Large Art: How Interior Designers Find It When Money Is Tight
Kanebridge News
Share Button

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, 2022 10:08amGrey 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.
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.
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.
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.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Car Dealers on Why Some Customers Hesitate With EVs
By SEAN MCLAIN 11/12/2023
Going warm and fuzzy for the 2024 Pantone Colour of the Year
3 Reasons You Should Buy a Stick Vacuum—And 3 Reasons They Suck
By KATE MORGAN 08/12/2023
Car Dealers on Why Some Customers Hesitate With EVs

Concern about electric vehicles’ appeal is mounting as some customers show a reluctance to switch

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Auto dealers across many parts of the country say electric vehicles are becoming too hard a sell for buyers worried about the range, reliability and price of these models.

When Paul LaRochelle heard Ford Motor was coming out with an electric pickup truck, the dealer was excited about the prospects for his business.

“We thought we could build a million of them and sell them,” said LaRochelle, a vice president at Sheehy Auto Stores, which sells vehicles from a dozen brands in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The reality has been less positive. On Sheehy’s car lots, LaRochelle says there is a six- to 12-month supply of EVs, compared with a month of gasoline-powered vehicles.

With automakers set to release a barrage of new electric models in the coming years, concerns are mounting among auto retailers about whether the technology will have broader appeal given that many customers are still reluctant to make the switch.

Battery-powered models have been piling up on car lotsdealers say, as EV sales growth has slowed in the U.S. this year. Car companies have been offering a combination of discounts and lower interest-rate deals in an effort to juice demand. But it hasn’t been enough, because buyer reticence extends beyond the price tag, dealers say.

“I’m not hearing the consumer confidence in the technology,” said Mary Rice, dealer principal at Toyota of Greensboro in North Carolina. “People aren’t beating down the door to buy these things, and they all have a different excuse why they aren’t buying one.”

Customers cite concerns about vehicles burning through a battery charge faster in cold weather or not being able to travel as far as they expected on a single charge, dealers say. Potential buyers also worry that chargers aren’t as readily accessible as gas stations or might be broken.

Franchise dealerships fear that the push to roll out new models will inundate them with hard-to-sell vehicles. Research firm S&P Global Mobility said there are 56 EV models for sale in the U.S. this year, and the number is expected to nearly double to 100 next year.

“I start to think, you know maybe we should just all pump the brakes a little bit,” Rice said.

A group of dealers expressed their concerns about the government’s role in pushing electric vehicles in a letter last month to President Biden.

A Toyota Motor spokesman said the majority of dealers have become “increasingly more confident in their ability to sell Toyota EV products.”

At Ford, the company’s electric-vehicle sales are rising, including for its F-150 Lightning pickup, but demand isn’t evenly spread across the country, according to a spokesman.

Dealers say that after selling an EV, they sometimes hear complaints about charging and the vehicles not always meeting their advertised range. In some cases, customers seek to return them to the dealer shortly after buying them.

“We have a steady number of clients that have attempted to or flat out returned their car,” said Sheehy’s LaRochelle.

While EVs remain a small but rapidly expanding part of the new-car market, the pace of growth has slowed this year. Electric-vehicle sales increased 48% in the first 11 months, compared with a 69% jump during the same period in 2022, according to Motor Intelligence. Sales remain concentrated in a few states, with California accounting for the largest chunk, S&P Global Mobility data found.

The cooling growth has raised broader questions in the industry about whether car companies face a temporary hurdle or a longer-term demand challenge. Automakers have invested billions of dollars to bring more EV models to the market, and many analysts and car executives say they remain optimistic that sales will continue to expand.

“Although the rate of growth has slowed recently, EV demand is clearly moving in the right direction,” said General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra on a recent conference call with analysts. A combination of more affordable model options and better charging infrastructure would help encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, she said.

There are also varying views within the dealer community about how quickly buyers will adopt the technology.In hot spots for electric-vehicle demand, such as Los Angeles, dealers say their battery-powered models are some of their top sellers. Those popular EV markets also tend to have more mature public charging networks.

Selling an electric car or truck outside of those demand centres is proving more difficult.

Longtime EV owner Carmella Roehrig thought she was ready to go full-electric and sold her backup gasoline vehicle. But after the 62-year-old North Carolina resident found herself stranded last year in a rural area of South Carolina, she changed her mind. Roehrig’s Tesla Model S got a flat tire, but none of the stores in the area carried tires for a Tesla. She ended up paying a worker at a nearby shop to drive her home.

Roehrig still has her Tesla but bought a pickup truck for long road trips.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“I have these conversations with people who say we’ll all be in EVs in 15 years. I say: ‘I’m not so sure. I’ve tried to do it,’” Roehrig said. “I think you need a gas backup.”

Customers who want to ditch their gas vehicle for environmental reasons are sometimes hesitant, said Mickey Anderson, president of Baxter Auto Group, which owns dealerships in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

“We’re in the Colorado Springs market. If this is your sole mode of transportation, and you’re in a market in extremes of elevation and temperature, the actual range is very limited,” Anderson said. “It makes it extremely impractical.”

Dealers representing around 4,000 stores across the U.S. signed the letter in November addressed to Biden, saying the administration’s proposed auto-emissions regulations designed to promote electric-vehicle sales are unrealistic. The signatories ranged from stores owned by family businesses to publicly held giants such as AutoNation and Lithia Motors.

“Some customers are in the market for electric vehicles, and we are thrilled to sell them. But the majority of customers are simply not ready to make the change,” the letter said.

Some carmakers are pushing back EV-rollout plans. GM said in mid-October that it would delay the opening of an electric pickup plant by a year to late 2025. In response to weaker-than-expected consumer demand, Ford said in late October that it would defer $12 billion of planned spending on electric-vehicle investment.

Since September, dealers on average took more than two months to sell an EV, compared with 40 days for all vehicles, according to car-shopping website Edmunds.

While discounts have helped boost sales of some electric vehicles, they also have led to repercussions for some current owners because it reduces the value of their vehicles, dealers say.

“Most people don’t have the confidence to buy an EV and know what it will be worth in 10-15 years,” said Rice from the Toyota dealership.

It may take some time for the industry to adjust because it is still in an early stage of switching to electric vehicles, Sheehy’s LaRochelle said.

“We’re asking for this market to grow organically,” he said.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Looking the Part Could Land You That Job
The Pay Raise People Say They Need to Be Happy
By JOE PINSKER 21/11/2023
Qantas Scraps Attempted Takeover of Australian Charter Operator
By Decison follows opposition from Australia’s competition regulator 19/10/2023
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop