is a very poor rendering of what I am thinking of for that wall.

art option.jpg

I started looking on Minted but they didn't have any triptychs easily searchable. Next I turned to Society6 and they had some great triptychs but nothing that made my heart go pitter pat and fit the look I was going for. I like that these sites provide artists with a platform to sell their work and I have found fabulous pieces on there before. 

I learned of a site called Desenio and they totally had pieces that had the vibe I was looking for. Like these three mountains. I loved the color scheme and the way the looked together. I also loved the first one because it reminded me of the mountains in Lesotho, but I'm not really a mountain girl. 

Posters available at  Desenio

Posters available at Desenio

The next three were so cool, but ultimately they just didn't work together. There wasn't really a third option to go with the black and white photos. 

Posters available via  Desenio

Posters available via Desenio

I kept finding two that I wanted but couldn't find a third and so I switched gears and headed to Etsy. I searched for black and white triptych, but didn't find quite what I wanted so I narrowed the search even more to black and white abstract triptych. And then I found what I wanted. 

Image via  Minimal Instant

Image via Minimal Instant

It's got lots of movement, it's black and white, it's an already matched triptych and it comes in the size I want. Plus! It is made by an artist in Minnesota. 

While reading this blog post it may sound like I found what I wanted within a day, but I've been thinking about this wall for a couple of months. I've been finding myself drawn to abstract art (which is very challenging to execute) and wanted neutral colors because the other walls in that space have art with color. It did take a few hours to search through some of the sites but once I saw it I knew that was what I wanted. 

Sometimes budget constraints can be a good thing! They make you really narrow down your focus and think through what you really want. There are so many great artists offering prints that it is a shame to let yourself not enjoy art because you can't afford the real thing. 

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How to Style a Retro Industrial Mantel

Here is what I've learned from styling- keep playing with it. As you can see from the GIF below it took a couple of tries before I got the right feel. 

I started with this diagram about design by Charles Eames. Once I got the pulley in  place (available in the shop) the other side just needed a little tweaking. 

I love the end result that is a mixture of industrial, modern and a bit twee. The pitcher with flowers helps add some height. The mid-century modern vase plays off nicely with the Eames print. The sweet deer (which unfortunately has already sold) makes the whole thing not seem too serious. 

To recap-

  • First start with something large and bold that will have an impact. 
  • Next start layering items that complement your centerpiece. In this styling I had a theme and all of the items fit within that theme. 
  • You will notice that there is a certain symmetry to this styling, but it isn't perfect. Our eye is drawn to symmetry, but I think when it is too equal then it starts too feel too formal and staid. 
  • Use books to add height to items
  • Add things to your mantel that you love and want to display
  • Play with it. It some times takes me days of moving stuff around to finally decide I'm done. 

If by any chance you missed the past stylings here is Romantic Traditional and Nostalgic, which is my favorite because it is what my mantel looks like day to day!

If something caught your eye, most of the items seen pictured, except for the Eames print, are available in the shop. Please buy it so I don't keep it and add it to the collection on my mantel! 

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How to style a traditional romantic mantel

The look I was going for with this fireplace mantel was traditional romantic. I think I hit the traditional note by bringing in the vintage German clock along with the silver pitcher full of flowers. Below is a time lapse of the process. 

We always see these picture perfect images in magazines, but styling something takes a little bit of time and, well, futzing around. 

First I grabbed the piece that I knew I wanted to be the centerpiece of this mantel design. You want something that is a bit bold and has some height and weight to it. That was this stunning Rolf Armstrong print titled thinking of you from 1929. It's available here in the shop if you are interested. 

Next I paired it with this really cool hand made butterfly tray on silk fabric. I added a silver pitcher filled with flowers. 

IMG_0804.JPG

The tray felt a little like it was competing with the Rolf Armstrong print so I moved that and substituted it with this stunning reverse painted vintage mirror

Since the right hand side was looking a little empty, I added this fabulous silver plated candelabra (it's not just a candle holder, it's fancy- hence a candelabra!). I also put a small lotus candle holder. Which looks a bit twee against the ornate candelabra. 

Since I wasn't sold on the candelabra, I switched it out for this amazing German clock. At this point I kind of like how it looks, but I am still not at 100%. 

Same items, but swapped around, and still not there. 

The clock needed height to combat with the height of the flowers and so I put it on top of some of my favorite books. I love the balance and composition but I felt like the lotus flower candle holder was getting a little lost because the color tone was so similar to the color of the mat of the painting.

Et voila! I switched out the candle holder for this beautiful hand made Tibetan prayer wheel

  • First start with something large and bold that will have an impact. 
  • Next start layering items that complement your centerpiece. In this styling I had a theme and all of the items fit within that theme. 
  • You will notice that there is a certain symmetry to this styling, but it isn't perfect. Our eye is drawn to symmetry, but I think when it is too equal then it starts too feel too formal and staid. 
  • Use books to add height to items
  • Add things to your mantel that you love and want to display
  • Play with it. It some times takes me days of moving stuff around to finally decide I'm done. 

If you are looking for more styling inspiration take a look here

P.S. Everything that is hyper linked is available in the shop

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How to Pick Fabric

This post is part of a larger conversation about color, which I'll be talking about more on the blog because I know picking colors can be overwhelming. 

I am usually a pretty decisive person. People who like to shop hate shopping with me because I want to be in and out and done. My couch is ten years old and it is still in really good shape, but it needs new upholstery. The fabric withstood the test of time, but I don't recommend dropping chocolate or spilling wine on your couch (apparently I was having a bacchanalian party). Therefore I needed to find new fabric. 

I knew that I wanted to keep the couch relatively neutral because it is easier to change up accessories then to change a couch and I really did like the existing grey color palette. I thought I wanted velvet, but I also wanted to test the notion of pattern.  

I went on a search for fabric. I checked out West Elm, Fabric.com, House Fabric.com, I searched Etsy for fabric, and I googled organic upholstery fabric. I was really trying to find something that was made out of organic textiles because the fabric industry is so wasteful and harmful to the environment. FYI somebody needs to make a portal for people to buy organic fabric. It's not easy to find and it is not easy to purchase. 

When I received all of my samples I laid them all out on the back of the couch. 

The green and pumpkin fabric went, along with the lighter greys and a cream with grey print. I really liked the dark grey with the geometric print, but I wasn't sure about it all over the couch. I had the same issue with the grey and star/cross pattern, which was organic. Plus that fabric, while upholstery weight, was not heavy enough for the wear that a couch receives. 

Moving on then I am left with the velvet's. I liked the color of the swatch on the right and it was organic, but I wasn't sure about the quality. 

I then tested the options against the rug and the top left was a little too gunmetal grey. The other two work really well. The West Elm fabric could work well, but the top right sample is Gibson fabric. While a couple of dollars more, I had already upholstered a chair in the fabric and I know that it looks great and wears well. 

At one point I had a fabric sample that was velvet, but the exact same color of my current couch, which is cement. I texted a friend and said I was thinking of playing it safe, but I wanted to go darker and she said change it up. 

To recap:

  • Get a lot of samples
  • Try to go outside of your comfort zone, but recognize that it may not work.
  • Make sure you have the right fabric for the job. For furniture it needs to be heavy weight upholstery. For pillows you use medium. Sometimes you can use light weight, but you will need to line the fabric for stability. Curtains can pretty much use any weight depending on the look you want.
  • Sit with the fabric for a couple of days.
  • Slowly take samples away. This took me almost a week.
  • Check the color against existing pieces or textiles in the room.
  • Bring in a second opinion.

So, now that I have picked a sample I need to order the fabric and reupholster the couch. I am going to make a snug fitting slipcover because I'm not sure I am up to reupholstering the couch. That will be an adventure for another day. 
 

 

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