An artist uses colors and themes in her acrylic paintings to inspire the way she furnishes a home
When Meg and Mark Krakowiak bought their Siesta Key vacation home in 2006 and moved in permanently last January, Meg had no trouble devising an interior design scheme for their Florida home. It was basically the same one she used in Connecticut — art, specifically her own colorful acrylic contemporary paintings. A self-taught artist who has been painting (and winning awards) for the past 30 years, Meg is regarded as a master colorist. She sees space and means to fill it with color.
“Over the years our family has moved around quite a bit because of my husband’s career with General Electric,” said Meg, “and my plan for furnishing and customizing our homes — 15 in all — is the same. I paint the walls a neutral color and I use neutral solid colored furniture. Then I personalize everything with colorful splashes of art and colorful accessories.”
Her furniture is a combination of family antiques and big comfy pieces that she’s hauled from house to house. “When we settle in a city I generally scour consignment stores and salvage yards for accent pieces of furniture that I can paint or refinish,” she said. “My latest find for our Sarasota dining room is a sideboard that is actually an old metal gym locker. Mark looked at me funny when I dragged that thing in, but it worked out beautifully. And, it’s functional for storage and as a buffet.”
The dining room with its heavily textured and glazed walls, (which Meg painted) expresses a feature that Meg Krakowiak likes to include in many of her paintings — birch trees. “I admit I have an obsession with birch trees, their shape, color and the texture of the bark,” said the artist. “I often peel away some of the bark and use the paper-thin fragments in my collages. We had birch trees on our property in Connecticut, but that’s not possible here in Florida so I found our dining room birch trees online.”
She says they are actual trees and she’s paired them with one of her paintings which is called Birch Abundance. The dining room table is a new piece from Arhaus Furniture in Sarasota, but the kitchen table is an antique English farm table that Meg spotted at a Connecticut flea market. A battered and beautiful storage chest in the family room was her grandfather’s, her mother’s and it now belongs to Meg.
“When our children were young and we were moving a lot, I was into distressing all our furniture because with children and pets, it was just easier to start out with furniture looking comfortably worn than worrying about chips and dings in sideboards and dressers,” she said. “I love painting and refinishing furniture. I once did our whole dining set in red and then a few years later stripped it all down to the raw wood. I enjoyed both looks. But in my paintings I hardly use any red.”
The artist said her Siesta Key “look” is influenced by the watery blues and green that dominate her artwork lately. “I’m inspired by the water I see at the back of our house, the color of the tropical foliage and the light in Sarasota which is beautiful,” said Meg. “I want our home to express the joy and the airiness of this island setting. My parents had a home on Siesta Key and I have been coming here for decades. So when we bought this home Mark and I knew that we wanted a home on water and a floorplan that merges the indoor and outdoor spaces. We wanted to be able to walk to the village and beach, and we wanted a place for our boat.” The interior design expresses a subtle coastal attitude in a style that designers call eclectic, which means a mix of many styles.
“The temptation is to keep adding and layering so that the rooms look collected, evolved and full of things from different time periods and countries,” said the artist. “It’s always an interesting style but a result, if you’re not careful, is that rooms can also look cluttered with too many objects. To counter that, I edit our house twice a year. I take everything out of a room and then I don’t put back about twenty percent. I also rotate the paintings from room to room. It’s a way of refreshing spaces and it makes you see a painting through new eyes. Sometimes when you get used to having a painting in the same spot, you forget to notice it anymore. Move it to a different location and you’ll appreciate it anew.”
Meg Krakowiak’s paintings are easy to rotate because she doesn’t have picture frames to consider. “I don’t care for my paintings to be framed or for being under glass,” she said. “To my eye frames can distract from a painting and confine it in a sense. But, I do have framed artwork in our house, pieces from friends or from artists whom I admire and want to collect. It’s an individual preference, but none of my paintings in my gallery on Palm Avenue come with frames.”
The artist doesn’t have fabric window treatments in her home either but goes with bare windows or white plantation shutters which she likes for their simplicity and light control. “When I do a room I look at it as a blank canvas. I always have a color palette in mind with a dominant color, a few supporting colors and a color for focal points,” she explained. “I’m aware of the composition, the arrangements of shapes and colors and in repeating patterns so that the eye moves around the room between areas with objects and areas of quietness. Most of the time my design scheme starts with a painting of mine.”