What Real Estate Pros Really Think About Displaying “Tasteful Nude” Art

published Oct 9, 2022
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One of my favorite things about looking for a house to buy is seeing all of the unique decorative choices people make. I loved, for example, the pink marble bathroom with black fabric accents I toured — although maybe in a sarcastic, “Oh yeah I love that,” kind of way. I really did love, though, the great kitchen I saw with mint green cabinets and checkerboard flooring. It really spoke to my aesthetic and personal color palette.

And I can tell you what I’d rather not see, too, which I’m actually running across quite frequently: tasteful nudes. You know the ones — the subtle or moody colors, with one (or more!) naked bodies lounging across a canvas. Apparently a lot of Chicago residents currently selling their homes love this artwork. Personally, I don’t.

So who’s right? The seller, or me? Are these tasteful nudes something that help a sale or hinder it? I asked the team at Coldwell Banker Warburg to weigh in.

The short answer? Get rid of ’em.

“When selling a home, the sellers should try their best to remove anything that might offend a potential buyer,” says agent Steven Gottlieb. “What one person deems tasteful, another might consider offensive. The line between art and pornography can be finer than people may think.”

As an example, agent Jane Katz says she once showed a home with an “artsy” tasteful nude of two people engaged in a sexual act. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a selling point.

“I would not recommend displaying a painting with nudes,” Katz says. “It’s too personal; it’s TMI. And in the same way that we don’t recommend a lot of family photos being displayed, this is taking that a step even further, as you are risking it turning off a buyer.”

Having this type of art on the walls could also be a distraction. Gottlieb notes that it’s important for the potential buyer to be able to focus on the space and imagine their lives in it. If you’ve got a big naked tush staring at you from the wall, it might be a bit harder to concentrate — especially if you’re immature like me and would spend the whole showing giggling.

That being said, there is one argument for keeping that tasteful nude up — but only if it’s a legitimate piece of art.

“Finding a tasteful nude is very difficult because taste is so subjective,” says broker Ellen Sykes, who once listed an apartment with a Matisse drawing showing subtle nudity. “However, even if the painting is not tasteful but is painted by a great artist [like] Picasso, most buyers will drool, and it will certainly make the visit memorable. It isn’t every day you get to see a really great painting.”

Just keep in mind, nudes or not, that the best chance you’ll have of selling your home is to make the house appeal to the widest audience. So if you have something hanging up that might be polarizing, it’s best to take it down for showings.