Learn How Art Teaches You About Your Home Design Style

Struggling with how to spice up the design of a plain room? Atlanta designer Melanie Millner explains how art can show you how to take a blank canvas and turn it into your favorite space in your home.

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It's a common affliction for homeowners looking to furnish and decorate their home — having an empty room or bare walls and no idea where to start. But for Atlanta-based interior designer Melanie Millner, it's the perfect launching point for beautiful design.

Transitional Living Room Embraces Woodsy Surroundings

Transitional Living Room Embraces Woodsy Surroundings

This living room's color palette of soft neutrals and sage green pulls from the home's woodsy surroundings to create a calm, nature-inspired atmosphere. A vaulted ceiling lends a sense of grandeur to the space, while upholstered seating ensures the room feels cozy and inviting.

Photo by: Emily Jenkins Followill

Emily Jenkins Followill

Millner, founder and president of The Design Atelier, loves to start with clean, white walls when working with clients. Where does she go from there? It's all about finding the right piece of art.

"We try to find that thing that resonates with the client and try to build the room around that," she says. "It’s so personal, and it makes a room interesting. It has to have meaning."

When a client falls in love with a piece of art, it reveals more about their tastes — colors they love and styles that make them comfortable — which then sets the tone for the design of the space.

Colors in the artwork inform fabric choices for window coverings, colors of accent pillows and sofas and even wood tones for furniture. Shapes in the brush strokes of paintings can be echoed in the shapes of table legs or in the prints and patterns on the rugs. 

Spacious Living Room With Built-In Bookcases

Spacious Living Room With Built-In Bookcases

In the pretty living room, color unites different details for a balanced whole while collectibles add a hint of personality to the off-white bookshelves.

Photo by: Melanie Millner

Melanie Millner

Artwork can even inspire the overall style of the room, such as a painting of a cow presiding in a rustic room with wood paneling or artwork of cranes in flight inspiring an open, airy feel in a living room.

All of those design decisions creates a personal feel for homeowners. "You can’t really pinpoint it," Millner says. "It just feels a certain way. I don’t really care to just come in and design a space that I like. I want them to feel like it’s truly theirs."

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Quaint Breakfast Nook

Just off the kitchen, this quaint breakfast nook has room for the whole family. Upholstered dining chairs surround a round dining table for a casual place to gather.

Photo By: Melanie Millner

White Country-Style Living Room With Linen Sofa

White paneled walls are the perfect blank canvas for this farmhouse living room. A linen sofa with earth-toned pillows creates an inviting seating area, and a trio of framed art keeps the room feeling stylish.

Contemporary Studio / Office

This home office gets a contemporary look from a table and chairs with a sleek design. The sleek lighting and no-nonsense furnishings give the space a functional, contemporary feel.

Photo By: Melanie Millner

Transitional Living Room Features Soothing Neutral Tones

Soft, soothing tones of beige and gray fill this transitional living room, evoking a feeling of comfort and tranquility. A stone fireplace keeps the room warm, and zebra-print pillows add a punch of pizzazz.

White Farmhouse Bedroom With Wood Shutter Headboard

White walls and linen curtains make this farmhouse bedroom feel fresh and light. A pastel quilt, wood shutter headboard and French grain sack pillows add homespun charm to the simplified space.

Rustic Wine Tasting Area

Upholstered chairs surround a small, round table just outside the wine cellar in this basement. The wine tasting area, which boasts a rustic vibe, is perfect for entertaining. Bold artwork beckons from the connecting music room.

White Country-Style Bedroom With Red Iron Headboard

A red iron bed and bold blue door add country-inspired color to this white farmhouse bedroom. An industrial metal lamp provides reading light in the relaxing space.

Transitional Living Room Embraces Woodsy Surroundings

This living room's color palette of soft neutrals and sage green pulls from the home's woodsy surroundings to create a calm, nature-inspired atmosphere. A vaulted ceiling lends a sense of grandeur to the space, while upholstered seating ensures the room feels cozy and inviting.

Elegant, White Living Room with Fireplace

A fireplace with a stark white surround provides contrast in this contemporary living room, which features a bright white color palette. The furniture creates a perimeter to define the space and add elegant texture.

Photo By: Melanie Millner

Reclaimed Barn Wood Sofa Table

The top of this custom built sofa table is reclaimed wood from an old barn floor. The edges have been burned to preserve and darken the wood.

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