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Choosing Art for Tricky Spaces

Interior designer Britany Zimmerman

Sometimes clients find a piece of art they love, but then question if it will work for their space. I always tell them that if you truly love it you will find a way to make it work in your home. However, I know it's not always as straightforward as that. Tricky situations can come up like a formal room with lots of architectural details, or maybe the room has a gorgeous coastal view and demands art that compliments the setting. Sometimes you need an expert eye to steer you in the right direction

I recently spoke with designer Brittany Zimmerman of Bleu Bee Designs for my interview series "When Artists Drink Cocktails." Brittany started her company in 2019 and helps her clients by marrying their unique personalities, and lifestyles with her fresh, traditional style. Here are just a few tips she offered to those selecting art for special scenarios:

  • Does your room have many symmetrical windows, doorways, or molding? "It’s best to continue the symmetry and balance with accessories and art. A simple shape in the work itself and the framing allows the art to be a statement among all of the paired items. An example of this would be in a formal living space that has 2 facing sofas, with 2 or 4 armchairs, pairs of end tables and lamps, I would select art in a pairing that could flank either side of a fireplace."

  • Does the room have rich architectural details? "Allow the art to play off of the formal feel of the architecture by using an arched doorway to “frame” the art in an adjacent room. You could also select a work of art whose lines mimic that of the architecture, perhaps hanging it in a curved foyer or centered on the millwork of a built-in bookcase. It’s important to note though, it’s also sometimes best to know when not to add anything else and allow the architecture to BE the art."

  • What about a room layered with multiple colors and patterned fabrics? "It’s best to keep your art selections minimalist and abstract. The eye always needs a place to rest, and among the pattern of drapery and upholstered furniture, art can be the respite. Types of art best for busy colorful rooms would be a monochromatic plaster relief work, or a framed natural element, such as a dried palm frond or fan coral in a neutral mat and frame."

  • What about a room with a more serious or sophisticated feel like one with dark hues or expansive millwork? "When working in this design, we prefer to liven up the space with bold art in a free-flowing form. It’s all about creating a sense of balance and whimsy to an otherwise serious space."

  • For those who love a little whimsey, how can you weave fun, little surprises into your room? "Art is an excellent way to add an element of surprise to a space. This could be through hand-painted murals, wallpaper panels or artisan tile work. However, you choose to inject a pop of fun, be sure to tie it in with other elements in your décor that coordinate with the style of the home."

  • How do you incorporate 3-D art like a functional piece? "Often a room simply needs an artistic element to be the only art in the space. Perfect examples of this would be using a chandelier crafted from oyster shells, or woven sweet grass or tobacco baskets on a wall, maybe it’s a hand-carved mirror or pressed botanicals. Recently we saw a gorgeous twisty tree root repurposed into a chandelier - who needs more art with a piece like that?"

Brittany was full of great advice and gave me a few things to consider for my home. She also offers e-design services that allow her to help anyone no matter where they are located. If you want advice for your home, learn more about her services here. And when it comes time to place the art, remember that I'm available to create a custom piece that will perfectly complement your design.

If you want to find the perfect piece of art to elevate your favorite space, then check out my online gallery.

Small landscape painting on a shelf


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