A beautiful interior offers the perfect setting for treasured collections, from paintings and sculpture to classic cars and vintage wine. Janine Stone spoke to Country Life's Giles Kime to share her advice on how to got about creating the perfect display space.
If you explore Britain’s greatest country houses, it becomes obvious their beauty doesn’t solely rely on architecture, but also on the treasures that fill them. An integral part of the houses’ magic, art has also served a variety of functions over the centuries, from demonstrating family ties to plotting the path of foreign travel — particularly in the 18th century, when paintings and classical sculpture transformed houses into monuments to their owners’ Grand Tour.
Today, the best collections are similarly eclectic, reflecting the breadth of an individual’s tastes and interests. In this respect, collecting art can offer an opportunity for people to express their personalities, as well as creating spaces that are both distinctive and individual. For the interior designer, incorporating a collection into a house is both an exciting opportunity and a challenge. Although art adds soul to a space, it needs a setting that is both sympathetic and pleasant to live in.
A designer with long experience in juggling these different elements is Janine Stone, whose practice is responsible for the design of some of the world’s most luxurious homes, both new and old. Her work not only demonstrates the magic that art adds to a room, but also how it can be seamlessly integrated with the best of 21st-century living. Here, she examines the transformative possibilities of combining great art and design.
What advice do you have for anyone keen to start a collection?
The more you look at beautiful works of art, the sooner you’ll discover the styles, subjects and art forms to which you are instinctively drawn. The longer you look, the deeper your interest and passion are likely to be. Public and commercial galleries, both actual and virtual, offer a rich seam of inspiration wherever you happen to be in the world.
What’s the best way for collectors to display paintings?
So much is dictated by style and size. Displaying paintings in isolation will put more emphasis on each one than hanging a number in close proximity. However, grouping artworks with a similar theme or subject matter can create the layered, eclectic feel of an art gallery.
It’s also vital to consider the sight lines from the positions at which an artwork is most likely to be viewed and how these interact with both furniture and architecture.
What role does lighting play in displaying artwork?
In spaces that are softly lit — or have little light at all — it is important that works of art are bathed in a sympathetic light that makes them more visible. However, lighting should not be so strong that it distorts the appearance of an object — and the source of light should always be as discreet as possible.
Is it best to integrate collections or to create a dedicated space?
Much depends on the depth and breadth of your art collection. Ceramics and glass lend themselves to being displayed in illuminated, wall-mounted cabinets and they can look striking in a space that has been designed for the purpose. A large, airy, well-lit space is also the ideal setting for sculpture. Both can be easily be accommodated in entrance halls and other internal circulation areas.
How is it possible to ensure that a piece sits happily within an interior?
The rules are the same as those for incorporating any other element in a space; there needs to be a harmonious balance between scale, proportion, colour and texture. It’s not about an item or artwork matching its setting — sometimes, a dramatic contrast can work brilliantly. Instead, there needs to be a mix.
An important and sometimes overlooked aspect of artwork is the frame: in a period setting, there’s no doubt that an ornate frame can complement both a painting and the room where it is displayed. However, in a more pared back space, artworks with simple frames — or without one — can often sit more happily.
What about other collections?
A gallery-style space is not only the perfect setting in which to store a vintage car, but also allows its owner to enjoy it in comfortable, well-lit surroundings. Beautifully lit vintage wines also create a striking backdrop to tasting rooms.
Janine Stone & Co specialises in building and renovating residential projects, incorporating architecture, interior design and construction management, and has been providing Country Life with professional insights and expertise through this ‘Masterclass’ series for the past few months — down below you can see links to more of Janine’s masterclasses.
To speak with Janine Stone & Co about your project, please telephone 020–7349 8888 or visit www.janinestone.com
In the third of our series of masterclasses, interior designer Janine Stone answers questions from Giles Kime about how to