Style at home: Artwork makes a house your home

  • Artwork is perhaps the most important design element in a room. It makes the space uniquely yours. Mary Carol Garrity—TNS

  • Artwork can make a home feel like it’s been in the family for generations. Mary Carol Garrity—TNS

  • As soon as the artwork goes up, it feels like a home. Mary Carol Garrity—TNS

Tribune News Service
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Settling into our cottage has been a long and languid journey. It started with the Great Purge, when Dan and I let go of many of the furnishings that filled our larger home in Atchison, Kansas. Because our cottage is so small, we could only keep the things we loved most. For Dan, it was all those books. For me, it was artwork (and dishes, but that's a story for another day).

Even though I had miles less wall space in the cottage, I was determined to squeeze in every piece of art I held dear. To Dan's astonishment, I did it. In my mind, there was never any doubt. Because I know that art is what makes a house feel like a home, gives it its voice.

I've had fun working with Dillon, the gifted artwork display designer at Nell Hill's, to see my old favorites in brand-new ways. Where could I hang my huge canvasses, the ones that had filled my two-story entry and lofty rooms, so they didn't overwhelm the cottage's snug spaces? How could I mix up my groupings, putting pieces together with new partners, instead of just replicating the montages I loved in my old house? How could I squeeze in all these pieces without making the spaces visually chaotic? Dillon was a master at taking my vision and making it a reality.

As we decorate, room by room, it's the artwork that has made all the difference. Once the walls were covered in art, it became a home.

My affair with artwork began when I was just beginning my career. When I had a little money saved up, I bought art. Through the years, I upgraded my pieces and added to my collection. It's made all the difference in my homes. And, that's one of the biggest pieces of decorating advice I give when people ask me to help style their homes: Don't scrimp on the artwork. You may have the most beautiful furnishings in the world, but your home isn't finished — doesn't have its soul — until the walls are filled with artwork that brings you joy.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com .