What is Houseable

Houseable describes a piece of art capable of fitting inside a regular-sized living area.


Houseable artwork is generally more affordable and easier to sell than other works or installations because of its smaller size, though numerous exceptions to this rule exist. Many other factors play into both the initial and resale value of a work of art, most notably the artist who produced the work. Wise investors likely should consider the size of the work as only one of a number of factors when considering the purchase of a work of art.

Investing in fine art

Investors have shown some interest in art collecting as part of a broadly diversified portfolio, particularly as auction houses announce record-breaking purchases with regularity. For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million at auction in November 2017. The value of artwork comes in large part from the relatively small supply of original artwork available for sale to individuals interested in owning it. The majority of people purchasing artwork buy it for display in their home or elsewhere.

Returns on art as an investment tend to mirror movements in the broader economy, with larger returns during boom times and much smaller returns during recessions. Therefore, even if investors consider an art purchase a long-term investment, the marginal value of that investment on display exceeds its value in storage, awaiting the perfect, uncertain time for resale. With that in mind, an investor looking to begin an art collection should consider a work’s size, paying particular attention to the dimensions of the artwork itself relative to the dimensions of the space in which the buyer intends to display it.

Artists produce works on a variety of scales, from drawings and watercolors to large-scale installations, such as mobiles or multi-panel paintings. Some artists will even allow galleries to break up installations at the end of an exhibition, believing it will be easier or more profitable to sell them in pieces than to attempt to sell a large-scale work in one transaction. In addition, large-scale works displayed in small areas may make it difficult to see a piece in its entirety, especially if it will be obscured by furniture.

Individuals interested in purchasing larger artworks do have options, however, even if they lack the appropriate space to display a given piece. For example, making a permanent loan to a museum provides one avenue for an art investor to purchase a work for public display without concern for whether or not the work fits in a living area.