By Pernille Lind
Whether it’s books, posters and artworks, or pebbles and shells from beaches, I have always loved collecting. It’s something I got from my parents, who had great collections that they either inherited or built through work and travel.
I know that building a collection can be daunting, but the good news is that there is no right or wrong way to go about it — and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Once you understand that it’s an ever evolving process, you will find that it starts to perfectly reflect the intricacies of your own tastes and travels.
Here, using the example of this charming five-bedroom villa in the rolling hills of Tuscany, on the market for €1.95mn, I suggest some ways to elevate your living spaces by expressing yourself at home.
Find your hero piece
The hero piece is the work or object that becomes the focal point of a room. As it sets the tone for the space, it may be the one that you want to consider investing the most amount of money into, but it doesn’t need to break the bank.
I have found that many galleries offer affordable options as part of a portfolio of both up-and-coming and more established artists. I love working with McCully & Crane and Wondering People, for example, as both sell a wide range of artworks that strike a balance between artist profile and price.
The living room in the Tuscan property has a well-curated range of art but the space would benefit from a hero piece on one of the sofa walls. I often look for pieces that introduce some dramatic intrigue and for me, this painting by Jon Harvey, titled “Masterpiece”, is the perfect theatrical work to place centre stage.
Add a quirky sidekick
This is the item that showcases a more playful and creative approach to collecting. It could be something you have picked up at a market on holiday, a piece of fabric you adore, or an object you wouldn’t ordinarily see hung on the wall, such as the fan in the other reception room of the Tuscan property.
Think outside of the box here to add interest and another dimension to the space — it’s best if it’s a personal piece that is fun and special. For me, this would be something by Lara Preiti, a London-based artist and ceramicist who makes beautiful ceramic jigsaws. “Circle, Fragmented 2”, for example, can be mounted and framed for a quirky abstract touch.
Step outside the frame
It may not be the most affordable option but this vintage tapestry from 8 Holland Street is a great example of how you can also hang a piece of fabric you inherited, previously wore, or found at an antique market — it would certainly add another captivating layer to this living room.
Cast the supporting roles
Once you have these pieces in place you can begin to think of the supporting works, such as groups of artworks that complement each other in style, colour or theme. Choosing work that is part of a series is an easy way of adding impact to larger areas of wall and can help create a visually appealing ensemble that tells a bigger story.
This set of 18th-century French botanical specimens from Adelphi Gallery would make a lovely addition to the collection, or could even serve as inspiration for how to display your own pressed flowers.
Don’t forget the plot twist
Finally, add an unexpected layer to the story that introduces a wonderful individuality to your space. I love pieces that don’t ordinarily fall under the traditional “art” umbrella, but showcase a really personal side of the narrative. This could be anything from stamp collections, a page from your favourite book, shells you collected on a memorable holiday or the lyrics from your favourite song or a poem.
The trick here is skilful framing that will elevate these humble items to become unique pieces of art. Take your time selecting quality wooden frames and textured mounts. In my own flat, I have a collection of my grandmother’s handwritten recipes, float framed with a natural linen lining and set within walnut stained frames. Hanging these in my kitchen adds a sentimental touch to the space and pulls you in to read what was on the menu in the 1940s.
If you’re in east London, Brider & Bull in Stoke Newington are great local framers and carefully framed these for me.
Photography: Adam Firman; Italy Sotheby's International Realty