Choosing Art: A Q&A With Interior Designer Jackie Jennings
Jackie Jennings started her career as a designer after a lifetime of studying and making art. Since receiving her Master's Degree in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design in Chicago, she has worked on various residential and commercial projects in the Chicago area. Jackie founded Jennings Creative Studio with her husband, a graphic designer, to help companies and individuals realize their creative visions, whether that's developing a brand or turning a house into a dream home.
We're beyond excited that Jackie agreed to write this post in order to answer our community's questions about choosing art for any space:
Jackie here! I’ll start out by acknowledging that while it is my job as a designer to be decisive when helping clients with their spaces, I often struggle when making decisions for myself. You are not alone in this! I view my own home as an experimental playground, and as a result, the décor changes often. I style and re-style bookshelves, move objects from room to room, and switch out the pictures in frames.
I find there is a common misconception that a space is ever “finished” or that a decision is ever “final”. Just like you change and grow as a person or a family, so will the space around you. But while decisions you make about your home decor aren’t life or death, they are still important! Based on the questions some of you asked, I can tell how much thought you are putting into this.
Hopefully with this little bit of guidance, you can feel more confident in taking the plunge and putting that nail in the wall!
Q: How do I determine the right size piece for a specific space?
My general approach is that bigger is better. Consider that your artwork will take up as much visual space as any of your furniture and give it the same amount of consideration when planning placement. Keep the scale appropriate with the space you are filling – you don’t want your awesome new painting to look tiny in comparison to the furniture. Do you have a blank wall at the end of a hallway or a really high ceiling? Go for something tall, and don’t be afraid to take up the vertical space! If you are worried about hanging a fragile piece in a large open area, choose a more durable material to ensure a longer lifespan of your artwork.
But, don’t forget that your walls aren’t the only places to display your art collection! Side tables, night stands and window sills can be great places to add a personal touch. Smaller pieces make a great addition to more intimate spaces.
Fill in empty spots on a bookshelf or add a fun pop of color to a tiny bathroom. Find a way to give yourself something to smile about in the space where you fold your laundry.
Q: How do I find budget-friendly, meaningful and/or unique art pieces for my home?
I know it can be a struggle to assign meaning to pieces you find out in the world or online and are considering bringing into your home. Instead of trying to find a direct and literal tie between the artwork and the story of your life, consider how it makes you feel. So what if you’ve never been to the beach in the photo? If it makes you feel something special, who’s to say you can’t hang it up?
The nice thing is that there are no rules about what you can and can’t hang on a wall. Did someone give you an amazing birthday card that’s just too good to stuff into a drawer? Put it in a thrift store frame and pop it up on the wall. Once on a particularly memorable vacation, I purchased a bandana at a gift shop and put it in an IKEA frame – it now is the main art piece in my dining room and I couldn’t be happier. It cost me a total of $25 and gives me a constant reminder of a great trip!
Q: Gallery walls and collections: how much is too much?
Remember when I said there are no rules? I meant it. Unless you are renting - then listen to your landlord, not me!
If you are a total maximalist and want frames up to the ceiling, go for it! This is called a Salon Style gallery, and they can be so cool! If you have a lot to display but prefer to keep things a little more contained to a defined area, try rotating pieces in and out of the display to change up the look every now and then.
Mixing in unframed pieces to your gallery wall adds visual interest and plays up the collected over time feeling. Focus on the scale of the pieces in relation to each other and make sure you maintain a good balance by mixing the sizes – try not to put all the large pieces on one side. It’s a good idea to plan your layout first by taping up craft paper – this allows you to test out options without putting unnecessary holes in the wall.
Lastly: don’t be afraid to try something just because you haven’t seen it done before! Still not sure? Try contacting a local professional to talk about personalized services or a custom piece of artwork. Help is out there!