How to Art-Update your Interior Design and Keep What you Love

Your house, apartment or town home looks tired. It needs an update, the eye of an expert. While you are open to new ideas, you are not willing to part with that painting of the Italian Riviera your parents bought on their honeymoon. Heck, it’s a family heirloom! Neither are you cool with some designer nixing that signed celebrity photographer’s photos of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Peter Tosh in JA. You simply have too many sweet memories of rock and reggae infused beach vacations.
“No worries maan,” as they say in the islands. There are options whether it becomes a DIY project; or you find that interior designer who totally gets you and the art you love.
Michele Thompson is a young and upcoming Toronto based interior designer who understands the importance of integrating a client’s cherished art.
“You have to be creative enough to incorporate a piece that’s sentimental.  It’s not always easy, but extremely important,” says Thompson whose firm Bespoke Living Company recently completed a project in Canada’s Muskokas.
 A quiet respite for celebrities Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Cindy Crawford and Justin Bieber, Muskoka is just two hours from Toronto, and home to cottages fitted with stunning interior design and coveted works by famous artists.   
“He is the Picasso of Canada,” says Joe Quinn when talking about his pricey works by Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau. A Muskoka cottage owner and 23 year veteran real estate agent, Quinn is affiliated with Christie’s, the established art auction house that also boasts a luxury home real estate business.
Needing a living room make-over, Quinn called Thompson.
Transforming Your Home
 “When I went to look at the room everything was dark, like a sea of tobacco. The Morrisseau piece just sort of died.  So we lightened up his walls,” says Thompson.  She ensured the Morriseau became a focal point for anyone entering the room, placing it above a large, leather, caramel colored Baker chair. 
“There is a way to have your art collection evolve and still work with existing interior design,” says Thompson.
With Quinn’s Métis background as a guide, she added an aboriginal sculpture of an American black bear to the room, placing it a few feet from the Morrisseau on a side table. It sits next to a large window with an expansive vista of Canadian woodlands.
In addition Thompson incorporated aboriginal inspired fabrics, drawing her color cues from the large Morrisseau. 
Thompson and Quinn are now discussing the purchase of an historic photograph of an aboriginal chief to expand his art collection. “It would be a great juxtaposition without detracting,” says Thompson
Whether it’s your home or office, your art says a lot about you, “It’s like the shirt you’re wearing, “says Lisa Rogers, interior designer and a regular contributor to City TV’s popular lifestyle show City Line.  Rogers, a former model, is a big fan of photo- art which she regularly incorporates into interior design make-overs for clients.
“A great photographer takes a stunning picture of a captured moment in time and when you look at it, it takes you back to that moment. A talented photographer can do that. Special memories are treasures,” says Rogers
 “It can be contemporary or traditional, paintings or photographs; art breathes life into a home. You’ve got original photos of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones over the bar at your house and you are this conservative investment banker. You’ve got a different side to you.  That’s very cool,” adds Thompson.
Both Rogers and Thompson understand the added value of a gallery wall as a perfect fix when a client has family, vacation photos, photo –art or paintings they want to keep. 
In Thompson’s Georgian style home she chose a corridor to incorporate a number of Montreal and Toronto pieces inherited from her parents and art her grandparents bought in Belgium.  She also had CSNY and Neil Young vinyl album covers she and her husband purchased to incorporate. She admits it was a challenge but she loves challenges. “It gets your creative juices going,” says Thompson.
 To make it work she painted the walls to create a blank canvas.  “I managed to position the pieces so they complimented each other and told a beautiful story related to the people I love, one that keeps a smile on my face,” adds Thompson.
“Being able to compose an eclectic gallery wall and make it work, takes talent and skill. But when it’s done right, everyone stops and looks,” adds Rogers.
Whether you are incorporating a large statement piece, unique sculptures, coupling works, or creating a gallery wall, art-updating your interior design and keeping what you love is certainly doable, whether you take on the project yourself or find that interior designer who totally gets you.