Large Art: How Interior Designers Find It When Money Is Tight
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Large Art: How Interior Designers Find It When Money Is Tight

Here’s where design pros source large-scale decorations that don’t cost tens of thousands of dollars.

By Rebecca Malinsky
Mon, Feb 21, 2022Grey Clock 4 min

LAUREN MCGRATH has spent the last decade fine-tuning her hunt for statement-making art that won’t break the bank. “Beautiful rugs and sofas are great, but if you don’t have anything on the walls, it doesn’t look complete,” said the Greenwich, Conn., interior designer. Many clients don’t think about art until the budget is tapped out.

Finding reasonably priced large-scale artwork to fill those gaping voids over beds and sofas is particularly tough. But if blue-chip paintings are beyond your reach, you aren’t doomed to hanging museum posters. Here, the newest ways design pros are filling big blank walls when cash is tight.

Wrap the Room

While it’s nice to dream of a virtuosic muralist gracing your room’s four walls with luscious landscapes or abstract panoramas, wallpapers can do that now much more affordably. Exhibit A: the Yunnan mural from French furnishings company Pierre Frey shown above. The misty mountains that envelop the Bethesda, Md., dining room by designer Erica Burns require no more adornment than a simple mirror over the mantel. Murals range from $8.16 a square foot, from online wallpaper purveyor Rebel Walls, to $488 for 24 square feet from West Elm. A 4-metre wide Hudson River landscape based on an antique etching runs approx. $829 on furnishings site One Kings Lane.

Ms. Burns has one warning for mural hangers: Avoid a single statement wall. Envelop the entire room for a modern, finished feel.

A digital tapestry by Zardi & Zardi warms up the bedroom of home restorer Greg Penn’s 19th-century Georgian house in Devon, England.
PHOTO: GREG PENN
Dig a Digital Tapestry

Zardi & Zardi, founded by PJ Keeling, started digitally printing tapestries on linen in the early 2000s, at first just as placeholders for historic originals that were being restored. Soon, however, he was taking commissions from interior designers. Now the Gloucestershire, England, company sells its re-creations of European masterpieces online. A popular pastoral style about 7 feet wide, lined and weighted, costs approximately $1,900. “You get a million-dollar look that feels totally original,” said interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who has hung these tapestries in a 12th-century castle in Italy and a home in Connecticut.

Greg Penn, a home restorer in Devon, England, hung a Zardi & Zardi tapestry in the cavernous bedroom of his 19th-century Georgian home. (The studio, which has sponsored posts on Mr. Penn’s @manwithahammer Instagram account, sent him the tapestry gratis.) The classic bucolic hanging warms the vast space and “helps with the acoustics,” he said.

A large-scale photograph by Werner Pawlok hangs in this Rye, N.Y., living room by Greenwich, Conn., interior design team McGrath II.
PHOTO: MATT HARRINGTON
Stay Local

Small art shops are not only less intimidating than big-name, big-city galleries, they represent lesser-known artists who don’t yet command top dollar. “Starting at a more local level, when it comes to galleries, is the way you’re going to find big pieces that fill a space at an affordable price,” said Ms. McGrath, who nabbed the large-scale, signed photograph (shown above) for $1630 unframed. Her source: Lumas, a website and global network of small galleries whose aim is “the liberation of art” via reasonable prices.

When shopping the local market, room-size paintings—which fewer buyers can accommodate—can be a better deal than modestly scaled art, said Patrick Bradbury, owner of Tuxedo Park Junk Shop in Tuxedo Park, N.Y. He recently scored an 2.2-metres square acrylic work on canvas by American contemporary artist Allan Hacklin for approx. $300 at auction. He advises seeking out vintage shops that have a lot of space to fill. Given his own gallery’s expansive walls, he’s more likely to stock big art than boutique galleries with a small retail footprint. Another plus: Regional operations might let you take the art home so you can see it in situ.

A classroom-style map handsomely establishes a studious tone when hung over a desk in Hilversum, Netherlands.
PHOTO: LIVING4MEDIA / GONKEL/STEGEMAN
Look to the Old World

A vintage classroom map of Europe takes up most of the wall behind Caley Weyman’s living room sofa. “It’s always the life of the party,” said the Toronto collectibles dealer. “It doesn’t have a date, so people are always looking for clues as to when it’s from.” She sells vintage wares through her Instagram shop @shipyardvintage and says maps sell immediately. She favours rolling classroom maps over flat maps for their durable vinyl finish, weighted wood dowels and built-in hardware. “They have longevity and hang nicely.” She sources hers at salvage and thrift shops and wouldn’t pay more than $400 for one. Schoolroom maps, which typically span 5 feet, not only bring a bigger statement into your home than a dinky print but convey an equally expansive sense of nostalgia and adventure.

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By Robyn Willis
Fri, Aug 19, 2022 < 1 min

Treechangers seeking a home and income should take note of this west coast property in picturesque Pickering Brook in the Perth Hills, which comes with its own live-in residents.

Known as ‘the Margaret River of the Hills’ the area boasts stunning bushland while being just 30 minutes from all the amenity Perth has to offer.

With eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, this property is a home and business, operating as a thriving day spa, Hidden Valley Eco Lodges and Day Spa.

The private main residence is made of rammed earth for thermal comfort and has three bedrooms, luxurious bathroom and a large open plan living area. A private jacuzzi on the spacious entertaining deck is the perfect spot for enjoying beautiful bushland views at the end of a long day.

For day spa guests, there are four deluxe spa treatment rooms serviced by qualified staff, a reception area and lounge plus a commercial kitchen. Overnight guests can choose from five lodges with fully equipped kitchen and heated jacuzzi. As a going concern with a consistently high annual turnover, it’s a unique opportunity for the right buyer.

Set over 5.46ha, the property is also home to a very special group of residents: a small herd of alpacas, which are included in the sale.

Price guide: $6.5 million

Inspection: By expression of interest

Agent: Susanne Broido, The Agency 0499 770 237