Podcast, Ep. 194: art expert Katharine Earnhardt


Our guest today is the lovely Katharine Earnhardt. Katharine is an art expert with over 15 years of experience and the founder of the art advisory firm Mason Lane Art. Her mission is to make art accessible, approachable, and practical. Founded in 2014, they now have offices on the East Coast, Midwest and in Canada.  We talk about how to find great art, how to hang it, and ways to snag art even on a budget. After this episode, be sure to check out Katharine’s website tons of resources like her blog and before + after pics

What You’ll Hear on This Episode: 

  • Trials & Triumphs about Caroline’s spring planting and snakes, Karen’s BIG promotion and her podcast exit which means a search for a new co-host!
  • How Katharine got her start in the field of art advisory.
  • Katharine’s process for finding and curating art for spaces.
  • What makes art so costly?
  • How does someone find emerging artists and galleries?
  • Why we love the resources on Mason Lane Art’s website.
  • Why does Katharine think art is intimidating to most people?
  • All about how to hang and frame art.
  • Why you shouldn’t buy art purely based on aesthetics or to fill a space.
  • When is it okay to let a painting dip below a couch?
  • What are some great places to find affordable art?
  • How does Katharine feel about commissioning pieces?

Photo: Sean Litchfield

Decorating Dilemma


I am new to your podcast and really have enjoyed it. I especially love the problem-solving conversations and dilemmas you cover. As an apparel designer I like to take on creative projects myself, but it is so helpful to have a sounding board and I would love some insight if possible, on an area of our home that I am struggling with.

My wife and I bought a mid-19th century Greek revival farmhouse and horse property that we will be restoring for the next few years (or the rest of our lives, ha). The home has a lot of original character that remains thankfully, including some unpainted heart of pine wood paneling. We want to lean into the character and history of the home. It has not been updated in about 60 years, so we are working with a blank slate.

My wife’s family lives in the UK in a 13th century hall house that was converted to a tudor in the 1600s, and her aunt and uncle have a gorgeous 17th century farmhouse in the countryside outside of London. Both are constantly a source of inspiration. We like traditional design and historical character while adding in contemporary splashes and pops of color. I attached the color plan we put together for the house if that helps.

The front hall and stairwell in this house are especially challenging for us given how much wood there is. There are original posts and beams visible as well as some heart of pine paneling on the walls and there is a wide beadboard paneling going up the stairs. Plus, the floors are oak.

Our thought was to replace the wood floor in the front hall with black and white 12” diagonal checkerboard marble tiles, keep the wood paneled walls as-is and then paint the beadboard, bannister, spindles and stair risers up the stairway black, to break up the wood. The runner will be replaced, and the steps are being refinished along with the rest of the hardwoods in the house with a natural finish and will be lighter than they currently appear.

The area above the beadboard we would strip the wallpaper and paint it a creamy white and hang artwork since the ceilings are tall up the stairs. I attached a few photos and a video showing the area for reference.

How would you tackle it? Do you think we are approaching it incorrectly?

Thank you!


Hi Pete,

This space is super charming, but we definitely agree with the need to break up the woods. We love the idea of doing the black and white tile in the front (I actually did something similar in my house and it was a game changer). We’re always a fan of distinguishing certain spaces from others. If you don’t go with the tile, a great rug would work too. The entryway is inherently an area with a lot of activity and clutter, so we wouldn’t hang art on the walls at the bottom of the stairs; we would hang at the next level. With the mismatched banisters you could paint them or add a fresh finish, but a great runner would definitely draw the eye away. You can break up the wood through different colors but also through different furnishings and art. Since wood is so hard, we would definitely get furniture that is upholstered with different textures to soften it up and you can integrate some metals as well. But definitely avoid more wood! With art, consider work that is more textural as well. You have some great walls and have a lot of room for furnishings so maybe consider a Louis Bench, a skirted console table, etc.  We all agree that the wallpaper needs to go. You can paint that or try another wallpaper but whatever you choose, go with a very light color.  

We love the eclectic nature of the house and leaning into some of the imperfections, but it depends on if the rest of the house is like that or it’s just this one area!  To answer your question, “No, you aren’t approaching this wrong!”  We love your ideas and your color palette.  

Good luck, Pete!

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.


  1. Reply

    Jennifer A Darger

    March 25, 2022

    Awe😥 Karen was my fave!! I’ve been binge listening from the begining since I’ve found this podcast a few months ago. How do you replace someone like Karen? You MUST bring her back to visit! Anyways…so late, but Congratulations!!