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Staging a room to sell your house? Hang a horse painting

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The horse is the home stager’s new spirit animal

Courtesy of Vicky Botsford

Spend enough time sifting through real estate listings, and you’ll start to notice certain decorative accents popping up with great frequency. Take this diamond-patterned rug (please!), for instance, or the infamous IKEA print of Audrey Hepburn.

Thankfully, Holly Golightly’s insouciant visage is no longer the maddeningly ubiquitous presence it once was. Taking her place as the reigning champ of staging art: the noble horse!

Wondering if there was any significance in the recent proliferation of stallions and fillies, Curbed asked some staging experts about the trend.

“The only explanation I can give is that stagers generally don't own ‘real’ artwork, and buy it from big box stores like Home Goods and TJ Maxx, and much of that art tries to appeal to the largest possible audience with animals and pleasant landscapes,” says designer Ruth Storc, whose work has been seen on such HGTV shows as House Hunters Renovations. “Also horses go along with the Native/Western design trend that has been going on for a while.”

Long Beach-based designer John Douglas oversaw the staging for the Wallace Neff-designed Bourne Estate in Palm Springs, where you’ll find a massive painting of a muscular white steed.

Courtesy of David Kubiczky and Sandra Quinn

“Here’s the story with that particular painting. I got it from a neighbor, who gave it to me because it was way too big for his house—the houses in our neighborhood are really small, somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet,” Douglas explains. “I needed something substantial for the Palm Springs house, and that horse painting just happened to be the right size.”

Pressed to speculate on what might be spurring the current horse-art craze, Douglas says, “I guess horses represent a lifestyle of a bygone era. But it probably has more to do with whatever mass-produced prints are being spit out of China.”

Not that Douglas is completely immune to equine charms. “Whenever I see horsehead bookends, I grab ‘em, “ he admits. “They’re a no-brainer.”

Ryan Nickum, marketing manager for real estate search firm Estately, offers a bigger-picture view. “I think there's some regional stuff that seems to work its way around.” According to Nickum, stagers of high end listings in Atlanta were early adopters of the horse-decor trend, but it’s now common in high end homes across the country.

However, Nickum notes, there is one decor element favored by LA stagers that remains decidedly local: “Other cities do a bowl of green apples, but LA still features bowls of citrus, as if people are going to sit down at the dining room table and dig into a heaping bowl of lemons.”

Below, just a small sampling of horsey artworks that have reared their heads of late:

Via Maggie Ding/ReMax
Photo by Marc Angeles, courtesy of Ben Belack and Eric Lavey/The Agency
Via Tracie Heileson/Dilbeck Real Estate
Via Joshua Altman/Douglas Elliman
Via Judith Oroshnik/Berkshire Hathaway