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The Art of Household Art

We live in a small house without a lot of space to hang pictures, so I’m picky about what I put up. I rarely spring for mass-produced pieces – not even the cute ones from the Target aisle. With wall space at a premium, I want our art to be beautiful, meaningful, and just-right-for-us.

In addition to a half dozen family photographs, we have several Ohio-themed pieces on display, including an Ohio sign crafted from barnwood.

The art of household art

I’m kind of a fanatic about Over the Rhine, a band from southern Ohio, and love the artist who creates many of their concert posters. To make these more grown-up and less college dorm, I had them all framed professionally.

The art of household art

Last year as a gift to my husband, I created a small gallery wall of Cleveland Browns-themed pictures; again, displaying them in simple black frames gives them a touch of sophistication and holds the room together.

The art of household art

I’m not crafty, but my sisters are, so we have several pieces that were homemade gifts. I especially love these pictures my sister Elizabeth crafted from our grandmother’s button collection. I think they were technically supposed to go in the girls’ room, but I loved them too much to hide them in a bedroom.

The art of household art

Artwork around the doorway feels especially significant, as it’s the first thing we – and our guests – see as we come and go. I suspect I will always display this framed print of Nikki McClure’s Congregate papercut. It’s so cozy and welcoming – and, between you and me, it creatively conveys our preference that people remove their shoes inside the house.

The art of household art

One of my favorite artists, Suzanne Vinson, scripted this benediction from the late Rev. Fred Craddock. (She sells them at her Etsy store if you need to see that reminder on a daily basis, as I do.)

The art of household art

And then there’s the jewel of our home: a large original oil painting we bought directly from the artist.

The art of household art

I’d pined for one of Ken Reif’s work ever since I saw one of his paintings on display in a local restaurant several years ago. I remember rushing into the place, late for my dinner reservation due to Chicago traffic. I stopped short when I encountered his trademark trees, painted with such vitality it didn’t seem possible its leaves were rendered in paint, not chlorophyll.

Just gazing at the painting restored my soul.

When I looked into his work I had sticker shock; originals cost considerably more than prints. I shrugged and told myself we’re just not the kind of people who can afford to decorate our walls with “real” art.

Then, last year we had an unexpected windfall: a change in billing meant that we were reimbursed for a full month’s insurance premium. There were a lot of things we could have done with that money – a lot of things we should have done with that money.

But I’m so glad we chose not to be prudent and frugal for once.

The art of household art

I love supporting a local artist. I love investing in an heirloom. Most of all – I love my painting.

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  1. Julie Churchwell

    I love this post. Seriously everyone, Give Art a Chance, and artists too for that matter. My husband travels, and he has collected small pieces of art as souvenirs. Sure it costs a pretty penny for framing, but really it is longer lasting than a breakeable souvenir, and often it takes up less space in a bag. I could go on. and on. and on.

  2. Karolina

    I live in a small room and I love art (experiencing and creating). And last year when i visited a few houses of my friends, did I see what art on the walls can do for a house. It’s nice to see what other people put up, what makes their house a home. And in future I’ll know better how to place my art.

  3. Alysa

    Our house is filled with windows, so wall space is scarce, and I completely agree with you. I don’t buy mass-produced art because I want everything I hang to mean something. One of my favorite pieces is our vintage world/USA map from an old classroom. It hangs in our dining/homeschool room. We also have a large painting that was made just for us by a talented friend. I love looking at it and thinking about her. I’m going to try making something with my grandma’s buttons like you have, what a great idea!

  4. Erin Greco

    I love your Over the Rhine collage!! Huge fan here. We were fortunate enough to have Linford as the commencement speaker at my college graduation–it was amazing. They are just such thoughtful, talented writers and artists.

  5. priest's wife

    so pretty! I love to frame my kids’ works

  6. Linda Sand

    We have framed three photos from my husband’s college black & white photography class final. We have an original oil painting done by each of our mothers. And we just had mounted but have not yet hung railroad blueprints of Minneapolis/Saint Paul railroads. I still need something for the front hall in this new apartment but these things, so far, truly reflect us.

  7. Adrianne | The Shelton House

    I love this. We have limited wall space as well, and on top of that I cherish “quiet space” in my home… this can be a tricky balance when it comes to decorating. I mostly choose to put up all of our red-eye, non-posed, slightly grainy pictures of our family moments. We had boxes and boxes of photos when I was growing up that we only saw when we sought them out (which came to about once every 2 years), so I wanted to make an intentional effort to display them around the house. I say “my walls are my scrapbook!” and that’s exactly what I thought about your beautiful home in this post 🙂

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