Injecting instant history and character into your art collection, vintage paintings are a long-time decorator favorite. Anyone with a keen eye is rewarded with an instant heirloom, or what can look like a priceless masterpiece (without that unmentionable price tag attached). For those new to the vintage painting game, we asked Austin-based designer Shannon Eddings, who’s recent redo of the historic Carr Mansion in Galveston, TX featured paintings aplenty, to give us the lowdown on how to decorate with vintage paintings. Here, she shares her strategy for everything from buying, to framing and hanging. And if you have yet to take the vintage painting plunge, our editors have picked a few of their favorites.
What do you look for when shopping for vintage paintings?
I’m open to any style so I am generally drawn to the colors, composition and size first. Frames are a factor as well, as I’m more inclined to buy something that is already in a cool frame. I’m open to any style for the most part, but I know that when shopping for clients landscapes and abstract paintings are going to be my safest options for reselling. I like the colors to be largely muted so that they will play well with other other things going on in the space already. It’s a huge bonus to me if the frame is already in decent shape and not an eyesore.
What type of vintage paintings do you personally tend to buy?
I’m personally drawn to quirky portraits of people, impressionist vintage landscapes and a nicely done nude. I stay away from portraits of children or anything that feels super ‘specific’ and instead look for an overall cool factor about the painting. It’s either got it or it doesn’t! Color and overall mood are everything. My favorite pieces from our personal home are my portrait of a man that looks like Hemingway and a portrait of a cowboy that we purchased at an antique store in Santa Fe.
Can you share a few tips for successfully mixing vintage paintings with contemporary art?
I would say the key is to go super contemporary or abstract on some pieces and then mix those with a very vintage feeling piece in order to highlight the juxtaposition between the two. I also like to pepper in some nice modern photography as well. As long as they fit together size wise and have a similar feel – whether it’s the overall color or the theme – then it’s pretty easy to mix them. It’s usually like a good puzzle and once it clicks into place, it really looks nice!
What are a few ways you like to display vintage paintings together (i.e. by theme or color)?
I like to group by color in my home or in my client’s homes, but when given the chance to do a theme, I love it. I hung a giant wall of nautical and beach themed paintings at a recent B&B Hotel I designed on the Texas coast and it turned out to be a super fun, high impact space to linger.
Any unexpected spots where you think a vintage painting can be really impactful?
One of my favorite ways to use vintage paintings is by popping one in an unexpected space such as a newly remodeled bathroom or in a kitchen. I love new build homes and remodels but really enjoy being able to add something with history and character to the space once it’s complete. Vintage paintings really bring that to a freshly redone kitchen or bath.
Any thoughts on framing? Are there certain frame styles you like to pair with vintage paintings? Do you ever go sans frame?
I love a good, clean lined brass or brushed gold frame with a vintage painting. With more modern art, I like to float pieces in a simple, Scandinavian-style wood frame (think white oak or something similar). I have to say, everything looks pretty good in-between acrylic. It’s a fun and unexpected method of framing. I only go sans frame if the it’s a painting on canvas and looks good from the side.
All Photos Courtesy of Shannon Eddings Interiors