Design Guide | Sourcing Original Art

Can you spot J in this photo?

Working in design means that I get to be friends with lots of really talented designers, and on occasion I get invited to their homes. The designers I work with are all client-centric problem solvers, so it’s not often that we see a whole lot of anyone’s personal interior style in the workplace. When I get invited into their homes however, it’s like an invitation to get to know them.

I recently went to a party at a designer friend’s home and completely fell in love with her art collection. It was minimal and elegantly displayed, and I felt like it gave me a special glimpse into who she is.

This is what I love about art – it’s deeply personal, potentially more personal than any other element in your home. It’s aesthetic isn’t impacted by function, like furniture or architecture. It’s purely about what speaks to the viewer. Therefore, my number one rule about art in the home is that if you love it, you should display it. I don’t care if it’s a piece you bought from a high-end gallery or a reproduction painting you got at a big-box store.

For my home, I tend to prefer original artwork. That can be a tough preference when you’re on a minimal budget. Despite that , I’ve found some great resources for incredible original artwork. Some cost a little more then others (like a custom commissioned piece), but others may just be the cost of printing and framing!

Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media has become a prime resource for me to find unique treasures! There are so, so many talented artists that are using Instagram as a platform to market their work. Searching hashtags or going to the “discover” page has led me to tons of Instagram artists, many of which sell their artwork! I’ve also found lots of sources via other bloggers and designers I follow on Instagram. Some of the artists I enjoy following on Instagram right now are Brynn Casey, Laurie Anne Gonzalez @laurieanneart, Jessica Bush @jessicabushart, and my dear friend  Caroline Riley @carolinerileyart. There are about a million more, and tons that I follow that I can’t even think of.

Online Art Shops

I don’t know if it’s a millennial thing, or an evolved internet thing, but I feel like there are actually so many good resources online where you can affordably purchase an original piece of art. The list below is barely scratching the surface of all that is out there, but they are some of my favorite places to window shop for the perfect piece!

Local Shows/Galleries/Coffee Shops

Support local business and you may just find some great local art! There are three galleries right around my neighborhood, one of which happens to be located in my favorite neighborhood coffee shop! Since I don’t live in your neighborhood, my best advice on this one is to get out and explore. you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find. Usually the artists displaying their work in these makeshift galleries are just starting out, and the prices per piece (while not as inexpensive as big box store art) are often much more affordable than lots of original art. At the very least, you can build a list of local artists you love and save up for a special piece. It’s worth it, I promise!

Personal Photography

Any photo that captures the imagination is good in my book… I also love anything that is of family or friends (especially when they are vintage!). Right now, I’m wanting to hang some photos we took on trips together in our home.  We bought the frames for our dining room with the express intention of faming some of our photographs from a trip we took to Ireland a few years ago. Long story short, don’t be afraid to hang your own photos. They can serve as a great conversation piece when you have guests, and bring up some of your favorite memories the rest of the time!

Vintage Art

This category includes both vintage works of art, but also vintage textiles, objects, or books. We have both in our home! One of my favorite pieces (that I need to get framed for Jon ASAP!) is a vintage book page describing all of the rugby positions. I bought it off of Etsy as an anniversary gift when we were newly married and super broke. Other vintage artwork in our home are paintings that were inherited. I don’t know who bought them when, but I loved them so much I had them framed and have moved them from apartment to apartment and now to our house.

Family Heirlooms

My grandmother and grandfather on my dad’s side were artists (she was primarily a painter, though she dabbled in lots of kinds of art, and he was a ceramicist). My grandmother on my mom’s side also painted and was a talented seamstress. Pretty much anything they’ve made is an automatic yes from me… I love all of it and am honored to display it in my home! This is the biggest category for me I would say that most of the art in my home right now (and most that I want to have framed and hung!) is something that one of my grandparents made. We have a zebra drawing hung in the living room that my grandma drew on the back of a paper bag. She would probably find it hilarious that we are displaying it so prominently, because I don’t think she ever intended to it be framed. We have a series beach sketches that she did on trace paper hanging up our stairwell. I have two beach paintings my grandpa did framed and waiting to be hung in our master. We also have a sculpture my grandpa did on my fireplace and little ceramic bowls that he made, holding jewelry and bobby pins, strategically located near sinks and bedside.


Finally, if you really can’t find what you’re looking for, why not try your hand at DIYing? You never know… you may just find the perfect new hobby!

Powder Room | The Plan

The dining is room is so close to being done I can almost taste it.

Furniture has been selected, our new lighting is up, art is in progress, and window shade samples are here!

Now that we’re wrapping that room up (almost 6 months later!), I’m moving out into other spaces in the house. I’m turning my focus to our powder room. It’s a room that most guests see, so of course I want it to feel nice! In order to be budget friendly, we are keeping the toilet and pedestal sink. Both work and look nice, so there is no need to replace them. 

What we do want to update are the walls, which are currently covered in “London” themed wallpaper. In theory it sounds cute, but being that Jon and I have never been to London (it’s on the list, trust me!), it seems odd that we would have a whole room in our house covered in London monuments and architecture.

While I don’t love the current subject matter, I do think wallpaper could be the right idea, but I’m also open to the idea of board and batten or a dramatic paint color (or maybe some combination of two or three of those ideas)! The room is tiny, so it’s the perfect place for a statement.

I’m leaning towards is board and batten, potentially painted dark, with a wallpaper installed above. The only hesitation I have with this option is budget and the issue of window treatments. Right now there is a custom plantation shutter treatment installed over the window that I was planning on keeping. It is white, and while I like that style for that room, it wouldn’t work if I did a dark board and batten with wall paper above, unless that wallpaper was white. The other alternative I have is white board and batten below with a dark paint color (probably black) above, and a wall-papered ceiling, but that would require a wallpaper that is nondirectional, and I’m having a hard time finding something I love!

Light | Sink (Similar) | Wallpaper 1 | Wallpaper 2 | Towel Hook (Color Discontinued) | Faucet | Toilet Paper Holder (Color Discontinued) | Turkish Towel

So what would you do – one of the two options above, or a third with wallpaper on the ceiling? Do you think I could get away with either of the above wallpapers on the ceiling, even though they are directional? Comment below – I’d love to hear your opinions!

Beautiful cover image is by the incredible Studio McGee. 

Happy New Year!

 Welcome to 2019, friends!

I can’t believe we’ve already crossed into another year… time flies when you’re having fun, I guess! Last year was a doozy. It started out with a crazy house hunt followed by the purchase of our home, and ended with a promotion at my day job. The middle part is all kind of a blur at this point, but we have done so much work on this house and I’m really proud of what we accomplished.

Before we even moved in we painted as much of the house as we could. The office/2nd guest bedroom, our bedroom, and our bathroom are the only spaces that still need a fresh coat of paint. We’ve also painted most of the doors. We’re down to closet doors and bathroom doors that need painted at this point. Unfortunately that project didn’t start out how I wanted (we’re on our second color!), and it’s still something I’m not 100% happy with. All good lessons going forward I guess! One project I am super happy with is replacing all of the boob lights with this one. They look infinitely better and seeing them installed throughout our hallways gives me so much joy. They change the look of everything!

Hallway Light | Dining Chairs | Dining Light | Rug | Table (Antique, Similar)| Vases

The next big effort dining room because it was the one room that we didn’t have any furniture for. We are about 95% there (window treatments and art are the final touches), and I love how it’s turning out. The lesson I’ve learned here is that we need to take it one room at a time. There is a satisfaction with planning something and watching it come together, even if it’s a slow process and even if you have to course-correct along the way. Sometimes the course-correction is the best part (and where the most creativity happens!), but that doesn’t seem to exist for me if I don’t have a good plan and overall vision for the space from the start.

The second area that we’ve spent the most time and money on in 2019 are some of the functional aspects of the house. We immediately replaced our back door and all of the locks, fixed the dishwasher, got the carpets cleaned, had some repair work done on the roof, and replaced an air-conditioning unit. Later we bought a termite bond, had the fireplace inspected, and Jon added onto our fence. That was probably the most life-changing project because now we can open the door and let Remi out to our backyard without walking him to the gate. He loves it and so do we!

Finally, we focused some attention on the outside. My mom and I did some landscaping in the front yard this summer, adding flowers and tearing out dead plants. And towards the end of the year, I focused my attention to the back porch for Jon. When asked what his priorities were for the house, he kept coming back to having a place to sit outside, so for his 30th birthday he got 4 Georgia-made adirondack chairs. Then for Christmas he got an outdoor cooler and a grill, so between that and the new fence addition, we will be ready to host outside come spring!

Outdoor String Lights | Chairs

Just looking at that list makes me tired and proud all at once, considering most of it was DIY over time while trying to stick to a budget. That being said,  I’m ready to hit the ground running in 2019 and finish some more projects! Thus far what we’ve completed has been mostly out of necessity and I’m ready to move on to some more of the fun stuff!

What projects do you have planned for 2019?

Doing up the Dining Room | Part 2

Even before we bought the house, I had already picked out a dining chair. In fact… I think I’ve wanted this chair since I specified it as a guest chair on the first law firm that I worked on when I started my design career. And when I saw that they now come in all black (I’m an all black everything kinda gal!), I knew it was fate. Its the perfect super classic designer chair to pair with a beautiful, antique table.

I got a running start by painting the dining room white, purchasing a table a few months ago from Scott’s Antique Market (that is a whole different experience that I’m going to have to write about another time…), and almost immediately purchasing a rug.

The part that I’ve been struggling with lately is lighting. I started with design boards showing 12 (yes, I said 12!) options, and I narrowed, and narrowed, and narrowed some more. I ended up with three favorites…


Then I eliminated option 1. I love the idea of it, but it just didn’t feel right for my own home. Then I did a poll on Instagram for the other two, and everyone seemed to gravitate towards option 2. Now, don’t get me wrong… I like option 2. I wouldn’t have even considered it an option if I didn’t like it. But something about it just didn’t feel right. Then a designer friend of mine told me that she liked option 2 because it felt a little “funky” and counteracted the traditional table and it clicked. I needed funky! Option 2 is more funky than Option 1, but it also feels super dressy to me and that’s just not really my style. So I did what any reasonable person would do, and I pulled a third (thirteenth?) option to amp up the funky.


And so that is how I got to this option with the classic (but kind of funky) “praying mantis” fixture designed by French lighting designer Serge Mouille. At first I was worried that it was too short to work with our super tall ceilings, but then I searched for some pictures of it in dining rooms, and I’m in love! Let me point out… all of the images have a classic chair and a touch of traditional. And bonus… this light may not interfere with the art I want to hang above our board and batten because it mounts so high. When something is right, it’s right!

Elle Decor Sweden
Via Elle Decor Sweden

Colombe Design Via ARch Di
Colombe Design via Architectural Digest

Casas AD
Via Casas AD

Camilla Styles.jpg
Design by Bachman Clem, Photo by Belathee, Via Camilla Styles

Dining Room Sources

Chair | Table | Rug 1/4 | Rug 2 | Rug 3| Light 1 | Light 2 | Light 3 |Light 4

Doing Up the Dining Room | Part 1

One of the big items on our house hunting wish-list was a defined dining room, and I am pleased to say we can cross that off the list! It’s an almost blank canvas, with a nice touch of architectural detail (gotta love that board and batten!). Thus far we’ve painted it white and then used it as a storage room for painting equipment for two months, ha! But seriously… it’s been sitting empty with the exception of our painting supplies for some time now, and I’m ready to get this show on the road and have a legitimate place to eat a meal.

I’ve been pulling inspiration images for a long time (and even shared some thoughts on the blog before), but these are the few that I have honed in on. Every single one is made up of modern elements with a few vintage touches thrown in. And it goes without saying that I’m loving all the white walls and warm accent colors.

So now I’m working to get this feeling in our house… I’ve got some ideas about the table and chairs, and I’m now on the hunt for a beautiful rug and the right light fixture. Wish me luck… I’ll keep sharing as I go!



Amber Interiors Dining Room