Artful Living

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Paulette Smith’s southwest Ocala home is a veritable library. An English professor at Central Florida Community College, Paulette insists on strict standards for her students’ writing, but she throws out the rules when it comes to displaying art. She easily mixes limited edition prints, original paintings, and antiques into her wall collages.  

As Paulette admits, walking into her house almost “amounts to sensory overload.” When she built the house, she realized she didn’t need much square footage, but she wanted ample wall space to display her art and antiques. Paulette worked with a builder to customize her home with 12-foot ceilings. She then carefully selected wall colors to complement her art collection.

“When people think of art galleries,” says Paulette, “they think of white walls, but I wanted a dramatic, darker, yet neutral palette. I chose dark golds and khakis with undertones of green. The wall colors seem appropriate in terms of the themes and they unify the artistic displays.”

Her use of dark walls and light matting allows the paintings and prints to stand out against the walls, much like white molding against a painted wall. The contrast adds drama, yet still unifies the house.

“No clichés in writing,” adds Paulette, “and none in decorating, especially the ‘rule’ that says art should be hung at eye level.”

In this home, prints are stacked over one another and soar over large furniture pieces in novel displays that use every inch of her space. She also mixes pieces together based on theme or frame.

“I don’t like things that are cookie cutter. They should have similarities, but they should not be identical,” says Paulette.

The bonus is that pieces are easily incorporated without requiring immediate financial investment.

“As a teacher, I‘ve never had an extensive budget, but I buy what I like and add to my collection over time,” notes Paulette, who also draws upon a poetic sense of texture to compose collages of wicker baskets, antique mirrors, and printed trays to give the groupings a dynamic feel.

“Poetry and beauty are found in everyday things, whether a plate, tray, or mirror,” says Paulette. “Functional items can have wonderful lines and artistic appeal.”

One such collage is anchored in her first and favorite piece, an etching by her sister-in-law, Billie Smith, of whittling cowboys. The grouping hangs over a cheetah-print occasional chair overflowing with needlepoint and tapestry pillows and faux animal skin throws in her living room. The collage includes antique mirrors, architectural pieces, and greenery. Another favorite grouping rests in her library and consists of a black and white photograph of her dad when he was a big band saxophonist paired with an original lithograph of Eric Clapton given to her by a friend.

“The things most important to me in my home are my art, my books, and my music,” says Paulette. “My home is not just where I sleep; it’s where I live. It’s important for me—for anyone—to be surrounded by the things we love.”

The use of dark walls and light matting allows
the artwork to stand out.

Paulette uses a variety of items to bring color
and contrast into her home.

Paulette Smith

Posted in Ocala Style Features

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