Your Home as Art: Good Idea or Not?

Your Home is your Castle, Should it also be Your Art?

Photograph of a home in Behrens Ranch styled as a painting We all love our home, some of us so much we want to turn them into our own canvas for artistic expression. Is that a good idea? I've been getting a wee bit tired of taking photos of subdivisions lately, even though we see interesting homes every single time we go out. Sometimes I just want to see a little more spark. That got me to thinking . . .

How much art can your home handle?

At dinner tonight, Orlando and I were discussing how much art a homeowner can reasonably get away with without adversely affecting the market value, or the appraisal value of the home. We weren't discussing art hanging on the walls, even though that is what sparked the discussion - we're planning a gallery of photograph of homes in Austin for our own walls. We were talking about what happens when the homeowner views the actual home as their canvas and goes to town, so to speak.

Admit it, you've seen these, too

We've all seen them: homes with wild colors on the outside, murals on the inside covering walls beyond the typical kid room murals, heavily stenciled borders, faux painting and Venetian plaster on the walls. Some homes also gain walls made from crushed soda cans, garden walls made from green beer bottles, or yards full of whirligigs made from rusted out sheet metal or old farm tools. How about the banisters made from intricately carved logs, smashed ceramic-tile-turned-back-splash, or a home styled as a fairie garden or as a vampire castle? What have you seen lately that made you go, hmmmm?

The Purple Wall

We have a purple wall in our home. Dark, almost black-purple. We think it is gorgeous. Some friends, visitors and neighbors apparently do not. I lived in a beige house once, and don't plan on doing that again. We understand, however, that if, or when, we decide to sell, we should probably paint the purple wall, and, well, the orange entry, and the lavender office, and the palladian blue other office, and the black bookshelves flanking the fireplace, and and and. In our neighborhood of homes built in the 1980s, homes for sale come in two primary flavors: updated with granite, stainless steel and travertine, or homes that need to be updated, which includes those that have out-of-date updates, inconsistent updates, or DIY sub-par renovations. The market typically penalizes the latter because buyers factor in the cost of their desired updates when they are deciding how much to offer for a home. In other words, in our area, the super-artistic home would most likely be categorized in buyers' minds as a home that needs to be updated, and penalized accordingly. Which of course, begs the question:

When Does Your "Home as Art" Impact Market Value?

The simplistic answer is: When it veers so far from the norm that is sticks out. If you have a subdivision full of standard builder homes, with similar characteristics, the super-artsy house may not sell as well as one that is presented for sale as typical for the area. It may not sell at all. Some buyers will be able to add up the costs to bring the home closer to their own tastes, but others will be so focused on the "art" that they are unable to see the bones of the home itself, and that makes it hard for them to see how they might live in the home once it is theirs. And THAT is key to getting the home sold. In an area when artsy homes are much more typical, such as areas of South Austin, or SOCO (South of Congress), the market tolerance for the artistically-rendered home is generally greater. Some buyers actively seek out homes that are unusual, perhaps as their part of Keeping Austin Weird.

Our Advice Regarding Your Home as Art

Your home is YOURS. Do what you want to it, but do it with the awareness that you might need to re-do it if and when you decide to sell. In a seller's market, you can "get away" with more, but in a buyer's market, the odd-home-out is going to be harder to move. Paint is easier to fix than structural modifications. Plan to take your Yard Art with you. For the determined artistic spirits, make sure you understand any applicable HOA rules before you buy because purple and teal on the outside may not even pass the review of the Architectural committee and you'll be stuck with beige, even if it isn't your favorite flavor. MY purple and teal are on the INSIDE, and that is just the way I like it.


  1. Brenda says

    I agree with you. While living in a home make it your own but for resale it has to be cleared so the potential buyer can see themselves living there. We have several murals painted throughout our home. I even have an 8 ft tree I had painted as our family tree to hang the kids photos.

  2. Celine says

    You have to be careful how much art you incorporate into your house – it can affect the price you will get when you sell it for sure!

  3. Tom says

    Great post Alison. Have not seen this topic before but it is certainly one that homeowners need to be aware of.

  4. says

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m hoping to get a whole new set of articles up in the coming weeks on some (hopefully!) different topics in valuation. Need someplace to put my art, since I filled up all of our actual walls. 🙂


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