art & design, interior design, my home

Design Resolutions :: Purchasing Original Artwork

So, I started a whole post titled 'Design Resolutions' earlier this month, and realized that maybe it would make a better series than a one-off post!? So here I am, bringing the first one to you with a resolution I actually had last year, and (miraculously) actually completed! Moving forward, I'm going to share them with you as I'm chipping away at them for our own home.

The resolution? Incorporate more original artwork into every room in the house.


Why It's Important: Art is personal. It's not going to speak to everybody, but it should speak to you. Therefore, it's one of the most important factors in distinguishing your space. You may have a sofa that looks like everyone else's, but with an original piece of art over it, it will completely transform the room, maybe even the color palette, or focal point of the space.

The Challenge: Original art ain't cheap. Nor should it be. That said, while you may be able to invest in a few key pieces, you can also shop thrift stores, vintage malls, or online sites like EBTH or Etsy for affordable works of art.

My Approach: Throughout the past two years, I've slowly collected little pieces of art as I've come across them, but once I made it a priority, I stepped up my game. I bookmarked art sites that I loved. I made a point of popping into the vintage malls in Seattle at least once a month to scour for gems. I started following artists on Instagram who would post when they had new pieces for sale. I discovered a few great art galleries both locally and elsewhere. And then I tried to be as patient as possible when it came to buying.

gallery wall in living room with mix of original art

In our living room, this wall has been an ever-revolving space for me to play with my art pieces as I collect them. It's a fun space to have - and yes, there are a ton of holes in this wall. I'm not one of those people who's going to wait until I have every perfect piece to layout and nail up a gallery wall. I enjoy the process of collecting over time, allowing items to fall into their natural place in the lineup.

The two pieces that are a constant here are the top small watercolor by Kate Roebuck, and a beautiful white oil painting by Ashleigh Ninos that my photos never do justice to because they always blow out the texture. I like that it provides a little quiet moment next to the TV - especially when it's on. The blue on linen painting is by Shannon Duley via the Gregg Irby Gallery, which is such a fun resource for shopping original art, as they will ship!  The John Lennon poster was a vintage store find - it's from the Imagine LP.  Because it's so large, I had it simply framed to save a little money!

vintage floral artwork and modern bench

This original oil painting would probably fetch anywhere between $1k-$2k in a store, but I scored it for a little over $600 at a site I like to stalk art on,, which is an online Estate Auction site. You can set up search alerts that are mailed to you daily, which is how I found quite a bit of art there. I've had to turn it off because I was going so overboard! It's not such a hidden secret anymore, which is too bad because the good stuff goes for a bit higher than I'd like. My rule is that I won't bid more than I would be able to get it for in person at a store. Typically their photography is very good, so I've never had something arrive that I thought looked completely different than it did online.

I typically search for something like "vintage oil painting" on sites like Etsy where you really have to weed through the results to find some gems. But if you're on a budget, it is worth itI typically shop on Etsy when I have a more specific idea of what I'm looking for. Once you find great shops, favorite them and return frequently!

highlighted art with sconce

vintage french oil painting in modern farmhouse kitchen

Another great way to shop for paintings is by finding small vintage stores both online and locally, and get on their mailing lists. On Instagram, I set alerts for shops like Super Marche, Maven Collective or Elsie Green, so I know when they've posted something new!

I actually found this little French oil painting at Elsie Green when I was shopping there in person, and immediately signed up for their mailing list. I've done the same for many little shops over the years - either start following them on instagram or join their mailing list so I don't forget about them! A few other favorites include Sunday Shop, and Counter Space

Sidenote - I'm more likely to purchase smaller scale art on a whim or in colors or a style that feel more 'risky' for my space because they're not dominating. They can easily blend into gallery walls or find little spots in the house to pop. This vintage oil piece isn't within my usual color palette, but I loved it so much I just figured I'd find a spot for it - and so far it's had several!

modern art in a classic eclectic dining room

small painting on top of styled cabinet

While vintage is always a great way to go with art, sometimes it's easier to find new artists and stalk them until something you love pops up! This is where instagram really does the trick for me, and how I found one of my more recent purchases, this scene from, Michelle Morin. I'm not lying when I say I've been following her forever. And then suddenly, one day, there it was. Something about the composition just called to me. I didn't have the funds for it right away, but when I inquired about it nearly a month later it was still available and I made her mine! Sometimes you have to risk losing a piece if the timing isn't right. It can be heartbreaking, but so awesome when it works out!

Another source I use is Chairish - there is so much art on that site! I like browsing the 'artist collective' section, which is where I found the bold, modern piece in our dining room by Jason Trotter, which is about to move to our studio. I also have so many pieces from my good friend Jennifer Ament in the house. They're on a constant rotation, but you may have seen some of them recently in our bedroom reveal! Lastly, I like to browse the 'Under $800' section of Uprise Art, and currently have waaaaay too many pieces favorited in there!

mix of original small art on floating shelf

The lightening bolt is my favorite!

Do you have favorite sources for new and vintage original art? And what do you think about this series!?? Next on my list of resolutions? COLOR. See ya for that one next month!