If you are a renter like me, you are unlikely to be lugging around an authentic coat of arms or a suit of armor as heirloom art. What if you want to decorate your home in a lightweight, funkier way than the usual wall art? After visiting museums this week with Afghan-Italian embroidery, European silver, and African barkcloth, I have some fresh ideas to share for home decor art.
Here are my 5 Uncommon Tips for Displaying Art at Home:
1. Consider carvings. Home accessories such as carved wood and soapstone can be so much more than knick knacks. Select items that have meaning to you. Like me you are not likely to purchase an 18th-century carved Italian door even at architectural salvage, but you might be interested in buying a carved panel from a contemporary local artist. For example, I’ve seen many sculptures by Venice Beach artists that would make great conversational art pieces for the home.
2. Navigate a non-Western culture. Paul Gaugin and Vincent Van Gogh were studio-mates for a time. Did you know they shared a love for Japanese woodblock prints? Yes, it’s true. Consider fan art by the two. My favorite is Gaugin’s Design for a Fan: Breton Shepherd Boy(1888) on silk.
In this case, fan art refers to an actual fan rather than a sentient admirer. This means Western scenes painted to fit the shape of an Eastern-style fan. You can also learn about African headdresses and South American drinking vessels. None of these art pieces you choose for your home need to be expensive. Find inexpensive copies and miniatures of displays that you love. Research the religious or symbolic meaning of such art because displaying in your apartment to avoid offending visitors.
3. Treat yourself to texture. Handwoven paper, pressed pulp, and upcycled cloth can be lovely for framing. Why not showcase white on white texture? Why not hang embroidered veils, lace shawls or vibrant traditional costumes on a wooden dowel? If you have any doubt about what the fingers can “see”, check out painter Carvaggio’s attention to the hands of his subjects.
Though jacquard and chintz are feminine, you have many manly options as well. You can even consider framing a piece of tweed for a man cave. French nails used for monograms are another masculine example.
House Beautiful 1000 Sensational Makeovers suggests textures such as rich leather and relief wall sculpture. Treat your home art in the way museums display artifacts. For an example, see the Central African barkcloth display at the UCLA Fowler Museum. My favorite pattern there is the “frog-hip” tattoo pattern on barkcloth. Discover inexpensive alternatives such as traditional patterns in fabrics and throw blankets as art for your home.
4. Target Tin. Decorative tin inserts for kitchen cabinet frames add funkiness at a low cost. If you want to spend more, embossed tin ceilings provide art for home decor with a vintage flair.
5. Nurture Nature. The Wall Street Journal featured “living walls” earlier this summer. These are modular, stackable living plants that decorate your interior. If such an interior garden will make you sneeze, you can even fool the eye with pollen-free, artificial flowering branches placed in a dust-free, faux plaster urn.