Tappan’s Chelsea Neman Nassib On Why Art Should (Sometimes) Come First When Decorating

It actually makes perfect sense.

art in new space

Decorating a new home can feel a lot like one big, never-ending jigsaw puzzle. There are countless moving parts, all of which are equally important — and, if you’re not a professional, equally confounding as well. Yet while many aspects will naturally find their place, there’s one detail that often presents more of a challenge. If you guessed artwork, you’d be correct. Sure, it seems like you could just throw it on the walls at the end and be done. However, picking art for a new space is more difficult than it may initially seem.

In fact, there are many challenges you could encounter in this scenario that may not be obvious. For example, when should you incorporate art into a space — before you decorate, or after? How do you know what pieces to bring over from a previous collection? How do you start a new collection if you don’t have one already? And where do you display everything once you have it?

You get the picture (no pun intended): There’s more to consider about adding artwork to your new home (and finding pieces for it) than it may seem. And if you just realized you need help, you’re in luck. TZR recently sat down with Chelsea Neman Nassib, co-founder of online art store Tappan, to get her advice. Not only does she have years of experience in the art industry, but she’s also in the process of redoing a space of her own. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more credible source on the topic, and her tips and tricks back this up. Read on to find out what she has to say, and get ready to start filling your new space like a pro in no time.

Find Your Style

Of course, you may already have a whole collection of artwork. However, if you’re moving into your first space or just have never paid attention to the decor before, there’s a chance you’re starting fresh. And in that case, you need to uncover your style as you search for new pieces.

Yes, that sounds like a daunting task. But Nassib actually breaks down a potential process for this in a very straightforward way. “Basically, start looking,” she tells TZR over Zoom. Essentially, she continues, it’s a lot like fashion: You can go the mainstream route and buy what everyone else is buying. But what you really want to do is come up with your own unique style. “So going to museums, going to galleries, looking online, and just understanding what you like and don't like is the first step.”

Then, she says, find trusted galleries or spaces to buy from, ask a lot of questions about what you’re into — and go for it. “Buy what you can afford,” she continues. “Buy what makes sense to you and just start, because it's a lot of fun and you get a good sense of who you are over time.”

Start With The Artwork

Honestly, basing an entire room off of artwork sounds like sort of a wild move, especially if you don’t yet have much of a collection. Yet Nassib says that for many spaces, this approach can actually make the most sense. She gives an example scenario to illustrate her point.

“Let's say you're reupholstering a couch, and you've got 37 different shades of blue that you could pick from and it's so hard to choose. Then you finally do, and now you're stuck trying to find artwork to finish the room. Whereas if you had flipped it and you chose a painting first, [that] gives you your palette, and you can make your decisions from there. The room becomes so unique and cohesive because the painting has given you its palette.”

She does note, of course, that this can’t always be the case. With more functional rooms, like a kitchen, there sometimes aren’t opportunities to display large artwork, and its other elements dictate the design. In that case, your collected pieces will probably come later — and they’re a way to add smaller touches of personality at the end.

Ask For Help

It’s been established that both finding art you like and incorporating it into a space isn’t always easy. And while Nassib’s tips can help, it’s also important to remember you don’t have to do this alone. “Art is one of those things where people really need that back and forth to help them understand what they like about something, why they like it, and to see more of what they like,” she explains. “So I think it's a great idea to enlist either a friend who's in the arts or somebody you trust to have that dialogue with.” Of course, that could be a creative in your life or a professional designer — it all depends on your needs, who you feel comfortable with, and your budget. You can also look to resources on websites like Tappan to aid you in your process; Nassib cites the brand’s “Art Style Quiz” as one free tool to help you discover what you love.

Have Confidence

All of that advice in mind, Nassib still notes that at the end of the day, the art in your home is an expression of your individuality — not everyone else’s. “I think the big takeaway is to not be nervous and to just go for it. Have fun, because [this process] should be an exciting thing,” she says. “You're learning about artists, you're discovering new things, and then you just put [your pieces] up and they should be inspiring and make you happy.” So pick what you want, hang things high or low, and base an entire room off your artwork — or don’t. There may be traditional “guidelines,” but really, there are no rules. “If you're going to put something in a corner touching the ceiling because you're funky like that, that's cool,” says Nassib.

Feeling inspired? Shop a few artists Nassib loves (as well as some of TZR’s favorite pieces from Tappan), ahead.