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The art of style

CHOOSING art for your home can be daunting and many clients ask for my guidance in this important step of accessorising their homes.

My advice is: choose with your heart rather that your head. If you find a piece that you absolutely love - and can afford it - buy it.

I often come across pieces I must have when I am not seriously looking; however I tell myself that there will be a suitable place somewhere ... even if I have to move the photos of the kids or take down the kitchen clock to make space. I have learned the hard way with too many regrets of not buying when I saw something that really appealed.

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It takes years to build up a collection of interesting art and you need to be patient otherwise expensive mistakes will be made.

When I am designing show homes, I select pieces that co-ordinate with the interior. However, when it comes to your own home you can be a bit more adventurous and select art that is a complete contrast or choose something that will surprise or shock. This is your home so find something that will reflect your personality, whether it is a £5 find at a car boot sale or an interesting piece whose price tag will curtail your social life for the next 12 months.

So where do you find interesting art? Independent galleries are the most obvious choice to start with. Subscribe to the mailing list and you will be updated with information on new exhibitions and artists. There are certain areas where there are a number of galleries quite close together so do your research and organise a route that will allow you to visit the galleries you are interested in. Make it a day trip with a good pub lunch to keep up your energy for trailing around the galleries.

Look in local interior design and gift shops. In Ollaberry, Clarkston, we show a selection of original paintings by local artists as well as a collection of affordable prints.

Auctions

Auctions are also great places to pick up original artwork by established artists, but it can take time to find what you are looking for. I recommend checking the online catalogues in advance to see what is on offer. Often you can preview the sale the day before so even if you can't make it to the auction you could do a telephone or written bid. However, I think that bidding in person is much more fun.

Degree shows

Art school degree shows are another enjoyable way to pick up bargains from new up-and-coming artists and designers. Around May-June each year, the doors open to the public and the buildings are turned into huge gallery spaces celebrating the work of artists, designers, filmmakers and architects. Even if you don't find something for your wall, you may come home with a piece of jewellery or something for your coffee table from the ceramics department. I find it an inspiring day out even if I come home empty-handed.

Festivals

The nine-day Pittenweem Arts Festival, which runs until the end of today, is a celebration of the visual arts, and hosts more than 100 exhibitions including local and internationally known artists. You can meet the artists and craftmakers in galleries, homes, studios and public venues throughout the historic village and all within walking distance. Keep up to date with other art festivals at visitscotland.com

Framing

Once you have selected your artwork, choose your frames carefully: they can make or break a piece of art. In general, less is more: you do not want the frame to be the feature with your eyes drawn to that rather than the painting. Personally I find silver and gold frames a bit distracting and think flat-coloured frames usually complement the artwork better.

Tips

l If you are looking for a piece to fill a particular wall, take a photo of the area and the dimensions of the space. Even a picture that looks big in the gallery could be lost on the wall when you take it home.

l An easy, low-cost way to update your artwork is to paint the existing frame. I helped one of my clients select a colour that co-ordinated with their paintings, and it transformed the old-fashioned gilt frames. This will save you the cost of reframing and works well with wooden or painted frames.

l Rotate your artwork every couple of years. It will bring a new dimension to your interior and it can be surprising how well pieces look in other rooms. The last time I did this it took an entire day and we had to fill the walls where old fittings were and touch up with paint - a bit of a hassle but worth it.

l The Own Art scheme, which is available in over 250 galleries, makes buying art affordable by letting you spread the cost of your purchase over 10 months with an interest-free loan. The loans can be used for the purchase of any contemporary art or craft from paintings and drawings to sculpture and ceramics and you can borrow from as little as £100 to £2500. www.ownart.org.uk

Lisa McLaughlin, Ollaberry, 146 Busby Road, Clarkston, G76 8BH.www.ollaberry.com

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