Neutral Doesn’t Have to Mean White

May 15, 2007 § Leave a comment

If you are trying to sell your home, the real estate professionals will tell you to neutralize it: remove all the clutter, pack away all the personal items, make sure each room’s function is clear, and paint your walls a neutral color to appeal to all buyers.

Well neutral doesn’t have to mean white. And you don’t have to paint all the walls the same color either. Here are a few guidelines for painting your home in preparation for selling:

1) Make the house seem as big and spacious as possible. If you have a small center-entry colonial with a small dining room on the left, a small living room on the right, and a small kitchen in the back, you have two options.

  • Choose a color like Benjamin Moore’s manchester tan (HC81–seems to go with everything) or standish white (HC32–a warm sunny color) and paint all the public rooms that color, creating the feeling of one continuous, warm, inviting space. 
  • Choose three “neutrals, ” like manchester tan, standish white, and another color that matches the value of the other two, for example, hollingsworth green (HC141) or woodlawn blue (HC147) and paint each room a different color. As long as you select colors that have the same hue value (the degree of lightness or darkness) and the same intensity (the degree to which a color is either clear or grayed-down), they will blend well, form an uninterrupted backdrop to the space and give that “neutral” feel to the home without being white everywhere.

2) Cross-pollinate your colors to create “flow.” If your dining room is green and your living room is blue, bring some blue into the dining room and some green into the living room. By sharing colors between rooms, you move the eye from one room to another and make the whole public space seem larger. When each room is its own distinct color or style, you lose the continuous flow feeling of a larger space and the house seems small and disjointed, not a good thing especially if you’re trying to sell.

3) Paint the ceiling to rescale your room. If your ceilings seem too high for the room, paint them a shade or two darker than the wall color and add crown moulding (optional). Your ceilings will appear more in scale with the walls and the room will feel a little more cozy and more inviting.

4) Paint the front door. The entry to your home is critical to creating a positive first impression. Fresh paint in any color will be an improvement, but red or another punchy color will make a great opening statement.

5) Paint the bedrooms anything but pink. There’s nothing like bubblegum pink to say little girl’s room. But to provide universal appeal to buyers, I would stick with a gray blue, like silver mist (BM  1619) and other neutrals (see above) that will allow the bedrooms to be gender neutral.

Sticking with a soft pastel palette and a really good paint job will allow you to present a house that has some character without succumbing to the painter’s white syndrome.

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