The Art of Chicago Real Estate: Purchasing a Home for your Collection

A painting by Robert Motherwell: At Five in the Afternoon, 1949. Photo from Flickr/clairity

Having worked in luxury Chicago real estate for more than 22 years, I’ve worked with clients who aren’t just looking for a place to call home—but a place that will double as a home to an art collection as well. But moving art into a Chicago home goes far beyond getting it through the door. It often requires detailed planning and thought as to how a particular home for sale might cater to your unique collection.

Before Shopping for Chicago Homes for Sale
Finding a home that would work for a client with an art collection presents a number of different nuances to look for and consider.  Here are a few things I encourage my clients with art to think about before they begin shopping.

What look and feel you want your home to have: Do you want your art to be the focal point of your home, or integrated into the rest of the design? For example, if you’re looking for a minimalist space where the art is the highlight, a home with a lot of architectural detailing might not be the best option. Similarly, if your art collection is filled with traditional pieces, an ultra-modern design may not best fit your collection.

How a home’s features will work with your collection: While it may seen obvious, ensuring that ceiling heights will accommodate large pieces is important in urban properties. It’s also key to consider how natural light will come into the home, and how that might work (or not work) with the art. Certain Chicago buildings lend themselves toward a collector because of high ceilings, ample wall space for display and security of the building to ensure the safety of your valuable collection. And it’s never to early to think about the future resale value of a home when setting it up and configuring it to your needs.

How proper lighting can be planned: Because every collection is unique, of course most Chicago homes for sale won’t have lighting configured to your needs. But good lighting is critical for displaying art property, and I can help buyers think about the layout of a potential home to ensure the best lighting for your art can be maximized. For example, many Chicago condos have concrete ceilings, so canned or indirect lighting isn’t necessarily easy to install. I also have access to a lighting specialist who has worked in many Manhattan homes with major art collections who can help determine the cost involved for setting up the appropriate lighting.

Fitting an art collection with your lifestyle: If you plan to entertain around your collection, that’s certainly important to think about in terms of space. Likewise, if you’re active in buying and selling art, that may affect what you want in a Chicago home in terms of storing and displaying it.

As an art collector myself, I understand the aesthetics that art collectors are typically looking for in Chicago homes or Chicago condos—a distinctive place for both his or her collection as well as something that fits their lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a single-family home, a high-rise condo or a loft space, there are indeed properties in Chicago that cater to you and your collection. To learn more about Chicago homes for sale that offer a unique space for you and your art, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or by email at

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