By Marni Fogelson

Published on August 24, 2015

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Photography by metmuseum.org

Visiting art museums is inspiring for interior designers (both professional and amateur!). Not only can you explore how people decorated their dwellings in decades past, but you also might start daydreaming about how beautiful a Diebenkorn might look above your fireplace. Affording original works from your favorite artists might be out of the question, but you can still infuse your home with elements from your favorite artist’s works. Whether choosing a small detail such a vase that would have looked perfectly at home in a Matisse painting, or imagining if Monet might have admired his water lilies from a similar bench, you can easily translate your love of art into decor you can experience every day.

Claude Monet’s Impressionist masterpieces from Giverny are beloved and recognized the world over. A garden bench for gazing at water lilies or for simply admiring your own garden is spacious enough for several guests to sit (or for one to relax). A floral garden stool can serve as an additional seat or a picturesque place to lay a book or a glass of iced tea. A tea light in the shape of a lotus looks very similar to a water lily and casts a gentle glow on any indoor or outdoor soiree. Or consider a watercolor candle with a subtle Impressionist design. A rose pillow in a rich velveteen fabric will bring nature into your living room even when the aromatic scent of blooming roses is months away.

 

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Photography by winslow-homer.com

Winslow Homer was an American landscape and portrait artist and his dramatic seascapes are among his most revered works. Nautical accents are timeless, whether your home has a waterfront view or is positively landlocked. A cozy club chair makes a perfect place to crash at the end of the long day. A multipurpose bar console brings clean, sturdy wooden design and plenty of storage space for entertaining indoors or out. Nautical-themed details such as napkin rings, seagrass wrapped glasses, or an anchor bottle opener make perfect gifts when staying at someone’s beach house. 

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Photography by markrothko.org

Rothko famously refused to identify himself with any school of artists, but his broad striped paintings are instantly recognizable. Translating these lines into your home immediately brings a sophisticated and modern look. The clean lines of a striped cotton rug give a bathroom elegant simplicity. A soft and cozy fleece throw blends in with almost any décor and will be much appreciated as the nights get cooler. Striped pillows add drama to sofas or solid bedding. The playful colors of a dip dye curtain give this bathroom staple a little personality. Even contrasting colors and stripes mug some abstract beauty to a traditional mug design. 

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Photography by metmuseum.org

Many of George Seurat’s most famous paintings were comprised entirely of tiny, distinct, colorful dots that together created a larger image. Going dotty in the details is a fun, playful nod to Seurat’s time-intensive approach. Try pillowcases with small spots or a cherry tomato design on a tea towel. A placemat with dot cutouts make a place setting more elegant. Even a water glass is elevated with a handblown dot design and texture.

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Photography by henrirousseau.org

Henri Rousseau’s paintings often included animals in a wild landscape. This self-taught painter was derided during his lifetime for having a childish style, but he influenced many later avant-garde artists (and is also especially kid-friendly as a result of all of those animals).  A botanical wallpaper, similar to Rousseau’s leafy landscapes, adds a funky, tropical ambiance. A zebra print bench brings a little wildness to an otherwise traditional shape. A brightly colored pendant lamp features a menagerie of beautifully embroidered animals. An animal-themed pillow uses the same embroidery techniques, continuing the animal-friendly theme.

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Photography by pablopicasso.org

Picasso’s blue period, between 1901 and 1904, yielded some of his most popular works and the variations in hue and emotion are both inspiring and approachable. Blue is often chosen as a calming color in homes, but it can also be energizing and a more colorful alternative to decorating with basic black or white. A blue spiral water glass and a vintage salad plate and instant appeal to a dinner gathering. A coffee table brings a serene style with its lighter shade of blue, while a white topped desk/work station hides colorful legs. A cozy outdoor chair looks nap-worthy, and a blue bed frame adds color without dominating a design scheme. 

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Photography by gauguinprints.com

Gauguin’s travels and tenures in Tahiti yielded lush, colorful portraits and floral studies. For a modern jungalow feel, bring the outside world in. Try a watercolor pouf in saturated island colors; it’s big enough to serve as an extra seat or makeshift table. The Acapulco chair looks like an elephant ear plant and adds drama wherever you place it. Savor the island flavor all year long with palm leaves in a bubble vase or with your very own banana tree. A tulip tree lamp brings a pop of color and a dab of whimsy.

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Photography by wnpr.org

Matisse loved to travel and visited Africa several times. One of his favorite locations was Morocco, a locale that has inspired home décor trends for decades and continues its popular reign today.  A traditional pouf instantly makes your living room lounge-worthy (as well as sketch-worthy). A mirror incorporates the arch shape commonly found in Morocco. Moroccan tea glasses add instant exoticism to an otherwise humble cup of tea.  The shape of this vase is decidedly modern, but the sunshine yellow color is all Matisse. A diamond pillow includes folded up fabric to add texture with a pattern reminiscent of African block prints. Many of Matisse’s interior paintings feature figures lounging around on sofas and settees-recreate the vibe with a tufted loveseat.