By Lori Frary –
Because I’m an artist and a gallery owner, every time I go to a designer show house or house tour, I do an exit poll and ask my companions what design element they think created the most impact. Depending upon the person’s preferences, which are usually grounded in a specific frame of knowledge or interest, the only time anyone responds, “The art”, is when the house featured an outstanding and cohesive art collection.
A successful example of this in the kitchen is when the designer or homeowner chooses an important art piece that transcends the wow factor of granite countertops or the imported tile backsplash. These elements have become expected materials in most modern kitchen designs, and for that reason have lost their cache. To spark heightened interest and create an environment that is more than utilitarian, homeowners and designers must raise the bar with creativity and a new kind of flair – fine art.
This is a revolution regarding how we view the kitchen. With today’s contemporary open-floor plan designs, the kitchen is now part of the common area of the house. Yesterday’s kitchen was a closed room with ugly cabinets and Formica counters. It was simply for the preparation and storage of meals and the utensils that went along.
With the open-floor plan of today, people gather around the kitchen island to enjoy antipasto and sip wine. The kitchen has become so integrated into the public part of the house that more time is spent there entertaining than in the dining room or living room. In most cases, the dining room has lost its appeal as a formal space and has evolved into a casual seating area attached to the kitchen.
Selecting a painting for your focal point in the kitchen says that you not only understand the new kitchen concept, but that you embrace it. Consider your kitchen with a new critical eye. Walk in and look around and see if your kitchen looks “all kitchen-y” or if it is seamlessly integrated into the rest of the surrounding décor. What I mean by this is, does the art in the kitchen look like everybody else’s idea of kitchen art or does it convey something new and exciting? Does it depict the proverbial picture of a bowl of fruit or classic still life of grapes, pitcher and bread loaf? Not to say, that this is a no-no, but since the idea is to be more creative and integrated…well, you get the idea. The best way to be creative with kitchen art is to put something unexpected in the space. If your kitchen is white and cottage-style,
introduce a bold piece of contemporary art full of jazzy color.
Try taking a painting from somewhere else in the house and hanging it in the kitchen. It changes the ambience immediately, doesn’t it? This same strategy works in the powder bath or the outdoor lanai. Create the unexpected there too. The pool area and the patio are other places to place surprise art. Why not, it’s your home. There are fewer decorating rules today than ever before. Once the architects started deconstructing rooms, lines were blurred regarding which rooms were expected to have a certain type of décor.
What about rules regarding the type of paintings you can put in the kitchen? For the most part there aren’t any. There used to be a rule that you shouldn’t put an oil painting in the kitchen. One of the reasons was that ventilation was poor and the walls would get coated with a film of cooking grease and so would the canvas. With the open kitchen concept, ventilation problems are gone; some of the vent hoods I’ve seen used today could suck the kettle off the stove.
I have been in homes where original Picasso and Peter Max paintings hung in the kitchen and I marveled at the confidence of the homeowner who would place them there. Needless to say, this level of kitchen art is not standard
and is usually part of an impressive collection. My point is that art not only enhances a fine kitchen, but it can be such an attention grabber that it can make up for not having the budget for the other cliche elements like granite
or stainless steel appliances. Be original.
Hang a large, colorful or splashy painting in the kitchen and nobody cares whether your tile backsplash was imported from Italy or your countertop is made of Silestone instead of onyx from Venezuela. Why? Because they are going to be drawn to the art.
Because I own a contemporary art gallery I encourage you to select original artwork instead of a print (which can ripple under the glass due to moisture) but that’s an idea you should consider when adding to your art collection.
Simply the fact that you have chosen to decorate your kitchen with unconventional art is a step in the right direction. You’ll be glad you did the next time you entertain and your friends say, “Wow, I never thought about hanging an abstract nude in the kitchen!” Smile like Mona Lisa because you’re so ahead of the curve. (http://www.frarygallery.com)