A conversation on art, style and how to curate a gallery wall in celebration of Rachel’s new book, Art at Home
Having been lucky enough to work with Rachel Loos for many years, we have always admired Rachel’s incredible eye for design. As a celebrated interiors writer and editor, she has had a unique insight into beautiful homes across the globe and the very best that the interiors world has to offer. Sharing our love of art and its impact on adding personality to a space, we were excited to hear about Rachel’s new book, Art at Home.
Traditionally a subject that could be considered intimidating, in Art at Home, Rachel has created a handy guide for anyone looking to introduce more art to their walls. So, whether you’re an art connoisseur or a beginner, this book is for you. With chapters on how to start a collection, how to hang art and inspiration for finding unusual and affordable alternatives to traditional prints/paintings, Art at Home is our new go-to guide on the subject. So, grab a cup of tea and keep reading to discover expert advice from Rachel and a sneak peek at some of the inspirational, creative homes featured in the book.
You can also order a copy here.
The London home of Catherine Ashton of @bo_decor, photo by Dan Duchars
1. Let’s start at the very beginning, tell us all about yourself and your new book Art at Home
I am a freelance writer, specialising in design and interiors. Many moons ago I was editor of ELLE Decoration but left that job to live in France. Back in the UK now, I write for lots of different publications including Grazia where I am lifestyle editor.
Art at Home is my first book (very excited!). It’s a guidebook for people who want to style their home with art but are not sure how to begin or need some guidance and inspiration on how to do it. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a book like it out there – so wrote one myself!
My home is a nothing fancy – a new build house that is easy to look after. In France, I renovated an Art Deco manor house and then turned an ancient barn into a family home and after that I was done with old buildings! My personal interior style is a mix of old and new with pops of colour. My hallway ceiling is gold. My family weren’t sure when I suggested it, but I went ahead anyway, and now they all like it – or say they do!
The art in my home has been collected over time and the work is always something I loved when I saw it – one of my favourites is a lithograph bought in Mexico. My husband and I bought a Lowry-style painting in the Lanes in Brighton many years ago; the seller tried to convince us it might be real but although we knew it wasn’t, we bought it anyway because we really liked the painting. We call it the Flowery – Fake Lowry!
Photo courtesy of Partnership Editions/Artists: Camilla Perkins, Venetia Berry, Emily Forgot, Mafalda Vasconcelos, Adriana Jaros, Rebecca Sammon/Photography: Alicia Waite
3. As an interiors editor, you have worked on some amazing magazines that we often turn to when looking for inspiration with decorating our homes. Where do you find inspiration for decorating your own home?
I have always looked at magazines for inspiration – there is something luxurious about pictures on glossy pages, and seeing real people’s homes that are full of ideas is always inspiring. I see lots of books, too, and I love ones that show you how to do those forgotten areas of the house or put things together. Of course, now there’s social media - I particularly attracted to the renovation accounts as I love a before and after shot.
4. In your book Art at Home, you explore how art can introduce personality to the home. What advice would you have for anyone looking to start exploring art on the walls of their home?
Art is a bit like fashion and people can be very sniffy about good taste/bad taste, what’s in/what’s out. But when choosing art for the home, always remember that it doesn’t matter if you love an artwork and someone else doesn’t. The point about art is that a piece should connect to you in some way, whether it’s the colours in it, or it reminds you of a favourite place, or you like the words in it… If someone else doesn’t feel the same way, it simply means it doesn’t connect with them.
Left image: The home of content creator/author/speaker Natalie Lee of @stylemesunday, photo by Chris Tubbs | Right image: The family home of Sarah Corbett-Winder, photo by Chris Tubbs
5. We love how you have created a guide to introducing art to each room of the house. What advice do you have for introducing art to a living space as opposed to a bedroom?
There are no rules about what art should be in which room, but it can help to think about how you use a room and want it to feel and match the style of art to it. The living room, for example, can be used in many ways so decide how you want it to feel – if you wanted it to be relaxing, then choose a soothing abstract artwork or a peaceful landscape. If you want it to feel energetic and lively, then bolder colours and graphic prints will do that. You could even include art that adds a touch of playfulness. On the other hand, a bedroom has a clear purpose - to get a good night’s sleep so avoid loud artworks that fill the room with energy. It is a private space, though, so it’s a great place to display art that is particularly personal to you.
6. Is there something unexpected that you learnt about art from visiting the amazing homes in your book?
I loved how homeowners created art by framing pages of books that they loved but that were falling apart. Not only did they create gorgeous artworks but they got to keep a treasured book in another way.
7. What advice would you give someone looking to curate a gallery wall? Would you recommend colour themes or a more eclectic approach?
You can do either – choose the one that suits the space you want it to be in. Using the same style and colour of frame throughout is a way of tying a collection together. However, if the artworks are very different both in style and medium, then a mix of frames in a variety of colours will give a wall a sense of depth. Gallery walls don’t have to be just art, though. Some of the most arresting and successful gallery walls are, in fact, memory walls – a combination of art and memorabilia such as concert tickets, that tell the story of you and your family.
8. Are there any must-know practical tips for sourcing frames and installing art on the wall?* A frame that picks out a colour within the artwork being framed is a good way to choose a frame.
* Black frames can be heavy so choose a black frame if the art has black or dark colours within it.
*A small artwork within a wide mount and frame draws attention to the artwork.
* When first hanging art start with a focal point such as above the mantelpiece.
* Art doesn’t have to be hung, it looks great propped on sideboards and shelves.
Left image: The home of Lucy Bathurst of Nest Design nestdesign.co.uk, photo by Jan Baldwin | Right image: The home of jewellery designer and artist Ria Charisse dearswallow.com, photo by Debi Treloar
9. What else can people introduce to their walls other than traditional art? Any brilliant objects that are affordable and make great art?
You can hang anything you like on a wall! Right now, plates are popular and you can pick up pretty plates cheaply at markets and car boot sales. Tea towels are also brilliant as they come in such beautiful and graphic patterns now – frame them and they’re a fab way to decorate a kitchen. Mirrors hung gallery wall style are also eye-catching, and they have the added advantage of accentuating light in the room.
10. Finally, name three new Rockett St George products that you love...
The Japanese Ink Wash Art Print - I love its simplicity and tranquillity
The Retro Orange Glass Table Lamp - great retro vibe shape
The Mid-Century Natural Oak Sideboard – my favourite era, especially for sideboards; perfect for propping art on!
Shop Art at Home by Rachel Loos here.
Quick Fire Questions
I am happiest when… Reading a book.
My favourite podcast is… Don’t Ignore the Elephant by Dr Liz O’Riordan.
My dream holiday would be… Somewhere hot and tropical. I was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Australia and really miss the heat.
My ideal day would be spent…. With my husband and kids exploring somewhere new.
My personal motto is…. Play what’s in front of you (particularly useful when I had twins and had to take it one day at a time)
My guilty pleasure is…. Cream buns (reminds me of my childhood when it was a treat to buy them from the bakery across the road form my primary school)
The last film I saw was… Barbie at the cinema; on Netflix, my three children and I are enjoying the Hunger Game films with Jennifer Lawrence.
My favourite book is… Any of the books in the series starring female private eye VI Warshawksi. I love the strongly feminist heroine and the window in American social history over the past 20 years.
In five years’ time, I want to be… Happy, healthy and with more books to my name.
The three things I can’t live without are… My family, chocolate and my Mum’s curries.