How to Create an Artful Living Room
In the home of Des Moines gallery owner Liz Lidgett, a cozy and stylish living room becomes an ever-changing showcase of art, music and found treasures.
Liz Lidgett likes to call her new Des Moines gallery her happy place. Discovering art has always been a draw for Liz. Now she has a dedicated space to help other people do the same. In addition to selling art, Liz advises people and institutions on art purchases and helps nurture the art scene around Iowa’s capital. And she definitely takes her work home. Liz uses her light-filled living room as a testing ground for creative ways to display artwork. She also constantly tinkers with the layout, shifting to incorporate furniture and baubles nabbed at estate sales or online auctions. (Scouring sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, 1stdibs and Everything but the House for bargains is a bit of a hobby.) “It’s a room that will never be complete,” Liz says, “because I love playing with the furniture and experimenting with art.”
Sofa Score Liz jumped at the chance to snag couches from Craigslist for just $50. She had them professionally reupholstered in a light blue linen to fit the room’s cool color scheme.
Sun Catchers Instead of covering her south-facing windows, Liz made them a dramatic focal point by coating the trim in semigloss black paint.
Frame Game For a trio of prints, Liz nixes negative space and lets the frames touch instead. “It’s the next extension of the gallery wall,” she says. “This way, it feels like one larger piece.”
Floor Model With a young son, Rocky (and cat, Nelly Purrtado), Liz values anything that’s easy to clean or repair. Enter carpet tiles. (These are from FLOR.) They look like an area rug, but a damaged piece can be easily replaced. They’re a cinch to store, too, so you can change looks with the seasons.
Table Tricks Liz scooped up a mod, oval table at a garage sale, but it needed some major TLC. She camouflaged a garish linoleum top with marble contact paper. “It fools people all of the time!”
Fancy Footwork When one of her favorite artists, Angela Chrusciaki Blehm, collaborated with chic online home goods source Chairish on a furniture line, Liz snapped up her pair of patterned ottomans. (The art over the sofa is by the same artist.)
Balancing Act Liz loves having a floating acrylic shelf for displaying art: “It has enabled me to move things around a lot without leaving holes everywhere.”
No Bark Or Bite The hound in the corner is a favorite family heirloom. “My grandparents loved dalmatians, and my grandfather saw it on Wheel of Fortune,” Liz says. “So he called the show and asked to buy one!”
Room Keys No matter what new design idea Liz cooks up for the room, the piano stays. “We use this room as a family daily because my husband, Nick, plays the piano, and our son loves to bang on the keys with him,” she explains. “I love listening to them play together.”
The Golden Rule(s) of Buying Art
After years of advising clients on art purchases, Liz says one rule transcends all: Follow your heart. If a work of art speaks to you, it has a place in your home, regardless of color or style. (Her other more practical advice? Hang pieces so the center is at average eye level, about 60 inches from the floor. Most people place them too high.)
Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design opened in Des Moines’ vibrant East Village in 2019. Liz currently represents 23 artists; check out their work at lizlidgett.com.
Liz’s gallery motto, We Believe in Art for Everyone, speaks of more than the art she sells. Through The Des Moines Wall Project, she facilitates public art projects across the city. Last June, artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya worked with two Drake University students to install a 100-foot mural at a new Boys and Girls Club on campus.
Follow Midwest Artists
Liz loves the charm, originality and playfulness of these three artists.
Ashley Mary, Minneapolis
“Ashley has a wonderfully bold and vibrant aesthetic. Her work gets attention for its bright, big shapes.” @ashleymaryart
Kristi Kohut, Chicago
“Kristi’s artwork puts you in a better mood. It often has a sparkle that changes the piece when you look from different points in a room.” @hapiart
Kevin Morris, Kansas City, Missouri
“Within 10 minutes of opening my gallery doors, someone bought one of Kevin’s exquisite beetles.” @kevin.brent.morris