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The Art of Personality in Wall Decor

Setting the tone of a space and showcasing a client’s identity can be achieved through carefully selected wall decor.  

Amy McIntosh
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“Switching up color schemes and subjects in wall art can make a huge impact in a fast, easy way,” says Parargon’s Sarah Lang. Florals and botanicals, for instance, can introduce nature to the indoors.

The walls of a home are a blank canvas with limitless possibilities. Today’s wall decor options run the gamut in terms of pricing, style, size, color and more to fit every client’s budget and aesthetic. With so many options available, it can sometimes be difficult to help clients make selections. But wall decor is also one of the most effective ways to showcase a client or customer’s taste and personality. 

“The role of a designer has changed dramatically,” says Wendy Duff, Manager of Business and Development for Celadon Art. “It once was whatever they said or chose, their clients complied, even if it had nothing to do with their individual taste, wants or needs. Today it is a much different environment, with clients being very involved in their designer’s decisions and incorporating their family’s personalities into the overall design. Artwork is becoming more about personal taste while creating a home, rather than a showcase.”

This emphasis on personality may be what’s contributing to the trend of mixing styles either across one wall or between frame and art.

“We are seeing trend patterns of bold colors introduced in perhaps unexpected ways,” says Sarah Lang, Product Designer and Account Manager for Paragon. “Pairing either traditional subject matter with brave, saturated colors or even a classic frame with abstract art. Our customers are seeking a balance between refreshingly modern and timeless classic.”

Duff also notes a mix of styles trending, particularly on gallery walls. Other trends she notes all revolve around a theme of calm. Collages that layer multimedia and natural materials evoke a peaceful and organic feeling while capturing interest. The female figure has made a comeback, eliciting a feeling of calmness, fluidity and sensuousness. 

“Soft, curved and round shapes bring a calmness to the angular and severe construction we are currently seeing in condos and loft areas,” she adds. “Bringing the outside in has become a major trend with botanicals, natural elements and even scenes with lush greenery and nature bring you to a beautiful calmness while enjoying the artwork.”

Setting the Mood

Clients without the time, budget or need for a full home or room redesign can opt to swap out decorative items to quickly refresh a space. The items that adorn the walls can change the feel of a room, and with more people spending time at home, a mood change could be just what they need. The home office, for example, is a room that can evoke a number of feelings, any of which can be complemented with wall decor, depending on what mood the home office worker wants to set. 

Celadon’s Wendy Duff notes a trend in modern takes on historical art, like in this Georges Braque-inspired piece that makes use of negative space to convey the shape of birds.

“As more and more people are working from home, the home office has become a very important part of our living environment,” Duff says. “Becoming permanent, it determines your own practical space mixed with personal style. Whether it is family photos, or images that make you feel comfortable, inspired, uplifting or calm, it is a space that is yours.”

Lang suggests the wall art in a home office helps to set the tone for the one’s workday, so a client or customer might opt for a calming landscape or a more exciting contemporary graphic, depending on the nature of their work and their disposition.

Elsewhere in the home, as the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic linger and winter months approach, families will likely find themselves spending more time indoors. The wall decor choices will set the tone for the rest of the home as well. 

“Sometimes the right piece of art can spark the design of the room, or it can be the perfect finish,” Lang says. “Art is personal and subjective in that it sets the tone for the space and the homeowner. It has the ability to transport you anywhere in the world while still safe at home.”

The Power of Decor

In a recent Furniture, Lighting & Decor virtual panel, designers and retailers discussed the power of home decor in making a design pop. Kristi Hopper, designer and founder of Kristi Hopper Designs, in Dallas, said artwork  always poses a challenge for her.

“Artwork for me as a designer is the hardest category because it’s very personal,” she said. “It should tell your story. It shouldn’t just be things you hang on the wall.”

For Stephanie James, half of the duo behind Allen and James Interior Design, based in High Point, NC, the pop of color artwork can bring to a space is the most exciting part. 

“I love to pop color out with art. I think art speaks to everyone differently. I love color in my art and I think that’s a nice way to add that splash of color. ... I like big art in small spaces. I think it can be pretty dynamic. Traditional art versus modern or abstract — I just love art.”

She and her partner Patti James bring this passion and enthusiasm for art to the retail component of their business as well. James said they stock the store with pieces they personally love, and customers don’t hesitate to  purchase it. 

“They’re following us as designers for a reason because they like our eye, our style, so we just buy things that we love and typically it ends up moving,” she said. “I just buy every day what I like and keep it very layered.”

Encouraging clients to display their personalities on their walls can also mean stepping away from the market showrooms with mass-produced pieces and encouraging clients to get their art elsewhere. 

“I have one client, I can’t buy their art because they say, ‘We’re going to buy art when we travel,’” Hopper said. “I love that. Who can top that? That’s what they should be doing. I’ll frame it for them when they get it here and place it in the right spot, but then the home is yours.”

James said she encourages her clients, particularly the younger ones, to invest in original pieces.

“When you really love it, you’re going to carry it through your life,” she said. “I want them to  make an investment in their art because I think art really shows a lot of the dynamics of a room.”

Wall art is just one component of the overall home decor package, and when combined with the other accessories, it helps complete the overall look and feel of a space. 

“At the end of the day your linens are all going to look the same,” James said, “but when you add that art and accessorization, when you get the lighting and everything right, that’s the jewelry in the room that’s going to make it elevate to a whole different level for our clients.” 

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