Monday, July 30, 2007

Heres the thing


I've tried to understand it. I love going to art museums to check out different works. I love flipping through books or clicking through prints on Etsy. However, when it comes to buying art and putting it up in my own house I'm at a loss. I've just never found a piece of art that I looked at and thought, "I love that and would like to see it every day of my life". I just haven't.

The problem is that a lot of the walls in my new house are very large and very blank. Add to that the suggestion that I've recently read that family photos shouldn't really be displayed in main common rooms.

So here is the question.

How do I find art that I really like? What do you like? How do you go about picking what you really love?


TRS said...

Wow. You’re the first person I know who has the EXACT same issue with art that I do!
I have a wall in my living room that is glaringly bare – so much so that guests in my home have even said, upon minutes of their arrival, “You need something on this wall.”

No kidding? Thanks!

Anyway, I just can’t buy something that I don’t LOVE.
I also have a problem with art/ paintings of home still lifes. As in… a picture in the bathroom of an antique sink and a chair. Um. I’m in a bathroom. I have a real life example of a sink. Why do I need a picture of one? But that’s just me. Other people love this stuff.

So I have only two pieces of wall art - EVER!
One is a print of ‘the kiss at the hotel deville’ by Robert Denoiux (spelling?)
The other is a vintage Chicago travel poster from the days of rail travel.

Last week I found something at an antique store that I’m still thinking about – so I have to go get it if it’s still there. That’s the test. If you’re still thinking about it… you’ll probably want it on your wall.
So I do recommend scouring antique stores. There is one that I let get away! Pounce on it within a week or you’ll regret it.

And, I have a great resource for art for my boyfriend’s condo. I’m going to get it for him for Christmas (He saw it already loves it) Judging by what I know from your posts – I think it may fit yours and the Ear Doctor’s style. But I don’t want to put it out here for mass consumption – so that suddenly it’s not a unique idea.

Email me at and I’ll let you in on it.
Oh. And someone suggested to me... to scour ebay for original art. Artists sell some amazing stuff for CHEAP!

The Barkers said...

A lot of my "art" includes church paintings. Not just the generic Jesus pictures, but paintings that really move me, like one I have of Mary turned away, holding baby Jesus. I love it. Admittedly, I also have family pictures but, to me, it's a "family" room - I think it's appropriate. Good luck on finding new decor! It's always tough meshing two different styles, no matter how similar they are. You guys will figure it out, I'm sure.

poodle said...

in my last apartment, i bought a sheet of really fancy wrapping paper in a great design that matched my couch perfectly. i wrapped the ends around wooden dowels and hung them from a satin ribbon on the wall. if you can find the right pattern, it looks really good. i thought so, anyway.

k said...

landscape photography are my favorite. places i've been and want to go back to...

Kelly said...

I have never heard of not having family pictures in a common room. Maybe if you live in a huge house -they shouldn't be in your formal living room. But when there aren't many room options I think it is perfectly acceptable - and it makes a room more comfy and YOU.

Just my opinion!!

Calie Anderson, C.I.D. said...

Hi Katie, I have been thinking about your question and posted about it on my blog. Here is my link:

Take Care,

trs said...


Okay... here's an idea along the lines of what I'm going to get for my boyfriend's place.

My solution: vintage scenic posters

I have a different idea in mind for my BF ... but I'm willing to share this modification of the idea.

From what I glean of your personality on this blog... I figure you may have a flair for, or appreciation of vintage. The style is timeless - so you won't be lost in trendy. They are scenic - so that's easy for others to appreciate.

My tip is to choose a poster of a place that you love... maybe a mountain the two of you hiked together. Places you have lived. That sort of thing.
That way it's a reflection of your life together, it's colorful, it's meaningful - and it's a relatively inexpensive way to start an art collection.

And, as you move around and grow tired of them... they're still great for the basement or guest room or rec room.


jordan said...

Well, If there really isn't anything that you LOVE {that speaks to you} then just put up something that looks good in the space. We try to buy one investment piece of art a year. {We also eat out at a ridiculously expensive restaurant once a year and take at least one international trip a year.}

Family pictures shouldn't be {IMHO} in living rooms etc. I've always just had one or two small pictures in my bedroom. {I also think it is predictable when I walk in a newlyweds apartment and the walls are practically wallpapered in wedding photos.}

I feel the same way about religion related art. Most of it is crap anyway so just have a few small pieces that are really special in the bedroom or office.

I'm sort of opinionated on this subject. :) sorry.

Kara said...

Surprise, surprise--another opinion on design from me. From what I've seen on your blog, it seems like you and I have very similar taste, so I keep thinking I may have something to offer. . .

Go to and do a search for a Van Gogh called Almond Blossom. It's my current fave.

I also really like Poodle's idea. I've done something very similar, but with fabric. If you find a fabric or a paper that you love, put it up! Tip: you can buy a plain canvas at Michael's or similar, then just stretch a slightly larger piece of fabric over it and staple it on (or nail it if you don't have a strong enough stapler). It's a unique, interesting way to fill spaces on walls, rather than the (in my opinion) overused landscape photography. How many college apartments have you seen covered in Ansel Adams or the like? Snore.

I also have to chime in on the side of agreeing that family pics are not for common areas. . .mostly. I think you could have one (MAYBE two) of your gorgeous wedding photos in a conservative size in a lovely frame on a table in your living room and still be very stylish. But to have several multi frames of endless snapshots. . .eh. I say leave it for the photo albums. Looks very 1970's to me for some reason.

This is already way way too long, but one last tip. Did you ever take any art history classes? You may know just a bit about art movements and periods, at least enough to start some searches. My favorite way to do it is to go to, and at the top left it says Art Styles. Click on Fine Art. Then click on Movement. This will give you a pretty exhaustive list of the major art movements. Clicking on several of them and just browsing through the first few pages of each is a great way to figure out which movements you're into, and then you can spend more time looking at those sections.

I minored in art history at BYU, but I still didn't really know what I wanted to put in my house, so this is how I've been finding some things.

I'm also loving Asian art right now. When you're looking at that list of movements, click on Ukiyo-e Printmaking and do some browsing. Way cool!


trs said...

Good advice here.
I agree with Jordan on all counts....

and also with Kara that reserved use of wedding and family photos is fine.
But yeah... twenty pictures of the kids on swings and slides is not entrirely creative.

Good perspective Kara... that whole 'look, I like ansel adams" snore is the perfect word.

Katie said...

Oh, Kara, I really like Autumn Blossom! And bonus, it is the exact blue color I was hoping to use on that wall.

Everyone else, thanks for your advice! It has been really helpful.

Anonymous said...

I share your quandary! My husband and I are in our first home, and there's a plentitude of bare walls (sigh).
You don't know me, but I'm a fan of your blog, and I have a bit of a girl crush on your style! That said, here's my two cents:

I have seen some really lovely arrangements done in shadow boxes. By arranging found items, ticket stubs, heirlooms, etc, you can create a personalized, classy statement. Pottery Barn has some nice basic versions, and they can be changed up by painting the frame or lining the back with a different fabric.

I don't entirely agree with eliminating all family photos from the main space. Your engagement/wedding photos have some exquisite, classy images! I think you could bend those Domino rules with a little moxie and still not veer into the plastering-my-space-with-tacky-snapshots realm. A few carefully selected, judiciously placed/matted/framed black and white shots on a ledge shelf (or two) make a nice statement.

One of my favorite options is to display a series of beautiful detail shots of something important to you. For example, I had some close-up professional pics taken of my violin and hands at different angles. Think of your hobbies, interests, loves, and go from there. Good luck feathering your nest!
--Another Katie in Denver

Courtney said...

No family photos? But... I LOVE family photos.