Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Living with Art: Kristen Buckingham

 [Interior design by Kristen Buckingham. Photograph by Simon Upton, originally published in Elle Decor, March 2009.]

The art of displaying art. It's a topic open to interpretation and one I've enjoyed exploring often on this blog.

[Kristen Buckingham and Lindsay Buckingham. Photo also by Simon Upton.]

Ever since my eyes first landed on pages 112 and 115 of Elle Decor, March 2009, I've been interested in the salon-style grouping designer Kristen Buckingham composed for her family's living room in L.A. Although the Buckinghams' Norman-style house is not old, it was designed by architect Kevin A. Clark (in collaboration with Kristen) to evoke the spirit of a 1920s Wallace Neff dwelling. Kristen's assemblage of diverse art acts as a counterpoint to the classic architecture and furnishings, but above all it brings a highly personal dimension to the room.

[Image courtesy Kristen Buckingham, LLC]

[Adele Writing Desk shown in mahogany by Kristen Buckingham.]

Currently Kristen is busy with her new furniture collection and showroom on La Cienega Boulevard (more examples to follow). Still, I couldn't refrain from asking the former photographer about her approach, and happily she took time to break it down:

Kristen says, "The beauty of a salon-style grouping is that it's made up of pieces you love and have collected over time. This is not an all-in-one-weekend project. When you go out with the specific intent of creating a wall like this -- start to finish -- in a day, it looks forced and loses its charm."

So, she thinks it's important to first gather a collection of works you truly feel passionate about. Then turn your attention to the framing: "There are a few different ways to go with the framing. If you want a more tailored, cohesive look, you can mount everything in the same mat and frame style," notes Kristen, but her preference is to go the alternate route -- frame each piece to first and foremost compliment the art, regardless of the rest of the collection. "This heightens the layered, acquired look of the mix," she adds.

Below is an oft-blogged Tim Street-Porter photo of Miles Redd's art collection that further illustrates Kristen's points.

[Image via 1stdibs.]

Once you are ready to hang the pieces, she has some suggestions for making the process more enjoyable:

Give yourself plenty of time.

[Image via Blick's.]

First lay your grouping out on the floor, or plot out a composition on the wall using painter's tape.

Don't be too uptight. Start from the center and build out.

[Image via Home Depot.]

Be bold. You can't be afraid to put a hole in the wall!

 [Tim Hussey photograph of artist Jill Hooper in her home -- Charleston Magazine, September 2008.

Don't be afraid to go above doors, all the way to the ceiling, or low to the floor.

Mix high and low. Original fine art, flea market finds, prints and photography -- it's the contrast that make each piece stand out.

Consider the image. If a work is bright and bold it can handle being placed high or low on the wall. If it is small, detailed, or intimate, try hanging it close to eye level where it can be better examined.

 [Image directly above, and pictures below, courtesy Kristen Buckingham, LLC]

Art figures prominently in Kristen's showroom, too. Looking at the furniture, I'm really drawn to the Adele desk; here are some other highlights.

The Laurent dining table in teak, part of her indoor/outdoor collection.

The Marsden sofa and Meili cocktail table.

The William chair.

And the Library ottoman. But this is just a tiny sampling. Click here to learn more.

Related past posts: Living with Art: Angie Hranowsky and Angie's Sources.


blydesign said...

I lover her style...nothing matches, but it all goes together!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I think when people visit my apartment, the thing they most comment on, as indeed it is the focal point, is my gallery wall. It's just drywall (nasty stuff) so pokeit full of holes! the beauty of a gallery wall is if you move something, chances are a picture will hide the previous nailhole! Mine was formed organically and imperfectly, much like Miles Redd, but to me, thats what makes a gallery wall so fun!

The Devoted Classicist said...

The furniture line has a good range of pieces that would be easy to use.

stacy said...

such a great sneak peak.

Anonymous said...

Love the eclectic mix! It has a rhythm all its own, and really honors the art. Thanks for sharing!

quintessence said...

I remember her wonderful gallery wall - it's fabulous. Great suggestions - now just to collect all the beautiful art! Stefan - you have to show us yours!

Style Court said...

FYI: Apartment Therapy did a great feature on Stefan's digs! The link is in the sidebar of Stefan's blog.

I'm of the same mind as Stefan, Kristen and Miles -- frame to compliment the art and let things evolve over time.

Thanks everyone for stopping by.

Tanya Malott, Photographer said...

I love this post! An old acquaintance of mine actually wrote 2 books on this topic: 'Living with Art', and 'Living with Books'. I love the layers and richness of this kind of design. The space is so personalized. Nice, Courtney! said...

Such a great post. I love that anyone can do a gallery wall. I find it works really well in a teenager's room too.

Anonymous said...

This is my third time coming back to this post. Love the gallery wall and your inspiring words. Thanks!

Frank Zweegers said...

A art wall, is always a great idea. You can do it with almost any painting style.