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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Quirky Collection of Corkscrews

Antique corkscrews are unique wall decor in the kitchen.

Photo By: Melanie Millner

Striking Apartment Living Room with Unique Artwork

Small but striking, this contemporary living room uses a rug to set apart its seating area. The cream sofa blends into the neutral walls helping the sightline feel open while custom elements like the unique artwork punctuate the sophisticated design.

Photo By: Melanie Millner

Chic Art Adds Pizzazz to Country-Style Entry

The bright colors in this funky painting add a chic element to this country-style foyer. A warm wood console with a leather catchall provides a great place to stash keys upon entering the home.

Transitional Bedroom With Canopy Bed

A palette of gray and icy blue creates a tranquil visual harmony that's still high impact. The bedroom furniture has slim, transitional lines exemplified by the black canopy bed.

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.

Country Chic Kitchen With Oversized Island

From the brown and cream palette to the rooster decor, this design is an updated twist on country chic. The oversized kitchen island anchors the open plan kitchen with utility and stylishness.

Neutral-Hued Breakfast Nook Exudes Cottage Charm

Wicker armchairs, a floral Roman shade and vintage-style glass pendants create a cottage feel in this neutral-hued breakfast nook. An upholstered bench features a clean-lined silhouette for a more contemporary touch.

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.

Gray Herringbone Flooring

The exquisite herringbone floor is a unifying design element in the open plan space.

Glamorous, Contemporary Living Room

Crisp white walls and furniture paired with neutral accents brighten up this glamorous, contemporary living room. Two white sofas flank a white mantel and display modern art.

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