The Fine Art of Optimizing Home Value

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Art appreciation: The dining room, before and after. (Daniel Martinez)

How important is the artwork when it comes to selling a house? Just ask Briggs Freeman Realtor Janelle Alcantera. Her ultra-modern Paul Merrill-designed listing sold immediately after she replaced the home’s staged prints with original abstracts by local artist Julie Shunick Brown.

“I had this phenomenal listing to put on the market. But the art made it impossible to appreciate the architecture,” says Janelle.

Curb and aerial views of the Paul Merrill-designed listing. (Daniel Martinez)

She called Julie to ask if she could trade out some of the home’s generic prints with her timeless contemporary paintings. The artist quickly agreed. With gallery openings and showings at a pandemic-induced stand-still, the art community has struggled.

Janelle hand-picked pieces that would enhance Merrill’s handiwork. She also directed (and paid) to hang the new work and have the house re-photographed.

“It was critical that the art complement the architect’s design rather than divert attention away from it.”

Simple changes made a big difference in the foyer. (Daniel Martinez)

Case in point: the more subtle tones of the canvas in the dining room—the ideal balance to the beautifully-designed, understated wood staircase (itself a work of art). Similarly, a pair of neutral paintings in the foyer accent the home’s expansive foyer.

For the office, Janelle opted for color. Bright hues instantly enlivened the workspace.

Color has its place in the home office. (Daniel Martinez)

Consulting comes naturally to the Briggs Freeman pro. Her company, Galaxy Modern, specializes in contemporary design.

“My job is to create an atmosphere that’s intriguing enough to interest buyers, yet allows them the ability to envision their own belongings in the space,” says Janelle. “It’s a fine line.”

Art enhances the architecture in this Corte Madera, California, home.
(Sotheby’s International Realty, San Francisco Brokerage)

Theo Adamstein, a sales associate with Sotheby’s International Realty, agrees.

“Art creates the impression of a more valuable home. If you think about a beautifully designed home with strong architecture, you can appreciate it for what it is. But without art, it’s not finished,” she told the Washington Post.

It’s hard to pinpoint just how much art increases a house’s value.

“It doesn’t work like that. There isn’t a formula,” says Theo.

“Art embellishes a home, it adds character, and makes it more interesting than it may otherwise be. And that absolutely adds value,” she adds.

It’s also important not to hang art too high, according to the Sotheby’s Realty website. The point is to have buyers pause in the space. To do that, they need to have a direct eye line to it.

Another tip from Sotheby’s: Allow the eye to travel.
(Cape Town, South Africa, Sotheby’s International Realty)

And while homebuyers may not consider the art when viewing a home—after all, it doesn’t come as part the sale—creating a mood and feeling of positivity will stay with them far longer than they realize. (Not to mention, result in less selling time and offers coming through the door.)

Janelle’s experience is proof of the point. The first prospects to see her listing after changing out the artwork wrote an offer—complete with a letter about how tasteful the architecture and design of house was.

“When it’s done right, the home will appear to be more expensive,” she says. “Art can make or break a house.”

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Elaine Raffel

Having left the corporate world to launch her own freelance creative business, Elaine Raffel is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the mega-talented Dallas homebuilding community. She credits her work with top fashion and design brands for teaching her one inarguably valuable lesson: that truly great work is always a collaboration.

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