Your floor may be covered in preschool toys, but that doesn’t mean your walls can’t be covered in grown-up art. Seattle Magazine shows you how art collecting isn’t just for the filthy rich, or those with tons of time to scour swap meets and garage sales for Antique Roadshow-esque finds. Having unique, collectables can be a reality for the rest of us.

Nancy Guppy bought her first work of art at a coffee shop in 1989. “I was waiting to order and became mesmerized by a painting of this maternal, Madonna-like figure. I loved the colors, and it felt so safe and loving,” Guppy says. The former Almost Live actress paid $600 for the painting and promptly hung it on the wall of the new apartment she shared with her husband, Joe. The purchase, she says, helped her settle into the space. “It was important to create our own aesthetic.”

The Madonna painting was a seed that grew into a passion for art collecting. More than 20 years later, Guppy is the host of the Seattle Channel’s Art Zone program and lives with Joe in a compact two-bedroom condo on Queen Anne. Her home is like a private gallery, where paintings, sculptures, photos and illustrations enliven walls, tables and even the refrigerator.

There’s the oil landscape above the bed that she bought at an artist’s garage sale for $75. There’s a birch log sculpture by Seattle artist Julie Lindell. There’s a “crazy-great” Gregory Blackstock piece, for which the local autistic artist used Sharpies, crayons and colored pencils to draw “all the firecrackers in the world.” Guppy says surrounding herself with original art makes her feel happy and delighted.

And that, she says, is the whole point of art collecting. It is so personal that you can’t worry about what anyone else thinks about the work. “It’s an artist’s idea. It either speaks to you or challenges you or it doesn’t. It’s really a person-to-person communication,” she says.

Guppy and other local art aficionados insist that having your own collection doesn’t require a special education or gobs of money, just a willingness to go with your instincts. So if your own home is decorated with ho-hum posters or mass-market art—or left bare for fear of choosing the “wrong” thing—Seattle’s thriving art scene is an ideal arena in which to begin your own collection.

Continue reading Art Collecting 101  for more tips and tricks on how to make your home a beautiful gallery.

This is our weekly guest post from our friends at Seattle Magazine, which keeps readers on the pulse of restaurants, personalities, arts, entertainment and culture that reflect the tapestry of our dynamic landscape. We’ve teamed up for an exciting partnership to bring you a weekly dose of fantastic Date Night ideas throughout greater Seattle.