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The First Thing Portia de Rossi Picks Out When Decorating a Room

Portia de Rossi

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Portia de Rossi wants to hang fine art in your home. The actress (who is married to Ellen DeGeneres) is the creator behind General Public, an art company that uses 3-D technology to reproduce paintings. Instead of a traditional print, you're left with a synograph—an almost identical reproduction of an original work of art from color to texture.

"I wanted to bridge the gap between the decorative and the fine art market," de Rossi tells MyDomaine. The pristine white halls of a typical art gallery and the price tags on original works can understandably be enough to deter an art novice from beginning a personal collection.

That's why de Rossi was determined to find another way for everyone to enjoy art in their own homes. "Although many folks have an appreciation of art and would like to own good works by good artists, not everyone wants to learn about the art market, or they find collecting—and the galleries—intimating," says de Rossi.

As unapproachable as the art world can seem, there are plenty of ways to bring beautiful art into your home, no matter your budget or art background. According to de Rossi, all it takes is a bit of research and an understanding of your own personal style.

Portia de Rossi at restoration hardware
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for RH 

Ahead, she shares her best advice for how to buy artwork and style it in your home.

Learn the Basics

For the uninitiated, de Rossi recommends beginning in a very logical place. "Start by learning the very basics about 20th century and contemporary art," she suggests. Thanks to the internet, you don't have to enroll in art history 101 to gain a better understanding of who the game-changing artists were and why their works mattered. "Just a small amount of research can really inform art purchases and make collecting art a more pleasurable experience," she says. "Learn from the greats, and discover artists who have similar qualities." Start your research by looking up a few of de Rossi's favorite artists like Cy Twombly, Jenny Saville, Christopher Wool, Joan Mitchell, and Wade Guyon.

seb sweatman 44
Seb Sweatman 44 $3,645.00

Consider Scale

Gone are the days when you had to visit a gallery in person to make a major art purchase. Most online art vendors, including General Public, utilize high-resolution images that make it easy to get an idea of what a painting will look like in real life. The one thing to look out for, de Rossi points out, is scale. "Take note of the space or wall you want to put the piece and measure the size of the piece if you are buying online."

Dustin Rousseau: Study In Black No. 1 for General Public
Dustin Rousseau Study In Black No. 1 $1,095.00

Find Art First

For some, the furniture and home décor come first, followed by art, but de Rossi insists that a great work of art can guide the interior design of any space. "I used to tear pages out of design magazines of rooms I found inspiring," she explains, "I came to realize that the thing I was inspired by in each of the tear sheets, was the amazing art."

If you're still not sure how to buy artwork, one place to start is General Public. "We work with art advisors and educated painters who select works based on an artist's technical proficiency and uniqueness," according to de Rossi. This way, you'll know you're purchasing quality pieces worthy of a space on your walls.

"Almost Blue VIII" Koen Lybaert for GP x RH
Koen Lybaert for GP x RH Almost Blue VIII $4,075.00

Leave Room for the Art to Breathe

Once you've found artwork that speaks to you and your sense of style, it's time to find the perfect place for it in your home. De Rossi recommends allowing art to stand alone, but not so much so that the piece feels trivial or unimportant. "Hang it on a wall that gives the art enough white space to breathe, but not enough that it feels insignificant," she says. However, every space and work of art is different, so there's really no hard-and-fast rule. "Sometimes a small work on a large wall can be very impactful," de Rossi acknowledges.

Don't Think of Art as an Investment

The one mistake amateur collectors make, according to de Rossi? They think of art as an investment. "You must connect to works you buy and only care about how much you like it and how it reflects your personal style," she says. Focus on these characteristics, rather than how much money a painting or sculpture might be worth. "The function of art is to stimulate thought, elevate our environment, and make us happy," she says. "It's a great investment if it achieves these things."

leslie nix morgan at dusk
Leslie Nix Morgan at Dusk $995.00