Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
No matter how beautiful, purposeful, or elevated your home design is, no space feels complete without artwork. It’s what makes your home feel truly personal, and it’s often the first thing people notice when they enter a room.
While decorating your walls—and starting an art collection—may seem like a daunting task, zeroing in on what you like is easier than you think. Here’s how to choose the right artwork for your home.
Artwork is tricky because it’s so personal, and there’s usually no crossover between design aesthetic and taste in art, which is interesting. Most of the work is figuring out what you respond to: color versus black and white, mixed media or paint versus photography. A lot of people don’t know the answer until they start educating themselves.
If you have the means, hiring an art consultant is a great way to go—they can help you hone in on particular artists and styles that appeal to you, then they’ll source it for you directly from a gallery. If you don’t have a huge budget, you can develop your own taste by going to art fairs, finding art you like, asking questions, and even buying pieces directly.
If you find a few artists that you like, the galleries that represent them often carry more artists with similar styles, and they can help you source similar pieces. We’ve had a lot of success with that. Galleries tend to participate in art shows and have their finger on the pulse, so they know what’s out there.
Once you’ve found an artist you like, start with their smaller pieces until you can afford the bigger ones. Go to a midrange gallery that doesn’t have majorly established artists. Sometimes bigger galleries do represent up-and-coming artists, so they’ll have a range of options. Just know that all art is priced by size, so that can be tricky in terms of budget.
One option is to commission an installation—I’ve found most artists are open to it, especially up-and-coming ones. It’s great for up staircases or on a wall that’s not perfectly rectangular. You can give the artist a color palette and some inspiration, and they’ll create something one-of-a-kind. It doesn’t always have to be framed art.
People love to incorporate found objects. We’ve hung everything from vintage flags to hand-painted paddles and surfboards to papier mâché animals. Think whimsical, antique-type stuff.
Definitely. We do a lot of family photo walls. The key to making it look cohesive is choosing all black-and-white or all color photos, then printing them in sizes ranging from 3×5 to 16×20, with an even distribution of horizontal and vertical. We pick one color for the mats but vary the size, then pick four to five frames that look good together. That way, it’s the same color story with matting and frames, but there’s enough variation in size and shape.
If you want a really large-scale piece, you can blow up and frame one of your own photos. We’ve had clients do that with photos they’ve taken on vacation or safari, and it looks amazing. You don’t have to spend a ton of money—mixing your own photography with fine art and found objects makes your space feel much more personal.
Starting small is a great way to build a collection.