6 Expert Tips for an Art-Filled Home

Need direction buying and showcasing fine art at home? Local art and design experts Kelly Allabastro and Mary Ann Cohen offer helpful tips


Invest in What Matters

Kelly Allabastro of Allabastro Designs advocates collecting what you love or feel a connection with, be that aerial beach photography or abstract paintings.
“You should have three or four pieces in your home that make your heart sing,” she says. Purchasing fine art as a financial investment can be tricky and is best left to experienced collectors, says Mary Ann Cohen of MAC Art Galleries. On average, art returns 7.6 percent to investors each year, according to the online market
database Artprice.

Go Big and Bold

Scale and proportion matter when choosing art, which is why Allabastro and Cohen take a “bigger is always better” approach. An oversized art installation or a striking gallery wall works in most
settings, especially spaces with high ceilings and an open floor plan. The right piece will contribute significantly to the overall design concept, sync with other artwork, and highlight complementary hues and textures around the room.

Have a Game Plan

In her gallery, Cohen hangs artwork at the standard 57 inches off the ground but recommends clients display works at eye level. Allabastro adds: “Hanging artwork at gallery height is for a person of average height. If you’re taller than 6 feet, you’ll want to hang it higher.” If installing two or more works, Allabastro suggests first
tracing them onto paper and taping each cutout to the wall to envision how the artwork will look before hanging.

Photo by Ron Rosenzweig

Test-Drive Before Buying

If a piece is inciting your heart to sing but cautioning your wallet to wait, ask the gallery if it would lend it to you for a few days. “It’s very common practice because buyers often want to live with something to see if they love it or not,” notes Cohen. If not, “then we take it back and maybe suggest something else to try.”

Utilize Technology

Design pros use Photoshop and AutoCAD software to virtually stage art around a residence, but there are plenty of options available to novices. Websites and mobile apps like ArtPlacer, ArtRooms, and WallApp let users drag and drop art into uploaded room images to create realistic previews. Says Allabastro: “These are great tools that can answer questions about scale, like ‘Is the piece too big? Too small? How will it look over the sofa?’”

Think Outside the Box

Frames and shadow boxes are excellent solutions for preserving memorabilia and keepsakes. Allabastro has framed everything from Hermès scarves to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Personal items are also terrific conversation starters. 

Shop SmART

Seven area galleries and studios to get you started:

A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery, 500 N. Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce; (772) 465-0630

Denise Justice Fine Art, 3237 SW Mapp Road, Palm City; (772) 219-0078

Geoffrey C. Smith Galleries, 47 SW Osceola St., Stuart; ; (772) 221-8031; 4545 SE Dixie Hwy.; Stuart; (772) 283-8336

Kling Gallery, Wine, and Décor, 723 S. Colorado Ave., Stuart; (772) 678-6949

MAC Art Galleries, 4601 Military Trail Suite 101, Jupiter; (561) 429-4829

Rare Earth Gallery, 41 SW Flagler Ave., Stuart; (772) 287-7744

Gallery 36, 36 SE Ocean Blvd., Stuart; (772) 888-3408

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