CH&L: This home is so airy and sophisticated and just plain pretty. Tell us how you got started.
Andrea Schumacher: The house really set the stage. It’s an old Colonial-style home in Denver’s Country Club neighborhood, on one of the best streets in the area. That alone was inspirational, to dig my hands into Denver history. The couple that owns it is young; they wanted the house to feel young and traditional, but not stuffy.
What’s the secret to that balance?
We used clean lines and a soft palette in the family and living rooms. I love to use neutral backgrounds and add pops of color with the art, rugs and pillows. We took a more playful approach in the dining room, incorporating bold color with classic toile wallpaper [from Osborne & Little]. It really gives what could have been a boring room some life and excitement. We had a little fun in the powder room, too, with the modern, graphic pattern of the F. Schumacher wallpaper. The room is just the little gem of the house.
What else do you love about this space?
My favorite pieces are the [Kravet] desk behind the sofa in the living room and the buffet in the dining room [a one-of-a-kind piece imported from Brownstone Furniture]. They add life and a little sparkle. The same goes for the dining table in the breakfast room; it’s a hammered stainless steel top on a wood base. I love the overall softness of the house, and it has the right amount of punch, which makes it exciting and relaxing at the same time. There’s enough eye candy to make you want to know more, but not so much that it’s sensory overload.
The art is beautiful. Did you have to design around the owners’ collection, or did you help them select these pieces?
The homeowners gave me a lot of suggestions. There’s a huge Chinese screen from Eron Johnson Antiques that we hung on an 8-foot-by-10-foot wall; it takes up the whole wall. I showed them a landscape from Walker Fine Art, and they fell in love. It turned out that the artist [Jared Hankins] went to school with the homeowner, and they commissioned him to do a piece. It’s a beautiful landscape—moody and gorgeous. In the dining room, I suggested a Quim Bové piece. I’ve used his work in multiple homes. It’s simple; he uses layers of lacquer and varnish to get rich, deep texture.
It’s a great mix of pieces. We love when homeowners just choose what they love and make it work.
That’s the key to art. My grandmother was an artist—she studied [at the Academy of Fine Arts] in Vienna and was friends with Salvador Dali in Paris. She has pieces in the British Museum, and my house is full of her work. It’s very European. I love the pairing of her work with clean-lined upholstered furnishings; or a homeowner could blend contemporary art with traditional [furniture] pieces. Never be afraid to mix it up.
The Art of Collecting
You love the idea of owning original art, but cringe at the thought of maneuvering the mysterious world of art buying. The truth is that building a beautiful and interesting collection is easier than you might think:
Visit galleries. You don’t have to know Degas from Dali to enjoy a stroll through an art gallery, where you’ll cultivate a feel for what you like. In Denver, you can find a good list of current and upcoming gallery exhibits at the Denver Art Dealers Association’s website, denverart.org.
Get the scoop. Ask questions about work you like. “Tell me about this artist,” is a good place to start.
Don’t “match.” Your art doesn’t have to match the sofa or rug—and in fact, “that’s so not the point,” says designer Andrea Schumacher. Instead, she says, “Buy what you love and find a place for it. Buying art isn’t like buying curtains.”
Dare to go big. Often, first-time buyers avoid large pieces because they worry about over-committing. But many homes suffer from “tiny art syndrome.” If you have a large blank wall, don’t be shy about selecting art that can fill nearly the whole space.
Go for it. Every collector has a story of the one piece that got away. If an artwork moves or
inspires you, grab it before someone else does.
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