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Is it worth renting art to give our home a high-end look?

This article from New York Times is a great pointer when you're ready to put your home on the market for sale.

Market Ready

Q. Is it worth renting art to give our home a high-end look?

A. “Art completes a property,” said Vicki Negron, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group. “It’s always a good idea to borrow it or rent it,” she said, before you put a home on the market, if you don’t already have attractive pieces on the walls.

There are two main advantages to this, she said. First, art is like “beautiful makeup” that can put the finishing touches on interior design. No matter how nice the house or apartment, she said, “I’ve never seen an empty room look spectacular.”

The second is that distinctive art “helps in terms of remembering places,” on days when potential buyers might be viewing multiple properties. Eye-catching artwork could make buyers recall your home as “the place with the great red piece on the wall,” she said.

Ms. Negron, who said she has “the blessing of having good connections with a couple of dealers in Manhattan,” has even borrowed pieces by blue-chip artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring to pump up the appeal of properties she represents.

“Not everyone has that connection, but somebody always knows someone else with a great piece of art,” she said. “You can probably borrow in lieu of renting.”

In fact, she added, “I’ve moved some of my own art into properties.”

Barbara Brock, owner of the home-staging company A Proper Place, agrees that art can help complete a desired look. But she suggests limiting additions to one or two key pieces, so as not to overwhelm the space or make it look cluttered.

In terms of placement, “The key locations are in the entryway and in the living room, over the mantel or over the sofa,” Ms. Brock said. “Unless it’s a very large piece of art, it does look best hanging over a piece of furniture.”

The exception, she said, is when the art is “poster-size or larger,” in which case it can hang alone.

Also, not all art is equally effective. For staging a home, she said, “contemporary art, which is based on line, space, color, form — not representational art — has a wider appeal.”

Homeowners should also avoid anything too dark and gloomy, or with a religious or ethnic theme, she said, “because you want to appeal to a large market.” Pieces should be “more monochromatic and simple,” she said, and “less gilt and Old Masters.”

To find art to rent, Ms. Brock suggests asking individual galleries and artists, or using an online service like Artsicle (, which sells and rents art, starting at $25 a month.

It’s a small investment that could pay big dividends. As Ms. Negron said: “Color on a wall speaks volumes. I think it’s almost essential.”