Maria Gabriela Brito is an art collector and interior designer living in New York City and the author of Out There: Design, Art, Travel, Shopping ($60USD – Pointed Leaf Press). The book is an insider’s guide to designing interiors and developing an art collection. OUT THERE is a fresh and exclusive look behind the scenes of a passionate and exciting new design authority on mixing contemporary art with home decoration. It features highlights of Brito’s favorite contemporary artists, photographs of eight New York City apartments that she designed, and an extensive look at favorite galleries, shops, and hotels worldwide.
The following is taken from her interview by Danielle Pergament for Allure Magazine.
Rather than trying to match art to your furniture or throw pillows, look for work that you love but that is on the edge of your comfort zone in terms of brightness. Color is the fastest way to bring life to a room.
Go BIG. The bigger the piece, the more it will transform a room. Don’t shy away from a large piece. People tend to choose art that is too small for the space. Take your cue from the furniture your art will hang near. If your sofa is 70 inches long, go for a piece that’s 50 inches: if the couch is 96 inches long, try something that measures 80 inches. If you can’t find one really big image you like, you can cheat by placing two side by side. The bottom of the frame should sit six to ten inches above the top of the furniture, and the closer the top edge is to the ceiling, the higher your ceilings will look.
Present it Properly. If you’re buying art from a gallery, follow their framing or mounting suggestions, which usually reflects the artist’s wishes. As a general rule, stretched canvases don’t need a frame, and large photographs look best mounted in acrylic or Plexiglas. If the colors of the artwork are muted, consider a colorful frame to liven it up.
Advance your Placement. Before you automatically hang a new piece in the living room, think about your entire home. Instead of the predictable console and mirror in a foyer, imagine a huge, vibrant print/painting there. I especially love to incorporate smaller pieces of art in unexpected places, like a bathroom or kitchen. In the bedroom, go a bit more subdued – black-and-white photography, for example – to keep the room peaceful.
How to hang a gallery wall. Hallways make great mini galleries, but it can be tricky to hang lots of pieces of varying sizes. Here’s how to do it: take a piece of butcher paper the size of the wall (or tape paper panels together) and put it on the floor. Arrange all the artwork you want to hang on the paper. You can play around until it really looks right, then use a pencil to mark exactly where each should go. Tape the paper to the wall and hang each piece on its designated mark. Finally, rip the paper carefully. Voilà – your own gallery.