Looking in from the outside, you might never guess that within the walls of Laura Landrum’s 1993 home hides one of our area’s most charming and unusual niche antique art collections. What makes this one so special, you might ask? Well, if you’re a lover of art, antiques, all things furry and four-legged, you’re in for a tail-wagging treat. As it turns out, the primary subject matter of Landrum’s remarkable collection happens to be one of our favorite topics of interest here at Bellingham Alive: dogs!
Landrum’s collection is the product of a 30-year-long love affair with antiques and art, the seeds of which were planted early in life by her grandmother, who was an avid antiquer herself. Later on, those seeds blossomed into a full-fledged passion for Landrum when she started her own collecting journey at just 19-years old.
“My love for antiques started in the ‘90s. I grew up surrounded by them, but it didn’t become a personal obsession until I was in my early 20s. My grandmother loved antiques, and the colorful stories she would tell about her acquisitions are what got me initially intrigued,” says Landrum.
The rooms dedicated to showcasing Landrum’s dog art collection are decorated in a classic country-style blue-and-cream color palette, evoking a sense of nostalgia and hearkening to the days when paint, wood, and metal were the primary tools to commemorate a beloved person or pet. As for the home’s interior look and feel, Landrum shares that she was heavily inspired by both the contents and time period of the collection itself, as well as the English and American country-style aesthetics made popular by interior decorator Mario Buatta.
“A large majority of our collection is from the 1800s. The core of [our home’s] addition was inspired by interior design from the same time period. Photos of how the famous interior designer Mario Buatta incorporated dog paintings in his own home were consulted when placing our art,” shares Landrum.
Though most of Landrum’s pieces date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, she does not limit her curation process based on age. In fact, a handful are even dated as recently as the 2000s, and she has also custom-commissioned paintings of her own pets as recently as this year. When asked about her selection process and criteria, Landrum shares that for her, character is key.
“The subject has to exude personality to the point that I find it endearing. If a piece has ‘personality’ I then focus on if the item is high quality, unusual, and a good investment before proceeding,” explains Landrum.
Some of Landrum’s paintings capture their canine subjects in a still frame taken from daily life, one mischievously sniffing a bowl of unattended food, another guarding their own from a potential feline rival. Others are more folksy than formal, including portraits of pups in repose, staring curiously back at the observer. Whether curled up on pillows or lovingly held in the laps of children, they each have their own sense of undeniable charm.
Beyond choosing pieces that speak to her, Landrum takes pride in arranging and showcasing her collection with care, making sure to select the right frame and location for each and every item. While the oil paintings that make up the majority of her collection command immediate attention, the acute observer will discover a great deal of magic in the many smaller pieces, highlighting the painstaking attention to detail she has poured into her selections.
Among these are numerous miniature portraits (some only a few inches in size), cast bronze statues and bookends, hand-carved wood boxes, painted tole trays, Staffordshire figures, and even a miniature room diorama (complete, of course, with miniature dogs!) Look closely, and you’re sure to find that … every piece, however big or small, tells an interesting story.
“I take great joy from creating displays and educating others about items in the collection. My father once said I should have been a museum curator, in a way I am. We made our home a dog museum,” shares Landrum.
Landrum’s collection is a heartwarming tribute to the unconditional bond of love and companionship that humans create with their canine companions, which spans and transcends the measure of time. You can learn more about The Dog House on Instagram, where Landrum has been documenting her collection with images and accompanying background stories piece by piece, @the.landrum.dog.house.