Picture This

Decorating with art for the neophyte

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A large painting and a casual arrangement of smaller pieces top a fireplace designed and fabricated by Randall Kramer (kramerdesignstudio.com) for homeowners Thomas Job and Peter Perrodin.

How many times have you been told that when buying art, you should follow your heart? That if you feel passionate about a piece, you’ll find a way to make it work? This is good advice, but it doesn’t go far enough.

You may love something on a bare wall in a well-lighted shop or a gallery, or even online, but how can you be sure you’ll love it as much once you get it home? And how do you decorate around it if you’re not sure what you’re doing? We asked some design experts for advice.

(1) Don’t be afraid to go big. A single large piece—say, four by five feet—is more dramatic than several smaller ones. “A lot of people are afraid of where they’re going to put a big piece again if they move,” says Michael LaConte, owner of Homey (3656 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-0050), a North Center gallery that specializes in af-fordable art. But he thinks the virtues of size outweigh hypothetical problems down the road. “Have a great piece so that as you walk into the room, it sets the tone,” he advises. A big giclée print, which uses a digital process to re-create a painting or photograph with paint pigment rather than ink, is a way to do this without going into debt. Giclées generally go for a small fraction of the cost of the original and are available from many emerging artists. And unlike a poster, a giclée print on canvas or ragstock looks almost like the real thing.

(2) Add sculptural elements. Neglecting the three-dimensional will make a room feel flat. Sculpture can be anything from a piece you buy in a gallery to an antique urn filled with bamboo stalks. Think outside the box about placing sculpture around a room. “Create interest by bringing the eye up to the top of an armoire or a mantel or a bookcase,” advises Wilmette-based interior decorator Laura Soskin (Laura Soskin Design, 847-525-9955). “Don’t be afraid to lean art in a layered montage with a variety of sculptural pieces, such as lamps, vessels, or objects from nature.”


Photography: Peter Perrodin