Here's how an eclectic mix of furnishings and fabric finds common ground when original works of art inspire the setting.

From the moment you step into the door at the Memphis address of Meredith McInnis Hogue, you are greeted by a strong yet pleasing presence of original art and an abundance of color. "I love color," Meredith says, "especially the unexpected punches and combinations found within a painting."

As an interior designer with Shea Designs in Memphis, Meredith finds red and green to be her favorites. Not wanting her home to look like Christmas all year, she chose an original piece of art as the foundation for the setting. It offers a source of inspiration and a place of origin for color composition and style. To learn more about how to bring together an eclectic mix of furnishings and fabric, we asked David Lusk, owner of the David Lusk Gallery in Memphis, for a few bits of advice.

Gallery Owner Tells All

  • Look, look, look. The more you see, the more at ease you'll be making decisions. 'Visit lots of galleries,' David advises. Museums are fun, inexpensive ways to learn about art. Meredith agrees, 'Educate yourself, and you won't be intimidated. You'll know exactly what you're looking for when you see it.'
  • Find a gallery you trust, and visit several times to get comfortable with your choices and the artists the gallery represents. Make an appointment to look at inventory closely. Bring samples of what you are looking for, such as a picture from a magazine or museum catalog.
  • Ask yourself if a piece speaks to you. Good art is not the same for everyone because so much of it depends on emotion. 'The expense should not factor into the personal value of a painting,' says David.
  • Remember that works on canvas are generally more expensive than works on paper. If you love an artist's work, but cannot afford a large canvas, inquire about other possibilities.
  • A gallery owner doesn't expect you to know about all the different types of art, so don't be afraid to ask questions. 'Someone might come in and say they would like an Impressionist piece and when you show them a selection, it's not what they expect,' David says.
  • Original art is an investment. It should increase in value over time. Posters and lithographs are not as likely to increase in value for resale, and they may be just as expensive as an original piece by a different artist. Choose the original when you can.

"Art of the Matter" is from the October 2000 issue of Southern Living.