An Interior Designer Talks About Selecting Art

by Carolyn Edlund

Art is an integral part of decor, setting the mood and reflecting the interests of the owner. What do interior designers consider when choosing art?


Abstract acrylic painting by Barbara Krupp

“Marble Man” Acrylic, 36″ x 36″ by Barbara Krupp


Design specialist Carole Marcotte is the creative force behind Form & Function in Raleigh, North Carolina. After many requests for home “interventions” from friends and family, she developed the interior design firm as a way to help folks realize their goal of a happily functioning and beautiful dwelling, a place to call home.

In 2013, she expanded the design business to include a storefront, furthering her mission of sustainable design. The store has a decidedly vintage vibe. It features newly procured items that are Made In America, upcycled or made from recycled materials. In a recent conversation, Marcotte shared some thoughts about choosing and placing art in residential interiors.


Interior Designer Carole Marcotte

Interior Designer Carole Marcotte


AS: When considering art for an environment, are you looking for work that makes a statement? Or sets a mood?

CM:  When working with clients, in general, it is such a pleasure to find that statement piece, that piece that makes a room sing and speaks to the homeowner. It might be a large mixed media piece that fills an entire wall in the living room. Or, it might be a small oil painting that commands attention in a powder room.

No matter the size, this statement piece can dictate the direction the design takes. Sometimes it’s rounding up a collection of smaller pieces the owner already has and creating a stunning gallery wall that makes a statement. Within one room, it is wonderful to vary the composition with a large piece on one wall. There may be a gallery grouping on another, and perhaps a diptych on yet another – each wall making their own statement.

I was fortunate to work with one couple with a marvelous modern art collection at their old home. When working with them at their new home, we incorporated new furnishings and found the perfect place for each existing piece of their art collection. The clients were astounded and felt as though they had a new art collection. We had arranged and curated the art in a new environment and in rooms they hadn’t thought to display in their prior home.

I have also worked with a bachelor who was new to art collecting, eager to begin a collection in earnest. We were able to select four significant pieces and help chart a plan for future acquisitions.

AS: There is a lot of artwork available on the market, and online. What qualities do you look for when purchasing artwork for an interior?

CM:  When purchasing art for myself or a client, besides the subject matter, I consider framing costs. That can add a significant amount to the purchase. Gallery wrap canvases are always a wonderful option. They are perfectly fine to hang now, but could be framed later, if desired. For watercolors, photography and other art under glass, conservation glass that provides UV protection is a wise choice, as is art printed on archival paper.


Story in the Chambers

“Story in the Chambers” 28″ x 22″ Oil on canvas by Grigor Malinov


If I were to choose art for an imaginary client today, the subject matter in Grigor Malinov’s painting (above) would be perfect in the master bath or dressing area. In the master bedroom and bath it is lovely and intimate to incorporate art with some sensuality, a reflection of the loving couple that resides there.


Painting of a landscape in Tuscany

“Tuscany View” painting by Marty Husted


For the same couple, I’d love to see Marty Husted’s painting (above) in the family room as a reminder of their honeymoon to Italy. In the rooms you occupy most, it is nice to have wonderful memories surrounding you.

AS: Have you done any projects that were notable for the way you incorporated art into the design?

CM:  As a decorator, I always incorporate art into the design, whether it is the homeowner’s existing art or newly procured art that I have helped my client select. Art is the window into the soul of a home. It informs the mood of the home and tells a story about who lives there. Art is subjective and really reflects the homeowner’s interests, their life, and their travels. I never say “taste” because that too is a subjective thing, and I don’t want to be the arbiter of taste but rather help guide my clients toward pieces that capture their eye.


Artist credit: Barbara Krupp, Grigor Malinov, Marty Husted

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  1. great article , thank you for including me. Barbara Krupp

  2. I would love to hear Carole’s opinion on portraiture (not of the homeowner) and figurative art in her choices.

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