DC area homes are the benchmark for properties that feature exquisite art collections.
The designer of the home at 541 7th St. SE created a logical flow of floor plans in order to accommodate artwork.
The Washington area luxury housing market has bounced from strength to strength over the past few years. A recent report by the brokerage Redfin shows that while sales for upper-middle-, middle-and lower-price tiers have decreased slightly compared to 2013, sales for the top 1 percent of the market have grown by 2.4 percent. Within this return to popularity there comes an increased diversity of preferences—one being family-size homes and another being a fabulous venue to display art.
The massive Fidelio estate has housed noteworthy art collectors.
Of course, developers must devise creative ways to accommodate these two competing needs for the same space. A newly renovated Capitol Hill home (541 7th St. SE, $2,495,000; Pam Wye, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, 202-239-3344) found a solution with the help of prominent DC designer Darryl Carter. Developer Martin Ditto of Ditto Residential (2217 14th St. NW, 202-905-2729; dittodc.com) says Carter and his team helped configure a new flow to the rooms so that there were dramatic spaces for art without giving it a museum feel. “In a gallery space, you want long walls so you can put the pieces of art next to each other,” said Ditto. “But in a house, you don’t necessarily want to put art in a row, because the artworks in your peripheral vision distract from the art right in front of you.”
The Fidello estate has transformed the living room into a gallery-like space.
Another example of the right way to showcase an art collection is the lavish home called Fidelio (Christopher Ritzert and Christie Weiss, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, 202-333-1212). This 61-acre estate made national news when it came on the market, as it had been transformed by the art collectors George and Ursula Andreas over the course of several years. Now offered at $15 million, each room of the 12,000-square-foot main villa can house several pieces of art so that none of them are exposed to direct sunlight and they can be appreciated from nearly every position within the space.
With tall walls and expansive space, this Bethesda home at 9000 Fernwood Road affords ample areas for art displays.
Sculpture collectors often encounter the greatest challenge when trying to find a home since their pieces generally need more room to accommodate a quality display. A rambler-style home for sale in Bethesda (9000 Fernwood Road, $2,295,000; Jane Fairweather, Coldwell Banker, 240-223-4663), demonstrates how to design a home for freestanding items with a light-filled atrium consisting of several platforms, resting above a rock garden. As the main focal point of the five-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bath home, its layout allows for each sculpture to benefit from the natural light without competing for attention with other pieces.
To live amid art is a luxury, and a space that lets individual pieces look their best can be as important as the art itself. As Martin Ditto sums up, “Ultimately, the house is the frame for the art. It is the context in which it lives.”