If you've been following along with us at Elsie Green, you know that one of our favorite things to collect is vintage art. We love scouring the flea markets in France for the most beautiful and unique vintage oil paintings.

Today, we'd like to introduce you to our guest writer, who is as passionate about vintage art as we are. Matthew James lives in a dreamy apartment in Brooklyn, where he has masterfully styled old & new pieces to create a space that tells a story. He also has a covetable vintage art collection that is carefully curated and will likely lead you to want to start your own.

Read along to learn more about his process in selecting and styling art in his space.

Most people will agree looking for art can seem like a daunting task. Art can enhance a space, elicit a certain reaction or memory and its typically one of the last touches added when finishing a room. Thats why the art Ive chosen for my Brooklyn apartment holds a special place in my heart. Each artwork hanging on my walls has helped transform the space I call home. Whenever Im on the hunt for my newest acquisition, there are a few guidelines I try to follow that make the process of searching for art a little less stressful.

Knowing what youre drawn to is always a great place to start and not shying away from what draws your eye. For me, Im always drawn to older, vintage pieces that typically have a patina and a previous history that only adds to their appeal. With chippy frames, smoke covered varnish and time-worn canvases, these additional details offer more depth and texture that make the piece even more unique.

When I begin the hunt for artwork the question I always ask myself is, how will it compliment the room? Am I looking for something that will break-up the space and create tension or am I looking for a piece that allows your eye to wander throughout and offer continuity? Thinking of how you want the art to interact with the rest of the decor & furniture can help you easily pass on anything that doesnt fit into one of these two categories. This fundamental question has always saved me time and has kept me from buying a few pieces that Ive loved but would never work in the space I’m searching for!

The second point I keep in mind while looking for art is that it does not need to match the room’s aesthetic. I repeat the artwork doesnt have to be completely cohesive with the space! This is something I still struggle with and Im constantly having to remind myself on a daily basis. By letting go of the idea that everything needs to be cohesive and match, it gives you the opportunity for more exploration and creativity; as well as a chance to experiment with multiple styles. Having eclectic pieces that arent directly tied to the rest of the space can seem intentional and provide a fresh of breath air.


For me, a piece of art needs to create a sense of calm and comfort. I typically stray away from anything too jarring or compositions that have harsh lines. And living in New York City, the art acts as a way for me to bring nature into our home. All of these elements give a sense of balance and security when Im in my apartment. Without the art, the room would feel lackluster and lose some of its personality.


Lastly, as with anything else in your home, you shouldnt rush to find the right art piece. Taking the time to acquaint yourself with pieces similar in style, from the same artist or the same time period can help you find other artworks that you may not have considered. And until youre able to find a few shops that may carry art in a certain style or similar in other ways, its important to keep these question in mind. For this reason, I love the selection curated at Elsie Green. Their online inventory of sourced paintings from France is a treasure trove that checks all of these boxes for me.

Follow Matthew on instagram at @brooklynartboy

Start Your Art Collection >

Our Obsession with Art

Stylist Secrets I Installing a Gallery Wall


For more vintage art inspiration, head to our Pinterest. We have a special board dedicated to our love of vintage oil paintings which we update with new finds regularly. 

Laurie Furber
Tagged: design