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decorating with style, pattern and colour

Visit the homes of artists and other creatives, however, and you’ll see that they treat artworks like members of the family, leaning pictures casually against walls or fearlessly displaying sculptures against patterned wallpaper.

This approach is one we can all learn from. Marcia Prentice, American author of the book How We Live (teNeues), says a key principle is to look broadly and care deeply. “Creative people are bringing in art from a lot of different sources,” she says. “They don’t feel intimidated by the art — they’re just picking up the pieces that they love.”

That can mean incorporating personal effects, according to Stacey Goergen, who co-authored Artists Living with Art (Abrams) with Amanda Benchley. A relaxed attitude also makes a difference when you’re trying to live with art more organically. Throw up a nail and try something, or rotate works regularly. For artists, says Benchley, “it’s not fixed. It’s a more fluid attitude than in a museum. If it doesn’t work, move it.”

As Australian author Karen McCartney writes in her book White Rooms (Lantern), “it’s important to remember when decorating that everything, from the macro to the micro, has a role. That includes the colour and texture of the flooring, the patina of walls, the furniture and, sgnificantly, the smaller objects placed within the space.” When it comes to the latter, she says, “some people can exploit [the attitude] ‘it shouldn’t work but it does’, but for most of us, knowing when to stop isn’t easy”.

“In general,” says McCartney, “it’s better to start with a pared-back scheme and introduce one object at a time. Reaching the ‘right’ balance is something that can be achieved over time.”