Art is the icing on any interiors cake. It adds texture, enriches a space and can even feed the soul, if it’s a piece that you love. In the right hands it can also open doors to new design directions.
There’s a whole world out there to explore, and while the purists will come up in a rash at the idea of your art toning, or even matching your interior, it is the way a lot of people like to build their look at home.
While some of Róisín Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design's clients are collectors she says all value what her firm can bring to the works by way of placement within the home. In some instances like her Bushfield property, shown, some of the works are framed by joinery.
“If clients are choosing artworks we will give them a steer on scale and ask them how they want to feel in that space. If they’re looking to reimagine an existing collection, consideration should be given to the pieces at the time of design, which is also when the relevant lighting schemes should be planned,” she counsels.
Jacqueline Rooney has turned matching furniture to her artworks into a successful career. She trained and worked as an art teacher and studied interior design, a subject that she loved, at night.
Five years ago she handed in her notice and has been growing a following since, thanks to a shout-out by Jay Blades, beloved presenter of the BBC’s The Repair Shop. He got in touch to see if she would collaborate with him on two upcycled chairs, commissioning her to print two of her artworks onto velvet, which he upholstered the chairs with.
It garnered her enough attention to open a gallery in Rostrevor, Co Down, last summer. Instead of a white box space it's been painted in Farrow & Ball's dark and moody Stiffkey Blue, "so it feels homey", she explains. Her prints start from about €25 while the original framed works range from about €120 to €3,400.
As well as selling Jay Blades pieces, she upholsters her own furniture with her own designs, as you can see in these wingback armchairs which cost about €1,710 each.
Sinead Moore of Interiors Atelier believes your art should be a mix of things that are relevant to you and that you love, a modus operandi she carries into her showhouse work. For this project, Brennanstown Wood, in Foxrock, Dublin 18 for Park Developments, framed prints of monochrome line drawings hang on the bespoke-built bookcases in the living room.
She bought these from Poster Store for a cost of about €11 each, before framing and affixing them to cover up any gaps. “Not everyone has large book collections,” she explains.
As well as the console table, €1,360, matching sofas, €2,400 each, coffee tables, €1,050 each, and demi-lune tables, €860 each, she hung a work by Nick Veasy, one of his X-ray series of photographs, that she bought from the V&A Museum in London and framed.
Museum shops can be great places to buy affordable art and prints with many original pieces also for sale. She got a series of “beautiful” watercolours from the National Gallery. The Hugh Lane sells original works and Graphic Studio Dublin represents a wonderfully eclectic range of original art works that are relatively affordable. Some of the National Gallery’s collection is available to order in bespoke format prints too.
Interior designers LyonsKelly, Maria MacVeigh, Kingston Lafferty Design and Suzie McAdam Design, all use artworks from a wide range of Solomon Gallery artists in their projects, says Tara Murphy, owner of the gallery.
“They often borrow paintings and sculpture for photo shoots and show homes. Interior designers also advise their clients to buy as well, usually asking us to send out a selection to try out in the home or office just as a project is reaching completion.”
She says some of their preferred artists include Leah Beggs, Melissa O’Faherty, Margo Banks, Clea van der Grijn (who got her first big break with a commission for a series of works for the original design of the Morrisson Hotel by John Rocha, when it opened in 1999), and Tom Climent, whose recent show (ends June 2nd) was a complete sell-out. Architect Declan O’Donnell is a fan and has his work in his own home.
Framing is an essential part of the offer.
Hang Tough Contemporary is a gallery and framers all rolled into one and isn't afraid of creating eye-catching surrounds to help bring out a colour in an artwork. Proprietor Michael Rubio Hennigan is a fan of the work of Lola Donoghue, the aforementioned Climent and Robyn Carey.
Silk screen printing, a favourite of Andy Warhol, is another technique that can really help make a room pop. Julian Chichester’s range is sold framed within two pieces of acrylic and cost about €202 each. The Copper House Gallery can also do this.
Your budget may not stretch to owning a Picasso or a Miro but in some instances you can purchase a decorative art version of some of these famous works. Dublin-based online store Inreda Design Shop sells French textiles and tapestries by Jules Pansu. These include a range of Picasso works on 45cm square cushion covers from €120, and tapestries by the Picasso and Miro. Respectively these start from €1,698 for Le Rêve and €2,895 for Pour Pilar de tout Coeur.
UK-based Surface View can supply architectural prints from John Soame's museum, the V&A and the Royal Academy in bespoke wall mural sizes. Prices start at about €180 per sq metre.
Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers, from the National Gallery Archive, can also be printed onto soft furnishings such as a window blind, and cost from about €225.
Irish rug company Ceadogan sells works by modernist Mainie Jellet, print maker James Earley and ceramicist Andrew Luddick, to name but a few. These can hang like tapestries from the wall or be positioned underfoot - either way the textiles also help deaden sound in big open plan spaces. Artist Anne Harrington Rees makes paper wall-hangings featuring Irish flora such as fuschsia and foxgloves that cost from about €130.
Illustration is another way bring art in an affordable way. You can do this through stained glass panels. Bianca Divito’s abstract stain glass panels look great in windows and door panels and will wash a room in their colours. A very cost-effective way to try this idea before you invest is to install some window film to see if you like the effect. UK-based Purlfrost sells a gorgeous range of customisable designs with prices starting from about €50. Annabel Langrish’s drawings inform her cushion and ceramic designs and feature Irish wildlife. Cushions start from €39 with her graphic seabird collection costing less. Her raku fish ceramic wall hangings start from €28.