5 Genius Decorating Tips, According to Actual Art Teachers

Interior Decoration Design

5 Genius Decorating Tips, According to Actual Art Teachers

From the first time we picked up a paintbrush in preschool to Art History 101, and every attempted self-portrait in between, art teachers have been our mark for creative pursuits. In adulthood, back-to-school season doesn’t necessarily mean a fresh haircut and a new pair of squeaky white sneakers, but fall can still be a great time to hit refresh—especially when it comes to your space.

Give your home a back-to-school glow up with these tips from those who taught us how to be creative. Below, four art teachers share their best tips for decorating. From color theory to adding personalized touches, consider this Artful Design 101:

Limit Your Use of Color

When it comes to color in the home, art gurus say it is best to practice some restraint. “A lot of art teachers love color, and I do too,” explains Kelly Berwager, visual arts coordinator at Alabama’s Troy University. “But I’m not one to make every room every color of the rainbow. It has to flow. We’re redoing our house right now, and I’m using a green throughout that ties things together.”

“Neutrals are your friend, they help offset color,” agrees Michelle Peacock, a visual arts teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Also, check out the psychology of color to help you choose.”

Embrace Negative Space

“There is beauty in open space. Just like a painting, it gives the eye a place to rest,” Peacock says. But in a small apartment, that can be easier said than done. Pros say to get creative with storage so that every item has its place.

“I hate clutter,” admits Brandie Grogan, printmaking coordinator at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “I love organizing things in creative ways, like with a big shelving unit where everything has a home to be put away. If you have all this stuff everywhere in a small space, it’s overwhelming and makes it look smaller.”

Bring Your Travels Home

“Bring something home from your travels to that is nice and suggestive of that place,” offers Marymount Manhattan College professor E. Genevieve Williams.

For Berwager, that’s always pottery: “I paint and do multimedia pieces, but I love to collect other artists’ work. Pottery isn’t my thing, so I love to collect other artists’ pieces when I travel.” The result, she says, is an interior that tells a story.

Rethink White Walls

“In galleries, there’s a reason the walls are always white,” says Grogan. “You want the artwork to pop out. I tend to do furniture and couches neutral and let the artwork or an accent throw rug be the focus.”

For small spaces, Williams swears by Benjamin Moore’s White Opulence in a pearl finish. “The pearl pulls in the light, so if you don’t get direct light in your apartment, it will look a lot brighter,” she explains, emphasizing that in her experience, Benjamin Moore is the only way to go.

Get Personal

“I love going to flea markets and finding old stuff to decorate with,” Grogan notes. “I like stuff that has history.”

The artist recently found old balloon molds at a flea market. She bought nine and hung them in a grouping on the wall. “It’s a conversation starter,” she adds. “Everyone is like, ‘What is that?'”

In Berwager’s office, every piece has a story. “I bought a potholder from the Gee Bend quiltmakers, and I have it in my office,” she says. “I have a joke that I got to meet the ladies behind these extraordinary quilts, and that I have an original.”