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When you’re getting ready to sell a home, it’s essential not only to make the space clean and presentable, but to also give prospective buyers the feeling they could pack their bags and move right in, without much work. 

It’s a delicate balance to show off the features of the property while downplaying (if not totally eradicating) the style choices of the existing homeowner. We use enough furniture to make it feel cozy and live-able while hiding the appearance that the space has already been lived-in

And, of course, let there be light. 

But what about paint color? Is it always best to just go with a coat of Decorator’s White on the walls for the most neutral effect? 

Sometimes, but not always. 

To help you get the most for your design work, let’s dig in a little bit to the psychology of color, shall we?

My take on every paint color in the rainbow

From consumer marketing to therapy, color is used in a multitude of ways to influence perceptions, guide behaviors, and promote healing. It’s based on the idea that colors stir up associations and emotions within us, sometimes consciously, but more often subconsciously. 

Below I have some opinions about each color in general from one of my favorite interior designers, Natalie Neverko, as well as my take on each color as a paint option while you’re getting ready to sell a property.

Neutral colors like beige, white, and gray provide a versatile partner to go with any other color. Calm and serene, they can be used as a base color or a backdrop for art and furniture. 

My take: Neutrals are your default position. You can offend virtually no one with a neutral. They appear as a blank slate on which prospective buyers can envision their wildest color schemes.

Red evokes bold feelings of passion, excitement, and energy. Looking for a bold accent wall? Red works well, says Natalie. Balance it out, however, with a neutral or complementary color so you don’t overwhelm people. 

My take: Unless you have a super sophisticated shade of red in a super sophisticated space, it’s probably best to stay away from this color.

Orange brings out a sense of enthusiasm, creativity, and sociability. It’s a warm and playful color best for gathering spaces, such as kitchens, living rooms and dining rooms. It’s best buddies with beige, white, and gray. 

My take: Orange is perhaps more polarizing than red, and harder to pull off without it appearing cartoony. Stay away from this one, too.

Yellow symbolizes happiness, warmth, and positivity. It’s a ray of sunshine you can use in entryways, living rooms, and kitchens. Keep it to a minimum.

My take: No. Just no.

Green cools and soothes, representing growth, harmony, and freshness, says Natalie. For relaxing in the bedroom, bathroom, and meditation rooms, it works well along with colors like blue and purple.

My take: Green is my favorite color! But it may not be yours or theirs. Green that leans toward gray could pass as a neutral if chosen carefully.

Blue stands for trust, peace, and stability. It’s cool and calming, a great color for the serenity of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms. Pair it with cool colors like green and purple. 

My take: Blues are another color that can pass as a neutral when the right shade is selected. Stick with tones at the lightest and darkest ends of the spectrum for more versatility.

Purple, cool and mysterious, represents royalty, luxury, and spirituality. For sophisticated and elegant spaces, such as bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms, use it to create a sense of depth and richness.

My take: Stick with more muted purples to avoid looking cheesy.

Paint color is not about your (or your client’s) taste while selling

Do my weigh-ins sound too boring or lacking in creativity? Remember, as real estate agents it’s our job to find our clients the best fit for their purchase or sale, and get them the best deal financially; not to show our awareness of the latest decorating trends. Just like with clothing, every client will have their own unique sense of home decor style. We want to show them a space they can paint themselves into.

Aside from color psychology, I like to think about the temperature of the colors and the relative coolness or warmth they offer to the space. Generally speaking, warm colors are in red, orange and yellow hues, while cool colors are in green, blue, and magenta hues. However, each color of the rainbow has shades that fit into both the warm and cool categories. That’s why, if you choose to go with a vibrant color, it’s so important to pick the right one. 

If you want to play with color, first ask yourself why. Sometimes these ideas sound more exciting in our heads than they actually look on our walls. There’s absolutely no shame in saying, “I’m going to go with the most sophisticated shade of white I can find.” After that quick check-in, if you still want to explore color, ask yourself if you are the best consultant on the matter. If it’s feasible, hire a professional who can give you an expert opinion on what would work best for the space and situation. 

If it is not feasible to bring in the expert, then my advice is to:

  1. Go on Pinterest, Instagram, or some other similar sites to grab ideas. Find designers you like and follow them.
  2. Collect images of ideas you’d like to try and create a mood board.
  3. Look at your mood board and decide what you can realistically replicate. 
  4. Gather some pieces or paint swatches that align with your vision and put them together in a cohesive and straightforward fashion.

With just the right balance of creativity and class, the paint color you choose will play an essential role in getting you the price you want for the property. 

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