above: “Rosy Red” by Ronnie Gold at Rowayton Arts Center middle
The most exquisite furniture, window treatments and lush carpets won’t make a house a home if your walls are naked. But finding the right pieces to display in your own home can be confusing and intimidating. We spoke with some of the best local art merchants to hear their tips on how to make the process a little more fun and rewarding.
“It doesn’t make any difference if you have the shabbiest or the most expensive furniture in your home,” Sandy Pelletier of Sorelle Gallery Fine Art in New Canaan explains. “The first thing people look at are the walls. If there is nothing there, the room fails.”
“When you make a commitment to design and architecture, you can’t quit at the walls,” adds Heather Gaudio of Heather Gaudio Fine Art in New Canaan. “Art makes all the difference in how you feel in your home,” she says. “Art is an investment in culture, creativity and yourself. But it takes time. In many cases people need to discover their aesthetic and what brings them joy,” she adds.
THE INTIMIDATION FACTOR
Gaudio says she’s still intimidated by some New York galleries, where you can walk in and be ignored. “That doesn’t happen here,” she says. “We treat everyone who walks through our doors with kindness and respect. We talk to them, answer any of their questions, and find out how comfortable they are with art.”
In Gaudio’s experience, she said that many people don’t trust themselves or their instincts when it comes to art and find it easier to ask a designer to fill their walls. “Art is intended to be so much more than having someone pick it out for you,” she says.
Tom Geary of the Geary Gallery in Darien suggests starting on a gallery’s website, since technology has made it so easy to post a representation of their artists’ works online. “If customers like what they see on a website, then they can come into the gallery and look around. It’s a great starting point and can save so much time.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT STYLE
Jane Jansen Seymour, marketing director at the Rowayton Arts Center, says that people are leaving behind cookie-cutter homes of recent decades, instead swinging back to mixing things up, and that includes the artwork they choose.
“Many people bring photos of art they have in their home, and ask us to find something that complements it,” she says.
For Geary, it’s about selecting art that makes you feel good. “Abstract art is big, but many people find it hard to relate to abstract. In that case, they could look at a landscape or cityscape from a city they love that reminds them of a trip.”
TO MATCH OR NOT TO MATCH
Should your art match the style of your home? “Not necessarily,” says Pelletier. “It depends on the client and their level of confidence in what they love and want.” She says that most clients need guidance if their home is traditional and they want to modernize it a bit with their art.
“The work may have a look of a landscape but is abstracted. Or can be very representational but the color pallet is bright and modern,” Pelletier explains. “I try to mix this in with their other works and furnishings for continuity in color palate.”
ART BUYING 101
“It is our job to help and to teach,” says Sandy Pelletier of Sorelle Gallery in New Canaan. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions about the artist, how they think it can look in your home or even why the price is what it is.
MIX IT UP
If your home is monochromatic, a pop of color can be really impactful. Heather Gaudio suggests introducing an eclectic mix of prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture to bring the house to life, exactly what she recently executed at a client’s home. “We used different colors, different styles, integrating abstract with traditional,” she says.
TRY IT OUT
Some galleries, like Sorelle, will allow you to take an art piece home and live with it for a bit before you take the plunge. It’s helpful to see the work in your space and in the proper lighting to ensure it will work well in your home.
The purpose of a frame is simply to finish the piece. You should always notice the artwork, not the frame it’s in, says Tom Geary of the Geary Gallery in Darien. His usual choice for fine art is a floater frame that provides the illusion of the art floating inside the picture frame without touching it, creating a sense of three-dimensional depth in the overall display.