We moved into this house 10 months ago, which was probably one of the happiest days of my life, truly. I hate moving out – the packing, the cleaning out of the fridge (do we take this 2/3rds jar of Soy Vey?), the admitting you are taking all your really skinny clothes to yet another house where they’ll just sit in your drawers, etc.
But, I love moving in. Everything feels so fresh and your possibilities seem endless. You think to yourself – this is the house that I’m not going to do bad things to. This is the house where I’m finally going to make really deliberate design decisions. Let go of the crazy, embrace the sophisticated. This is that house, right?
The house felt quiet and simple and I was DESPERATE to keep it like that. But I knew me and I was terrified of me. You see, I like stuff. Too much stuff. My worst enemy was/is myself and at all times I had to say ‘pull it back, use restraint, put that collection of miniature shoes down and walk away‘.
But lets talk walls and art today. The wall space in this house was endless – there was just so much of it. Having a lot of wall space is like having big boobs – everybody thinks its such an awesome thing, but it comes with its own sets of problems. I had 1 million pieces of small to medium pieces of art, that all of a sudden felt bitsy (Don’t worry, I’m making good use of them in other rooms). And sure, I could have done gallery walls, but it could have/would have looked so busy on such big walls and I was desperate for a quiet house.
One of the many huge walls in question was this one, which faces the door as you walk in.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: really good, original, large-scale art is VERY expensive as it should be (read my post about how I finally framed my blimp painting). You can buy awesome prints for cheaper, you can do some really good DIY pieces, for sure. But if you want someone else’s talent, experience, expertise and hard work on your walls, you are going to pay for it. As you should, frankly. But making sure you are buying the best piece can be very intimidating.
And I needed pieces of art.
One of my biggest regrets in life is not going to art school, not because I think I could have been an artist, but because I’m desperate to have met hundreds of artist friends that would have constantly been giving me beautiful large-scale pieces of original art. It would have been worth the tuition alone, for sure.
The space above is what is in question today (pics are from 6 months ago).
We needed bookshelves in the house (because where else am I going to display my crazy hoarding collection of things that I couldn’t part with?) and we thought about the space to the right, but figured it would compete too much with the fireplace and that wall would be too heavy. But that landing (the left) there seemed like it could be the perfect focal point so we decided to build it there (read this post about the complete bookcase design and installation). That meant that the space to the right needed to have really just one big piece that was somewhat quiet or else there would crazy in front of crazy which equals total insanity.
Meanwhile Danielle, The Jealous Curator, introduced me to a wonderful artist named Nike Schroeder. I had used her work at The Fig House and loved it so much. It’s so intricate and compelling but at the same time quiet because the string pieces are just a beautiful texture.
One of the hanging string pieces seemed perfect for the space. It was 3 dimensional and kinda like a sculpture which is was perfect since the blimp is a flat piece of art. It has so much movement and makes a statement, and yet (again) it’s just so quiet and elegant. I called Nike up and said, listen, I probably can’t afford you but are you interested in doing a collaboration with me? And she said ‘Come on down to the studio and lets chat’. Luckily she was in LA.
So I did. And chatting meant basically choosing my threads which was so exciting and daunting. She had hundreds of them and they all seemed so beautiful. Do I choose something safe and timeless? Do I choose the color palette of the house or do something different so it doesn’t look too curated/designed? Do I go with beautiful timeless colors or one that will frankly get more attention right now? Or do i just pick all my favorite colors together and see what she does with them? Yes. That sounds the most interesting, so that’s what I did.
Prettty blues/teals with a hit of acid yellow, hot pink/coral, some lighter pastels, golds and even a black in there to give it a bit of dimension. It was stressful but what I finally chose (she helped me, for sure) we were both so excited about. I felt 80% confident. Over the next couple weeks I would look at this picture and ask myself ‘Did you chose the right colors?’ and then reassure myself that I did. I let her completely choose the order of the colors. She’s the artist, I was just the buyer who commissioned it.
But there were times when I thought, maybe I should have done something more sophisticated like this (which was a backup):
I still love that SOOOOO much, but it doesn’t quite hit me in the ‘excitement gut’ like the other color palette. And I fear that it would have been so muted that it would have been hard to really mix with my other more saturated colors in the room. But its tempting, right?
Then came the day that it was delivered (3 days before the Domino shoot) and all my fears were dispelled. It was absolute perfection:
I was SOOOOOO excited. It made the room come alive, instantly. Also please note that I’m wearing a button up blouse on top and work out pants/shoes on bottom. That’s how we roll.
Oh and we measured the perfect size of piece for that wall, accounting for a credenza underneath, and therefore it was perfectly proportioned.
The house was still obviously a disaster at that point, but that piece? It was down right amazing. Its exciting and quiet, a statement without being busy, and it moves slightly while still having the structure of a rectangular shape.
We shot it for Domino, that you can see HERE, but since we reshot the house a couple of weeks ago (by Tessa Neustadt) with the updated furniture you get some new photos, here:
There are other things to talk about (is that white piece of furniture bowing, you ask? Where did you get that massive white pouf) but I’ll get into that next week. This post is all about that piece of art.
Lets talk about splurging on things – I get this question all the time – Where do you splurge and where do you save? I say this: splurge on original, one of a kind, conversation pieces – whether it’s a sofa or a piece of art. Splurge on pieces that will make your house totally unique. You can piece everything else together from thrift stores, flea markets and retail chains, but you need a few statement pieces to make your space look like you.
There are a lot of people out there that poo poo expensive art (I couldn’t think of a better verb, sorry), but what they need to consider isn’t just the material or the labor costs (I could have done that, or, But that’s just string!). It’s the creative time it takes to conceptualize, prototype and practice that specific piece, let alone the years they spent training, learning and probably earning nothing from it. Its uncountable and unquantifiable. There are some pieces in the world that you wonder if it was just thrown together, sure, but this piece is sewn, thread by thread. And the best part is that you know intellectually the labor that went into it, but it’s so graceful that it just feels effortless.
Anyway. I reached out to Nike to ask if she was comfortable having me tell you how much it retails for and how much I purchased it for (because yes, she gave me a big press discount) but we things its best that you just contact her or her gallery (Walter Maciel Gallery). The retail price range for these (they are all custom) is $2500 – $8,000, depending on the size. Its a pretty penny, but its a pretty (nay beautiful) piece of art that I’ll treasure forever.
Some people like to splurge on expensive cars, fancy appliances or high-end sheets. Not me. I’ll take pretty, original art any day.
*After photos by Tessa Neustadt, except for this last one by Brittany Ambridge