Decorating a new home can be a lot like one big endless puzzle. There are countless moving parts, all of which are equally important – and, if you’re not a pro, equally confusing. Yet while many aspects will naturally fall into place, there is one detail that often presents more of a challenge. If you guessed from the illustrations, you would be right. Of course, it looks like you could just throw it at the walls at the end and be done. However, choosing art for a new space is more difficult than it first appears.
In fact, you might encounter many challenges in this scenario that might not be obvious. For instance, when should you incorporate art into a space – before decorating or after? How do I know which pieces to bring back from a previous collection? How to start a new collection if you don’t already have one? And where do you post everything once you have it?
You get the picture (no pun intended): there’s more to adding artwork to your new home (and finding pieces for it) than meets the eye. And if you just realized you need help, you’re in luck. TZR recently caught up with Chelsea Neman Nassib, co-founder of online art store Tappan, for advice. Not only does she have years of experience in the art industry, but she is also redoing her own space. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more credible source on the subject, and his tips and tricks back it up. Read on to find out what she has to say and get ready to start filling your new space like a pro in no time.
Find your style
Of course, you may already have a whole collection of artwork. However, if you’re moving into your first space or you’ve never paid attention to decorating before, you may be starting fresh. And in this case, you have to discover your style when looking for new pieces.
Yes, that sounds like a daunting task. But Nassib actually breaks down a potential process for this in a very simple way. “Basically, start looking,” she tells TZR on Zoom. Essentially, she continues, it’s kind of like fashion: you can go the traditional route and buy what everyone else is buying. But what you really want to do is create your own unique style. “So going to museums, going to galleries, looking online and figuring out what you like and what you don’t like is the first step.”
Then, she says, find galleries or trusted spaces to buy, ask lots of questions about what you like, and go for it. “Buy what you can afford,” she continues. “Buy what makes sense to you and just start because it’s great fun and you get a good sense of who you are over time.”
Start with the artwork
Honestly, basing an entire room on artwork seems like kind of a wild move, especially if you don’t have a lot of collection yet. Still, Nassib says that for many spaces, this approach may actually make the most sense. She gives an example of a scenario to illustrate her point.
“Let’s say you’re upholstering a sofa and you have 37 different shades of blue to choose from and it’s so hard to choose. Then you finally do, and now you’re stuck trying to find some artwork to finish the piece. Whereas if you flipped it over and chose a paint first, [that] gives you your palette, and you can make your decisions from there. The piece becomes so unique and cohesive because the painting has given you its palette.
She notes, of course, that this may not always be the case. With more functional rooms, such as a kitchen, there are sometimes no opportunities to display large works of art, and its other elements dictate the design. In this case, your collected coins will likely come later – and they’re a way to add little touches of personality at the end.
Ask for help
It’s been established that finding the art you love and incorporating it into a space isn’t always easy. And while Nassib’s advice can help, it’s also important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. “Art is one of those things where people really need that back and forth to help them understand what they love about something, why they love it, and to see more of what they love,” she explains. “So I think it’s a great idea to bring in a friend who’s into the arts or someone you trust to have that dialogue.” Of course, that could be a creative in your life or a professional designer – it all depends on your needs, who you feel comfortable with, and your budget. You can also check out resources on websites like Tappan to help you with your process; Nassib cites the brand’s “Art Style Quiz” as a free tool to help you find out what you like.
With all of this advice in mind, Nassib always notes that ultimately the art in your home is an expression of your individuality – not everyone’s. “I think the big takeaway is don’t get nervous and go for it. Have fun, because [this process] should be something exciting,” she says. “You learn about the artists, you discover new things, then you put [your pieces] and they should be inspiring and make you happy. So choose what you want, hang things high or low, and base an entire room on your artwork – or not. There may be traditional “guidelines”, but in reality there are no rules. “If you’re going to put something in a corner touching the ceiling because you’re funky like that, that’s cool,” Nassib says.
Do you feel inspired? Shop some artists Nassib likes (as well as some of Tappan’s favorite TZR pieces), ahead.