Brooklyn based lifestyle blog by Lauren L Caron


CREATE | 10 Tips On Building A Personalized Art Collection

CREATE, SPACES, VINTAGELauren Caron2 Comments
Gallery wall in our living room - Photography by Lauren L Caron © 2015

Gallery wall in our living room - Photography by Lauren L Caron © 2015

One of the most common questions I am asked on is how did I build my art collection and where did I find my artwork. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy answer to that question, 1. Because my number one resource would have to be my mom. And 2. She did not find all the artwork in one place, but through being a collector for many years. However, all is not lost, because I can suggest the best place to start, and what to look for, and what to be thinking about when you're trying to build a collection of artwork that is unique, personal to you, and elevated in style. Below is my top ten list:



Many of the pieces that I and my mother have are prints and etchings, which are much easier to come by than original paintings or drawings. Many of them were pulled from old books and sell for considerably lower prices than singular works of art. I have a favorite Zebra etching that I purchased at Brimfield for less than $20. I framed and matted it, and it looks much more expensive than you'd ever expect (see below, it fits quite well in my entry).

The Zebra etching, framed in our entryway - photography by Lauren L Caron

The Zebra etching, framed in our entryway - photography by Lauren L Caron



Nice, original, and quality paintings and drawings are hard to come by, and most often are an investment. My mother has a few gorgeous portraits, these were works of art that she invested in - nothing like a Picasso, but something that took a thoughtful considered decision, not an impulsive one, to make the purchase. If you want a gorgeous painting, you're really going to have to love it! You can sometimes find good prices, but no one is completely naive these days, quality is valuable. 

Image from Elle Decor - William Frawley's Manhattan Apartment

Image from Elle Decor - William Frawley's Manhattan Apartment



Mirrors are a beautiful way to fill space and add another layer to your art collections. They're frames alone can be works of art.  Frames even have the ability to change the mood and direction of a collection. The mirror inset is added light and glamour. Another positive, you can find mirrors at a range of prices, sizes and shapes.

Image from Domino   -  photography by WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

Image from Dominophotography by WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ



Budding or unknown artists are often going to sell artwork at a better or more affordable price. There are several new companies starting up, aiming to educated us of these new artists. A perfect example is a friend of mine, Katie Armor who recently started Buddy Editions. Buddy Editions is limited-edition fine art prints, many of which, start at $50.

Abstract No. 4 by Natalia Roman - Buddy Editions

Abstract No. 4 by Natalia Roman - Buddy Editions



If you're on the road and see a shanty thrift or antique store, stop in. You never know what you'll find. Look for yard sales or estate sales that are near you to visit on the weekends. And if you live in the city, keep your eyes peeled on the sidewalk. You truly never know what you'll find. I actually picked up an original, limited edition, signed Shepard Fairy, Noam Chomsky print on the sidewalk waiting to be trashed. The print isn't worth thousands but it is worth hundreds (thanks to the 2008 Election, Hope prints that Fairy designed).



You don't have to spend 20 years of your life scouring fleas and antique stores or auctions to call your collection complete. First of all, a collection is never complete, but secondly, you can also think about mixing in some new pieces in with your old finds. As I mentioned before, there are several companies that sell new artwork that is very reasonable. The mix adds a little style and builds a more personalized collection.

Image from From The Right Bank

Image from From The Right Bank



Remember when the Keep Calm & Carry On posters were all the rage? Did you buy one because everyone else had them? Do you still have it up? Just make sure, when you purchase something that is massively shown in all of the blogs and magazines, it is not something that you've just grown to like due to popular decision. A way to tell if you truly love a very popular piece of artwork, is to think will you still love this even when it's on the uncool list? Because if it's on trend, it will most definitely be off trend at some point. If the answer is yes, then no holds bar. 

Also, have friends or family members ever sent you a beautiful greeting card or post card? Taken an amazing photograph on Instagram? These types of images are also considered works of art, especially if they're something that you find beauty or value in viewing. Frame them. They're yours, they are a part of your personal style. You do not need an art critic to tell they're good. 

Design by Roman & Williams

Design by Roman & Williams



My mother taught me to look for frames whenever I'm at a thrift store or antique store - the trick is to look beyond the empty frames, at the ones that are holding ugly or bad artwork. Often, stores will mark up the cost of an empty frame considerably over an awful piece of artwork that is framed. 



If you make a great relationship with a framer not only will they support and help you in your matting and framing decisions, they also may be a source for future art purchases. If they know what you like, they can be on the look out for you. I mean what they do all day and everyday is frame artwork, some of those pieces that walk in the door will be getting framed to be sold. Also, if you have a great framer, you can buy printed copies of your favorite works and have them matted and framed to meet your personal aesthetic. This way, the artwork will be original because it has been interpreted according to your tastes for your home. 



There isn't one answer on where to find artwork. The best single suggestion I can offer is to never stop looking. My mother has been collecting artwork for over 50 years and she is continuously looking at artwork whenever she enters an antique store, flea market or shops online. Some of my favorite shopping destinations, where I've had the best luck are: Housing Works, Brimfield, The Chelsea Flea Market, Estate sales, and several antique stores in North East Connecticut (where I grew up). Other friends of mine have found gorgeous portrait paintings on Ebay as well.  

Max on the couch - Photography by Lauren L Caron © 2015

Max on the couch - Photography by Lauren L Caron © 2015

I hope this list has been helpful and will aid you in building your wall art collections. Do you have another suggestion or favorite places to dig? Ever had an amazing dumpster dive experience? I'd love to hear about it!

The Latest & Greatest Flea Finds

SPACES, VINTAGELauren Caron2 Comments

In September I finally had the chance to make it to Brimfield. The May Brimfield is usually the best but sometimes you can get some good finds in July and September. I ended up lucking out and finding some great pieces. Now I'm sure all the dealers went in and swooped up the best of the best before I even arrived but unfortunately, this girl has to work for a living and being there on Tuesday at 4 AM is just not possible. My purchases include a  series of hot air balloon prints framed all together, a pair of ceramic parrots and finally, a porter chair! LaurenLCaron©Balloons_01

The Frame - perfect for my collection and so right considering my wedding and love of hot air balloons.






The Birds - They're not super valuable and not in the best of condition. They had a strange layer of brown applied to them to hide the blemishes and chips. I have since removed most of the brown and am okay with the wear and tear. I'm now in search of a pair of Roccoco style gilded brackets that are a large enough depth to support these two. They're slated to be mounted to my bedroom wall.

LaurenLCaron©PorterChair_02 LaurenLCaron©PorterChair_03 LaurenLCaron©PorterChair_04

The Chair - When in the world do you find a Porter chair for $500? When it's this ugly! Now, I know it's so bad right now and all I can imagine is that it was used on the set of Dynasty at one point, but I'm really excited because I have big plans for it! I'm going to remove the gold paint and of course reupholster it. If this chair wasn't so unique in structure I would attempt to do it myself but I'm a little concerned that I may make too many mistakes and waste precious fabric. The fabric I'm using for the chair is more expensive than my usual, because I really want to make a good investment. In the end it is not going to be cheap, but it will be beautiful and exactly what I've always wanted - a handsome porter chair.

5073_06 5073_05

I'm leaning towards the dark mushroom colored brown velvet by Pollack Fabrics but I may go for the lighter mushroom colored one. It's composed of Bamboo, Linen and Cotton and it's finish is so chic! I'm planning to repaint the wood a light warm french gray - probably going to choose a Farrow & Ball color. (Here's a tip - buy two sample pots it will be more than enough paint to cover the whole chair and will cost less than $20!) For finishing details I'm going use dark brass nail heads just along the outside and back of the chair. The nail heads will definitely add to the cost but really, they'll be so chic. I'll post the progress soon. I've already met with the upholsterer, so I can assure you, it's in the works. Thanks for reading.



Lost and Found: A Christmas Dancer's Story

VINTAGELauren Caron3 Comments

Over a year ago, at Brimfield looking for props for an event, we came across this autograph book from the early 1900's. Beginning in the late 1800's, it was common to have an "Autograph" book which you had your friends and family sign when you graduated from high school or college. These books were similar to what we do today with our high school yearbooks. Since I especially fell in love and was so drawn to this little book, I decided to research the woman who once called it her own.


After a bit of research, this is what I found:

Helen O'Brien was a professional dancer who passed away on June 4, 2010 at the age of ninety-six. She was a beloved wife of fifty-two years to the late Walter J. O'Brien.


At age nineteen, Helen danced as a Roxyette, a precursor of the Rockettes, at the Roxy Theater in New York City. For over thirty years, she owned and operated the Helen O'Brien School of Dance in Quincy and Braintree.  She was the oldest student at Cape Cod Community College until age eighty-nine, taking classes for ten years.  - South Coast Today, Obituaries.


Helen left a message on the last page, stating "If by chance; This book should roam, spank it good, and send it home." At first, I wanted to send it back 'home' but after some thought I figured that however this book ended up at the flea market was intentional. Probably a part of an estate sale.

When I read through this book, I imagine the her friends and loved ones signing sweet poems and notes to wish her well on journey through adulthood. She was quite beautiful and apparently talented and bright. She lived a long fruitful life, which continues to be remembered by more than just her family. I hope if anyone who once knew her comes across this post, will send me a message. Until then, I'll make sure to keep it safe but I would love to send it back home. . .

A little the history of the Rockettes: The Missouri Rockets formed in 1925 by Russell Markert in St. Louis.  The troupe was discovered and purchased by Samuel Roxy, where he brought them to New York City, when he doubled their size and renamed them the Roxyette's.  They first appeared in New York on December 27, 1932, which was opening night for the Radio City Music Hall.


Read her full obituary [here]

More information on The Roxyettes [here].

Bedroom Updates Part 2: The Chandelier


For the second part of my bedroom updates series I wanted to discuss the new light fixture. Remember the pretty chandelier we purchased at Brimfield for under $200.00?

I wanted to refinish the metal because it was spray painted an unattractive gold color that looked flat and fake. I chose a Modern Masters Antique Bronze ME204 finish that I painted on with a brush then sponged off.  I focused the darker bronze color around the crevasses and details. What this did was give the material depth and integrity. After refinishing the metal I had to clean all of the crystals individually by hand. This took some time but it was totally worth it.

Jack installed the chandelier but ran into some issues with our old wiring. He also had to build a circular holder in which he could drill into to keep the chandelier from falling. He's still thinks that someday we'll wake to crystals crashing on our legs.


Update: Entryway Additions

CREATE, SPACESLauren CaronComment

Last weekend I made a lengthy list of things to do.  I also committed to finishing at least three things on that list during the weekend. Although very they may have been minimal tasks we did manage to check off three things: hang entryway mirror, refinish new chandelier, add basket to my bike. We also started a few other projects on the list, but have yet to finish them.


The first task we completed on the list was to hang the entryway mirror. I recently decided I wanted a much larger mirror in my entry than the current convex one. Luckily, my mother had one that she was willing to give up. I also purchased a chevron rug from Ballard Designs that I love - it was a great price at $35.00. I'm really excited about hanging the wallpaper (it has arrived!) and adding a Sputnik Chandelier, which I think will really pull the whole space together.

Photos by: Lauren Gries

Resources: Mirror, Lamp, bookends, chair, artwork - Antique (chair & zebra print from Brimfield), desk - custom designed and made by Jack Caron, zebra box - Homegoods, porcelain box - Tiffany & Co., chair fabric - B&J Fabrics,  Umbrella - Scalamandré, umbrella stand - Jamali Garden, rug - Ballard Designs.