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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Calm, Inviting Living Room Offers Plenty of Seating

Offering plenty of seating for both conversation and relaxation, this living room will calm your spirit and wrap your soul with a feeling of simple luxury. Gorgeous sage green curtains mimic the greenery visible through the windows, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside.

Stylish Fireside Seating

An upholstered bench wraps all the way around this fireplace, providing cozy fireside seating for multiple guests. Its slim silhouette keeps it from physically or visually crowding the room.

Modern Dining Room With Mediterranean Flair

A great spot for adults and kids alike, this stylish dining room includes a table with a high lacquer finish to ward off stains, durable leather on the chairs and acrylic backs to stave off grubby hand prints. To balance out the look, the designer chose a funky but elegant chandelier that could equally be at home in a posh nightclub as it is a formal parlor room.

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.

Mediterranean Contemporary Family Room

This fun, warm family room also works as a great room as it shares an open space with the kitchen and dining area. The designer felt the room needed to honor that openness and connect the spaces while retaining its own identity. For the reason, having a low-profile sofa with an adjustable back that lifts up or sets down delineates the family room without being a barrier.

Bird Artwork Sets the Tone for Nature-Inspired Living Room

A custom painting by Thomas Swanston serves as the focal point of this nature-inspired living room. Below, a charming fireplace is backed with brick set in a herringbone pattern. An upholstered bench wraps all the way around the fireplace, providing fireside seating.

Photo By: Emily Jenkins Followill

Serene Living Room Features Mounted Animal Head

A mounted animal head sculpture is centered on the coffee table, adding drama to this calm, relaxed seating area. Velvet sage green pillows lend texture to the space.

Bright Bay Window Houses Game Nook

A game table is tucked into the beautiful bay window in this living room, providing the perfect nook for afternoon puzzles. A whimsical mobile adds a playful touch overhead.

Transitional Living Room Is Comfortable, Stylish

Comfortable upholstered seating abounds in this stylish living room. When the sofas and armchairs are occupied, slide a tufted stool out from under the console table.

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

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