He likes leather. I like linen. He likes polished chrome. I like distressed wood. He likes bold. I like subtle. And so, as DC and I began picking art for our new blended home it got, umm, interesting.
Besides having different tastes, we come to art from philosophically different places. DC likes to collect works from known artists who have strong followings. Originals are good, but he will also buy signed, numbered or hand-embellished prints. I like to support little-known artists whose work I find at local art fairs, where I often meet the artist and take home something original.
So when DC first showed me the work of Chris DeRubeis, a successful artist who paints on metal, I laughed, which was the most polite response at my disposal. But inside I was thinking, “No way!”
“Isn’t it awesome! He got his start painting the gas tanks of Harley-Davidsons,” DC said.
“That does not endear me,” I said. “I am more of an oil-painted landscape kind of girl.”
What DC does not point out is that, since we blended our furnishings, my art dominates the vertical real estate in our home at a ratio of, oh, about my 10 pieces to his 1. I am trying to bend, and that feels like a dried wishbone snapping three weeks after Thanksgiving.
But then, and this is where love comes in, I softened.
The defrost started with a colorful rug. Remember the blue-and-green patterned rug I wrote about, the one that tripped the frenzy of painting the dining room deep blue just days before the wedding?
Well, when the rug first landed in our living room, DC liked it about as much as I liked his metal art. I, on the other hand, loved the rug. I just didn’t know if I could make it work, unless ... unless ... I began thinking out loud. We’d need to add some strong color in pillows, wall paint and art. That’s when I blurted the immortal words: “I could even see a DeRubeis.”
DC leapt two feet in the air while fist pumping, as if the Steelers had just won the Super Bowl.
“But it would have to be the right color,” I added. He did not care. He was getting his DeRubeis.
So we visited the artist’s gallery in Scottsdale and found the statement piece in the right size for the wall, with the right colors. And, you know what? It looks pretty darn great.
The art of compromise. It’s a beautiful thing.
Still, I called my friend Elaine Griffin, a New York interior designer, for some reassurance.
“Not only can you mix modern and traditional, you should!” Griffin said. “The chicest interiors combine both.”
Then she offered more tips on mixing art styles:
Set some ground rules. “Remember, part of being a couple means compromise.” However, while both partners can bring to the table what they like, each also has veto power. But use the privilege sparingly.
Check all the boxes. Scale, color and subject matter. First, the art must relate to the wall it’s on and the room it’s in. A large wall calls for large art. Small art works best in small spaces. Once you nail the size, focus on color and subject matter. “A blown-up photo of Muhammad Ali doesn’t go in the kitchen. That’s for the man cave,” Griffin said.
Understand collector vs. decorator. Collectors buy what they love, regardless of where or whether it will go. Decorators pick art because it works in a space. “The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. You did both. You approached the choice from a design perspective. You knew what size you wanted, and what color. Then you worked to find one that fit your criteria from an artist your husband wanted to collect.”