Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Learn how to balance art and furniture with tips from this designer.

Todd Childs

We see a lot of great rooms, and we learn to spot the star element of each one pretty quickly. This one took awhile. With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements. Using art as the start, interior designer Curtis Herring created a heavenly haven in his New Orleans living room.

Keep a Low Profile
Curtis designed this space to be all about the art. “I wanted everything to have its place, but I really wanted the art to shine,” he says. He kept his furniture choices low and lean. A beige sofa discreetly anchors the seating area. The blue-upholstered armchair and the club chair are great accents to the neutral palette. The bold fabric of the club chair, one of the few major patterns in the room, adds just the right amount of visual punch. Curtis replaced the original vertical bookshelves with a long shelving unit underneath the picture window. Besides providing space for books, it has a top surface that is perfect for displaying small pieces of sculpture. Fantastic brown leather Barcelona chairs at one end of the room act as pieces of sculpture themselves.

On the Level
Curtis’s collection of paintings is a totally modern mix. By keeping the artwork on a large scale and hanging the pieces at roughly the same height all around the room, he made each piece look as important as the next--just like in a gallery. Never crowd a great painting. Give it room to show off.

Curtis was able to get some of his small pieces at great prices by buying from young and unknown artists. You can often purchase wonderful pieces from local artists and even art school students. Remember, almost every artist was a student at one time.

The Barcelona Chair: Why It’ll Never Go Out of Style
With clean lines that can be traced back to ancient Greece, the Barcelona chair is a contempo classic suited for any room. The chocolate brown ones pictured above are especially nice. Read on to learn more about this style.

  1. The Barcelona chair was designed for the 1929 Barcelona World’s Fair and was an instant hit. It is made of stainless steel or chrome and is always upholstered in leather.
  2.  It gets stares alone or in pairs, but we happen to think that nothing beats two. As this room shows, the simplicity of the chair makes it more of a statement when paired with a partner.
  3. This style of chair is available from many sources including Design Within Reach (www.dwr.com). A Web search will offer easy comparison shopping.


Source: Interior design by Curtis Herring, New Orleans, www.curtisherring.com or (504) 866-7577.

"Artfully Arranged" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living.


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