Four local pros tell us why fine art is the perfect finishing touch in staging a home.
Home is where the art is: The George, an apartment complex in Wheaton, uses works by Mary Calkins to create a positive emotional response in this model unit.
More and more, developers and realtors are staging homes and buildings with art to attract tenants and buyers. Does it work? Judy Sherman: Absolutely, if you do it right. Staging art is totally different from collecting art. It’s subliminal. It works with the lines and the light and makes [for] a good experience. You might not really know that the art contributed to your experience when you leave—but it’s done the job. Katherine Hoffman: It has to be the right kind of art, and not art that was so amazing that it’s all you remember. Victoria Kilcullen: You want to remember the home... KH: The experience, the energy. VK: If we have listings with art that might be offensive—for example, Mapplethorpe—or art that’s very stylized, I will advise my sellers to take it down. You cut out a certain part of your buyer pool when you have very specific art like that. On the other hand, art that is pleasing psychologically binds someone to a house. If the art is very good, it increases the value of the house. “This person has a Cézanne? Wow, this house has incredible value.” It can speak to the buyer. JS: When we’re talking about staging, it’s more like curating. It’s psychological: knowing your audience.
Once someone is in a home, how can they use their space to showcase a piece? JS: Lighting. If it’s not lit properly, you don’t get the impact of the art how it was intended. It can really almost deaden a piece. VK: [It’s important to] give the piece honor. JS: [Framing] is not inexpensive, but it’s very important. I recommend museum glass that protects against the sun’s rays and [diminishes] reflection. You don’t want to see yourself approaching [the piece], or the window opposite it.
What about sculpture? Jennie Buehler: You definitely need lighting for sculpture as well. You need a spotlight. I have a few raw, sculptural pieces, and the works are also based on the shadows that they cast, so lighting plays a huge part. VK: What if you have a traditional house where the rooms are small, but you really love sculpture? JB: Go with a maquette. Often artists will do a maquette based on a larger piece. You can put those on a pedestal. They’re still really elegant and beautiful. VK: Frederick Hart is really beautiful in small spaces because he does the glass that’s lit from within. It works really well.
How are builders embracing this concept? VK: When I work with builders on larger single-family residences, I suggest they wire for art. It’s frustrating for somebody to say, “I have this beautiful piece that I want to hang on this wall, but it’s not wired.” It’s worth it for the buyer and for the builder. JS: In any construction, residential or business, there are walls that are so apparently art walls, whether you use it as an art wall or not. So [install] the options. You don’t have to put the light on, just have it there. If you think this wall could hold something multi-dimensional, consider adding some blocking. While the walls are bare, blocking is not expensive. KH: You’re seeing more and more of that in new construction.
The trend toward local everything is still so big—what about supporting local artists? JS: Some realtors will ask local artists to bring in their work, and it’s almost like a gallery. The pieces are for sale. It’s a win-win for everybody… Also, when it’s local artists, it brings the community together. It starts a conversation. VK: Art and real estate go so hand in hand.