Adding Layers to your Interior With Art Prints

June 14, 2019

AD – This post is a collaboration with King & McGaw.
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I love art, natch, who doesn’t?! And in interiors terms it’s key position for storytelling and the impact it has on the walls in a space is second to none for transforming a space.Whilst I really do love art, I visit galleries all the time, and I don’t consider myself a philistine in relation to modern art, there’s something about using the big guns in my home that has always intimidated me. I wasn’t always like this, my teenage bedroom walls were a collage adorned with a tapestry of inspiration just as likely to include situationist artwork, feminist works by Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, twenties photos of the Parisian underworld by Brassai, and any number of twentieth century well known art movements inbetween alongside my musical or cinematic heroes (I wish I still had pictures of all this, I loved that bedroom!). But, somewhere along the way I lost my nerve a little and well known art and I parted ways in the home.
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I think a lot of us feel apprehensive of well known art. Perhaps it’s the combination of overwhelm of choice, of absolute masterpieces, or fear of judgment, perhaps the commitment to just one piece, but most of us are also aware that art is one of the best and most effective ways to add layers to your interior, to tell a story, bring a space to life and transform the feel, and of course to indicate something about your influences and what inspires you. 
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The impact of a small and subtle print in a space;
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I had a bit of a mini revelation when I revamped the dining room last month and committed to buying a reproduction print by one of the most well known artists of the last century, Picasso, yikes . Le Chien, a sausage dog drawing by Picasso which I bought from King & McGaw, is a really simple and elegant piece. It’s just perfect in the space, adding a soft element of interest that really lifts the corner vignette styled around it. I’m not sure I could ever imagine having something mindblowingly incredible like Guernica on my walls still, it would feel a little too much like stealing it’s aura, but this small piece is just perfect here.
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So, when King & McKaw subsequently got in touch to ask if I’d like to work with them, choosing a few pieces for my home, using them to add layers to my home, and finding out a little more about their history in the process, I was delighted. King & McGaw are well known for their commitment to quality, providing services as print makers to all of the major museums and galleries in the UK. Founded in 1982 by Gyr King in his Brighton basement, the company have an impressive archive of art treasures, from screenprints and lithographs in their rarities department, to the more purse friendly digital prints we can all afford.
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Choosing Art;
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When looking through the King & McGaw archive I knew that I would choose a few smaller pieces. I like to use natural tones in my home that mirror nature and add interest with lots of layers. Art is integral to this, walls can feel really sterile and make spaces very uninviting without it. I tend to plan spaces as a series of simple vignettes, I don’t like any one element to dominate, and small but well chosen pieces of art add a charming casual, less-structured, look that feels very natural.
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The Picasso has been such a hit in our dining room, I knew that one of my choices would come from this same series of drawings. I chose Le Moineau for the bedroom as it echoses a similar delicacy to the one in our dining room. I love birds and this simple continuous line drawing brings a quiet elegance and context to the space which in hindsight it really needed. Surrounded by plants, dried flowers, pots made of natural materials and my love of linen, this print provides an anchoring layer to the story telling of the space, grounding the simplicity of our bedroom whilst also amplifying the elements I most want to sing.
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Being bold without dominating a space;
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The second print I chose was a Keith Haring piece full of joy and movement. I have talked before about kinetic energy in art as inspiring and energising spaces where you want to feel creative. I tend to keep art on the walls pretty discreet, as I like my spaces to feel simple and cohesive, but I was specifically breaking out of my self imposed rules here and looking for something with energy. I wanted something that would pop against the dark walls, that would break up the slightly somber feel, and it works so well as a singular layer, quite different to both the style of the room and the other pictures on the wall around it, but it also doesn’t jar, one small piece has provided life to this corner of the room and when I look up at it from the desk it actually makes me feel invigorated.
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Monochrome & Graphic : These Prints are tonally limited but they all use movement which will add layers of kinetic movement to a space.

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Reflecting your style and creating cohesion;
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When adding art to a room your personal style, your story and your personality will obviously have a strong bearing on what you choose. By choosing smaller pieces you really open up the possibility to express yourself, whether that be through adding tension with diverse art movements with different styles and sensibilities, or in creating something beautiful and considered that is perhaps more subtle. I am drawn to purchasing rather a lot of smaller pieces in our home and the real beauty of this is that you can move pieces around without too much hassle. I rotate our prints fairly frequently and this means that our spaces always feel fresh and interesting.
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There is such a versatility about choosing smaller prints to add layers. Where one larger scale piece can add huge impact, it will also dominate, maybe even dictate the feel of a room. On the other hand, a collection of smaller scale pieces gives you freedom to play. You can mix and match bolder pieces amongst more subtle ones, use striking prints for a gallery wall for example, or go for something muted for a casual sophistication, or even the half way house between subtle and bold – monochrome (which feels brave but isn’t domineering).
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Bold and beautiful, colourful prints are a great choice for added a punch of colour to an interior.

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One of the most successful ways to layer can be using colours that you are attracted to and which echo the colours of your home, or colours which compliment your scheme. We have a prevalence of warm muted neutrals in a lot of the rooms in our home and I think black and white prints often add the right amount of weight and tension to these spaces. I love the collection of black and white fashion photography by Vogue that King & McGaw stock. But if you already have a cooler space in greys or whites then punchy colourful prints can be a really stunning option and King & McGaw produce many beautiful colourful prints from Pop Art through to vintage cinema posters, and travel advertising or vintage Penguin Covers.
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From The King & McGaw Rare & Limited Collection.

Having been invited down to King & McGaw’s base in Newhaven, I came away with much inspiration (and a rare print or two that has got my heart racing, it’s a good thing I didn’t see the Matisse exhibition print above in real life as it’s a true favourite). It was fascinating to see their commitment to making true quality pieces, from the Julian Opie digital laser cut collages for an upcoming exhibition in New York to the hand stained frames made for all prints on site. I saw so many wonderful pieces from their collection of 8,000 pieces (purposefully edited so as not to overwhelm) and I came away with so many ideas for future use. I was impressed by King & McGaw’s solid commitment to both sustainability and local manufacturing, from their handmade Somerset paper to their plastic free biodegradable packaging, each small detail has been thought out with this ethos in mind. It was a joy to look around King & McGaws base and see some of the history behind the prints. Which is your favourite from the collection? I’d love to hear in the comments below. If you fancy grabbing yourself some prints for your own home, I have a 15% off discount valid until this Monday on all prints (except limited and rare) with the code RUTH15. Enjoy! 
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