Art Inspiration

Double digit temperatures in Toronto have made it feel like spring recently — a season that typically makes me want to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe. Lately, though, I’ve been more excited about my growing art collection, and thinking about how best to display it.

Last week I hit the reopening party for Toronto’s Brassaii, a King Street restaurant/bar with a New York feel. Smartly redesigned by The Design Agency — commonly known as HGTV’s Designer Guys Anwar Mekhayech, Matt Davis and Allen Chan — the space has great flow and a stunning collection of art and lighting. Eye Buy Art, the friendly, accessible and affordable online art gallery, actually has a satellite exhibition space in the front lounge.

Photo Blog March 19 Art Inspiration Brassaii

I think my favourite piece is Thrush Holmes’ “Love Me Till I’m Me Again” panel (acrylics suspended in resin with neon, 72” x 60”, 2008).

Photo Blog March 19 Art Inspiration Sofa Lighting Art

All of this has me thinking about how and where to hang everything. I do have one big piece — do I leave it on its own and let it anchor the space, as in this photo? This is a room by London-based designer Veere Grenney, whom I recently discovered thanks to Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic.

Photo Blog March 19 Art Inspiration Frames Art

I have an open-concept studio apartment , however. (Read: no-bedroom bachelor.) So, it might work best to just hang everything together, salon style, on one wall. I wasn’t planning to map it out on the floor first, or be very organized about it, until I saw this tidy grouping in another Veere Grenney space. Now I’m having second thoughts. Symmetry isn’t really my style, though.

Photo Blog March 19 Art Inspiration Suzanne Dimma Living Room

An art gallery-inspired cable hanging system is pretty cool and makes changing things around fairly easy, but only if you swap around pictures that are the same size and don’t change the overall mapping. Because the rod and cables fill up wall space, it also creates the illusion of a bigger art collection than you might really have. But you have to rig up the system to start with, and I know from Suzanne Dimma’s experience that this is no piece of cake (to the left is a shot of the living room in her first house). I love the full-on salon grouping shown on the right, however, you need a lot of art to make it work.

Photo Blog March 19 Art Inspiration Domino Dining Room

So, I’m back to my original inspiration shot from the March 2009 issue of Domino. I love the mismatched frames and the casual, “I just put these on the wall and they happen to look fantastic” vibe. Of course the metal table, mixed chairs and bulbous gold chandelier help.

Photo Blog March 19 Art Inspiration West Elm Frames

As for the actual frames, those who don’t have the Michael Penney eye or patience for making their own linen mattes (yes, he really makes ones like these) should check out West Elm’s Gallery Frames or Ikea’s Ribba in simple white.

Personally, I’m on the hunt for old gilt frames. And then a new spring wardrobe!

Get more tips on hanging art and affordable framing.

Photo credits:
1. Interior of Brassaii, photography by Paula Wilson
2-3. Veere Grenney Associates
4. Per Kristiansen (left); March 2009 issue of House & Home (right), photography by Stacey Brandford
5. March 2009 issue of Domino, photography by Max Kim-Bee
6. Gallery Frames, West Elm

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