Never underestimate the potential of a vision to become reality. As an interior designer, Charlotte Harris Lucas says one of the most rewarding things about her job is seeing something that started as a mood board or sketch morph into a full-blown home or design that gives a family a fresh start or a beautiful place to gather. And having long made art an integral part of her work, Lucas knows first hand how a special piece of art in the home can make an indelible impression. “When I was little, my parents had a large oil landscape over their bed in an elaborate gold frame,” she recalls. “In the landscape were giant purple mountains…and whenever I got the markers or paints out at school, the scene was colorful and imaginative. The grass didn't always have to be green, the clouds didn't always need to be blue...but the mountains were always purple!”
Today art is central to her life. Whether buying pieces for clients or for herself, Lucas says she sees art as a reflection of personality, telling the story of the person who inhabits the home, evoking emotion and breathing life into a space. But having to know exactly what space a piece of art will go in before she buys it is not really her style. In her collecting philosophy — both for art and for design — there’s no fussing about exactly where a piece will go. If you love it, buy it and figure out a spot for it later.
“Art is personality. It tells a story. It evokes emotion. The right piece of art can bring a room to life or simply turn a day around. It has that kind of power. It's something to marvel at and appreciate.”
Lucas began developing her collecting prowess at an early age. Growing up with an interior designer mother, she and her two sisters spent their childhood days scouring antique shops and rummaging through flea markets, learning to spot treasure among trinkets and beauty from the banal. The sisters’ creative spirits have continued to flourish in adulthood. Her younger sister Teeny Morrison is an interior designer and photographer, and her older sister Liz Carroll is also an interior designer. In 2017, Lucas and Carroll collaborated to create House of Harris, a line of high-end textiles and wallcoverings — a mix of lighthearted florals and other vibrant prints. The company’s thoroughly modern Southern aesthetic has been featured in Vogue, Architectural Digest, Veranda and Domino, among others.
Lucas lives in Charlotte, NC, where she runs her own firm, Charlotte Lucas Interior Design, and a busy household with her two children, Liles and Townes, and their mini Labradoodle, Saba. Among all of the art beautifully displayed around her home, Lucas says the recent portraits of her children are especially meaningful. “The Sally King Benedict piece in my kitchen is a wonderful, abstract representation of my two,” explains Lucas. “But these special, mixed-media portraits are my children personified. The artist, Sarabeth Arima, captured each of their unique identities and personalities perfectly. With their faces in the foreground and their interests subtly reflected in the background, it's as if I have the two of them bottled up at this age and moment in time forever.”
Where is the most unexpected place you have encountered art?
“Flea markets and estate sales. In little corners of my home, I have framed portraits of old people that I have found at estate sales. While I have no idea who these people are, I know that they have stories and character. And that's always something I look for. I'm all about an ‘if these walls/this frame could talk’ kind of purchase.”
Any artists on your radar right now?
“Austin Eddy is a current favorite. His colorful piece in my living room brings me joy on a daily basis. Another artist I have recently discovered through a client is Geoffrey Johnson who is an amazing North Carolina artist. I am captivated by the contemporary impressionist interiors he paints. I hope to add one to my collection in the future!”
Describe your relationship with art...
“I see it beyond how it’s typically defined. I see art in the beautiful fabrics we surround ourselves with, the vintage rug on the floor, the furniture we sit on. It's all a beautiful reflection of who we are and what we appreciate.”
Any advice for new collectors who are intimidated by art?
“Do your research and don’t be intimidated! Just educate yourself and follow your gut. Purchase things you have a strong reaction to and learn the stories behind the pieces and the artists. Knowing that information makes it even more fun and a wonderful conversation piece when you have guests over. And don't worry about where it's going! Rearrange the walls if you have to.”