How To Style Your Eclectic Collection

Is it all too different to work? Should I just start again?

If you’re anything like us here at the Vernissage Art team, you’ve been collecting artworks over many years in a somewhat haphazard, I-love-it-and-don’t-want-to-leave-without-it kind of way. And that’s great! It means every piece you own has a story, a sentimental connection and was bought with love. Problem is, you now have an assortment of styles, colours, themes, frames, sizes… Yes, it’s tricky, but it is also what makes your house a home - that cosy, lived-in feeling, sharing memories and journeys, rather than the often cold feeling of the perfectly styled home where everything matches yet lacks personal connection. But can your random collection of treasured art pieces ever work together? We have a few tricks up our sleeve to pull your mixed bag of goodies together.

Grouping

Our first trick is to group you artworks. Some artworks may seem to fit in obvious groups when they were bought on the same foreign holiday for example, but as you’ll see later they also can fall into different categories and working out (and remembering) which category to place it into for best styling results can be tricky. Our suggestion is to take photos of your artworks and then place these photos into different files with relevant headings such as a colour, art style, size, frame type etc. If you are a tech-wizard you could import the photos into a program like Photoshop and see how they work together, and if you are device-savvy you can use apps like WallPicture to do the same. In this process you might find you have one or two artworks that fall into almost all of your categories - this is good information to have so you can work out in which situation they will be suited best. Once you have your artworks grouped you can look back to these files and pick out the ones that work best as you go through the rest of the tips.

Zoning

In the modern home with open-plan living this can be tricky, but we still have zones: living zone, dining zone, kitchen and sometimes study, meals and library zones. Each of your zones can be differentiated with your artworks, however as it is all still within view the idea is to create vignettes with an overall cohesion. Try to keep a flow through the room as your gaze sweeps over the different zones. You might have four or five different zones to work with, so maintaining a common theme such as colour can really help. For your vastly different artworks the easiest way to make an eclectic collection work together is to simply not have them together! You can keep them entirely seperate with a different style for each different room, or you can try to draw them all together throughout the house through your decor styling.

Decor Styling

This doesn’t have to mean you replace your lounges to make the room work, rather, take in the scene you already have (without any artworks in it) and work out: your suitable hanging spaces; the size of each available space; the colours present in the room. Try to have a good mix of textures: lots of works behind glass with tiled floors and metal coffee tables can be cold and stark. See if you can blend in some canvas pieces or else find soft furnishings to bring warmth into the space. Lastly you might also consider what items in the room are negotiable, such as cushions and rugs as these can be what really pulls a room together if chosen carefully to match the new styling of the room. Decide which group of artworks fits best in the room and then help it all to settle with those key decor pieces. It might be the time to research vases, lamps, throws etc that match the colours in the artworks, and the finishing flourish: flowers - always a fresh and homely way to make a space come alive.

Art Salon Style

This is also sometimes referred to as a ‘cluster hang’ or a ‘gallery wall’. The term salon refers to the French art academies who would show the works of many artists in exhibitions (salons) in the one space, meaning that the whole wall would be covered in artworks. Nowadays, the salon style is a popular way to bring together varied artworks, particularly smaller pieces that can’t stand by themselves in an open wall. For a salon style hang we suggest laying your artworks together on the floor to see what works (unless you are that tech-wizard or device-savvy individual we talked about earlier, in which case lucky-you, your knees thank you). Start with the largest pieces and work your way down to the smallest. Try to tuck some smaller pieces between other pieces to avoid having all of your little ones floating on the outer edges. Allow some breathing room between each piece but don’t let them drift too far apart or else you’ll lose the ‘cluster’ effect. Don’t try for perfection or filling every little gap - the joy is in the randomness and eclecticism, so go with it! Something else to consider is the framing of your artworks. Adding or changing the frames of your pieces can make a huge difference to how the collection as a whole works together. We suggest not having all of your pieces in exactly the same type of frame (this can look a bit forced and dull), but if you limit the palette to two or three colours (for example natural timber and black) you start to see the pieces connecting to each other. Again, styling with key decor pieces that connect the colours from your artworks will bring cohesion to your salon style wall.

I’m Not Sure It’s Working

Sadly, this can happen, so here are our suggestions. One: put the artworks that you can’t make work away for now. Perhaps it’s just not the right time in your stylistic journey for them. It doesn’t mean they were poor choices or they aren’t loved, simply that our homes reflect our current tastes and decor trends, and there will likely be a time in the future when you change it all up again and can prioritise those art pieces with new styling and decor. Two: let the professionals at it. A stylist will be able to help you shape your home with your current key pieces and find decor selections to bind it all. Vernissage Art is also happy to help you with your collection - we are lucky enough to have a tech-wizard in our team who can help create groups, salon style arrangements and can digitally place artworks into a photo of your room.

So have a go! Get critical, get creative, go shopping (the online world is a wonderland!). Remember that the goal is to bring together your life’s journey of art-memories, not to turn your house into an architectural photoshoot. If you can look around your home and smile, you’ve nailed it.