Paint Saavy - The Smart Way to Sell Your Home? Neutral-ize the Colors.

By Anne Kenderdine
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 7, 2009

Real estate agents, home stagers and decorators strongly recommend painting a home in neutral colors to help it sell faster. Why? "Today's buyer doesn't want any work," says home stager Carol Buckalew of Frederick. You don't want buyers to walk into a house and immediately think about the extra costs of repainting because they have a strong reaction to a color, she says.

Neutral colors also help a property look best in photographs online, which is where potential buyers first make the decision to look at a house or condo in person, says Long & Foster real estate agent Deb Gorham.

There are only a few situations in which they'll bend these unwritten rules. Gorham says it's okay to not repaint children's rooms, because it could be upsetting to a child who already is facing a big change when the family moves. Plus, she says, "sometimes you have families moving in, and perhaps those colors even entice the new family."

Another exception is in powder rooms, where home stager Monica Murphy feels it's easier to add personality: "Bathrooms, since they are private rooms and often have the door closed, can have more whimsical colors, like pumpkin, or a deeper green, or a silver gray -- colors I would never suggest for a public room like the living room or dining room," she writes in an e-mail.

Here are some recommended colors and the best places to use them:

Ground Ginger from Behr. Murphy, of Preferred Staging in Loudoun County, likes this pale olive because it "isn't overwhelming."

Kilim Beige from Sherwin-Williams. Lynn Chevalier, a home stager with Falls Church-based Staged Right, says this khaki color "makes the house more useful-looking. It covers up flaws nicely, and it has a very crisp look." Chevalier also recommends a near-white shade, Marshmallow from Sherwin-Williams, for the trim.

Pale Smoke from Benjamin Moore. "The master bedroom is the perfect room to impart color," says Leigh Newport of Staged by Design in Leesburg. This paint "is a soothing pale blue-gray that reflects well in photos," she says.

Rain from Sherwin-Williams. Turner, of D.C.-based Red House Staging and Interiors, says this smoky blue is on her bathroom walls. She says the bathroom is one place where she recommends color, because most homes have white bathroom fixtures. "A lot of times people have the white sink and the white bathtub and beige tile, or they might have a beige granite countertop, and to do beige in there is kind of boring," she says.

Rice Paddy from Duron. Gorham, who is based in Clifton, says, "We like to use it as accent walls, especially [in kitchens] above the sink area." She says this celery-green goes well with the popular granite countertop color uba tuba, which is a shade of green.

Wickham Gray from Benjamin Moore. Buckalew of Omni Home Staging likes using this solid gray to cover up bright colors. "All the red dining rooms need to be neutralized," she says. "If you don't like red, then you don't like the house."

Woodmont Cream from Benjamin Moore. Cindy Fortin of Cynthia Anne Interiors in Loudoun County says this pale neutral color helps rooms look brighter and more airy, even in small spaces lacking natural light. "A lot of times when you have the oak-colored cabinets, it just goes really well with that," she says.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company