Without a doubt, the most popular question I get asked when conducting a staging consult is what color should I paint my walls? And that’s a good question, because by far, hands down, painting your house before you sell, can be the BEST decision you make when you’re getting your house ready to sell. Its the most inexpensive yet effective way to add value to your home and the increase your house’s value.
Painting your home is the #1 most effective inexpensive renovation that will increase the value of your home exponential more than other renovations that you can do to your house.
But I like my current paint color. Why do I need to paint my house?
If potential buyers feel the need to paint your house, they will either move on to another house that doesn’t need painting, or worse, they will come in with a lower offer compensating for their time, materials & labor to repaint the house.
“What paint color should I paint my house when selling my home?”
The purpose of staging when getting your house ready to sell, is that you’re appealing to the majority of the buyers, which means you’re appealing to 80 to 90% of the population. That means you need to make your house neutral, trendy and appealing to the masses so that they can picture themselves living in your home. It doesn’t mean that every single room in your house has to be a neutral. You can have different color trends in your home. Popular rooms to add pops of color would be an office, powder room, dining room or a primary bedroom. It’s how often, and how you use them is the important question to ask.
Neutral walls is the canvas like an artist’s canvas to create a masterpiece. Its the backdrop to add the décor and accessories which will add pizzazz to the home. Also, your walls may need a refresh if they haven’t been painted for awhile to give them that new fresh feeling as opposed to a tired & worn look.
BUT the big question is, what is the best neutral for your home? The word “neutral” conjures up different images in our minds. To some, neutral is gray, others its white or cream, others its beige, tan or greige. And there you have it! That is the challenge when you tell some that they should “paint their house a neutral color.”
What is the best neutral to stage your house with?
Ironically, neutrals come in many “colors.” If you say to someone they should paint their house “neutral”, they may be thinking they should paint their house gray, whereas you were thinking white. Some also call cream, tan or beige a neutral. As we casually throw the term “neutrals” around, we are in fact referring to colors that are technically not neutral. Some neutrals have color added to them, therefore, its important to determine what the best “neutral” is for your home. Its NOT a one size fits all.
Staging Paint Color Trends
Trends in paint colors for getting your house ready to sell come and go just like any other design trend. We went from deep beige in the 90’s to gray for a decade and then all white for another decade.
Enter the pandemic and we got bored, so bored, of staring at all gray or all white walls.
Also, trends in staging paint colors vary by region. What is popular in one person’s region, may not be popular somewhere else. Therefore its REALLY important to check other listings out in your area, to not only see paint color trends but also other trends & upgrades that are prominent in your area.
Ready for the new popular staging color? White. YES, white! But WAIT! White MAY NOT be for you!!! Especially cool whites! There are other options!
2023 Top 5 Staging Paint Color Choices:
When I first started staging in 2006, Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter was the go-to color for most stagers at the time. Revere Pewter is a warm light gray with green undertones. You saw it everywhere. Then it became too dark apparently for staging. Revere Pewter is now making a comeback in house interiors, but NOT for staging.
Gray took over and all you saw was gray walls, gray flooring, gray kitchens, and gray furniture. But the mid-tone gray that I nickname cement gray or battleship gray is out.
The whole all gray look is out.
White walls have taken over as the leading staging paint color, but you will still see lighter grays that are very popular. The mid to darker grays are out for staging.
Its not hard to see why white is now the favorite neutral paint color. Its fresh and inviting. You see beautifully styled white rooms in the magazines and all over Instagram feeds. Its the blank canvas to create your stunning home.
But unfortunately there is a drawback to white paint colors that you may not even discover until you spent the time and money painting your room white, only to hate it in the end.
How can painting your house white go wrong? There are two types of white paint. Cool white and warm white. Picking the correct tone of white can look amazing likewise picking the wrong tone can be disastrous.
Warm whites have warm undertones of pink, red, orange and yellow. They look soft, warm and relaxed. Warm white rooms are cozy and inviting.
Cool whites have blue and gray undertones. They appear clean and crisp. Cool white painted rooms are the backdrop to create a masterpiece. Cool whites are great for rooms that get alot of natural light throughout the year. Cool white can look amazing BUT they can also make a room look dingy like primer or gray if used in the wrong conditions.
Generally speaking, and its dangerous to talk in wide generalities, soft or warm whites suit transitional and traditional homes, and also homes with a north face light, whereas cool whites work well for contemporary homes.
Best Warm White
If you you’re looking for a whole house paint color, a warm white is a good choice for you. Warm whites are clean, fresh and the white gives you a clean slate to style it the way you want. Its your canvas as you stage and style your home. Warm whites are particularly favorable for those tricky north facing rooms.
Benjamin Moore OC-17 White Dove
Benjamin Moore’s White Dove is in the white collection. It’s one of their most popular if not the most popular, soft warm white paint color. It is a soft warm white with creamy undertones and a slight hint of greige. It’s a great color for a whole house staging color and for all facing directions of light. Its difficult to go wrong with this color when getting your house ready to sell.
You could also use this color for doors and trim with a different sheen like semi-gloss for a slight differentiation.
In my recent house flip, flip #9, I used the similar equivalent of Benjamin Moore White Dove, Behr Palais White. As you can see in the three pictures above, its a warm white and great for a whole house. The difference of the white in the pictures is due to the direction that the room was facing, and how much light the room was receiving.
Benjamin Moore OC-117 Simply White
Benjamin Moore’s Simply White was the Color of the Year 2016. It’s popular because its both a bright and warm white at the same time making it very versatile. Its often used for doors & trim, but due to its warm yellow undertones, it looks great on walls as well and creates that perfect canvas to decorate & stage your home. Its best for more traditional & transitional homes as opposed to contemporary because of its warm yellow undertones. If your home is modern & contemporary, you will want to move on a pick another white.
Sherwin Williams Alabaster SW 7008
Sherwin William’s Alabaster is one of their most popular off-whites. It was Color of the Year 2016. Its a beautiful soft warm white that is often compared to Benjamin’s White Dove & Simply White but a wee bit warmer. Its has warm soft undertones of gray and beige which makes it very versatile for use as a whole house paint color for staging your house for sale.
Best Cool Whites
Last year, I was called in to help two separate clients who’s realtors told them to paint their house “white” since it was the trending color. The challenge was that these whites were not the best whites for their respective homes. The whites were cool whites, too stark, and showed lots of gray and shadows ,especially at night time where typically alot of showings occur. Both houses were on the market for 4+ months without being sold. Working with the clients we were able to soften the look of the stark white with using accessories and adding larger pictures. Not the best solution but it worked. The best solution, of course, is choosing the right color the first time around, and not having the stress and expense of a house for sale for 4 months!
Cool white is currently a very trendy color to paint your house with, especially for staging, but it doesn’t suit all houses. It’s the trickiest color to decorate with! Cool white is best for contemporary interiors. The accessories and lighting also need to complement the interior look. If you’re going with a cool white, add additional lighting for those night time showings to show off the room in the best possible light (no pun intended – lol). Its not a good fit for transitional and traditional interiors as they will make the room look harsh. If you don’t have a contemporary space, try a warm white.
Sherwin Williams High Reflective White SW-7757
Sherwin Williams High Reflective White is pretty close to a pure white with a wee bit of warmth to it to prevent it from looking too stark. It will look amazing on your walls, trim and ceiling. Its one white that you can paint your entire room the same color and would work for a whole house paint color and would look great in contemporary interiors.
Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White OC-149
Decorator’s White is another favorite go to color in the Benjamin Moore family. Its a cool white with a gray undertone which makes it an off-white compared to a pure white. It can be used for walls and trim. It pairs well with gray paint if you’re looking for a white trim. Its a softer version of Chantilly Lace which is their purest version of a cool white.
Best Cream Paint Colors for Staging Your House
Cream is making a comeback. It’s easier to decorate with than white, and its perfect for houses that have warm elements like wood kitchens and warm wood floors. It suits houses that are more traditional. What exactly is cream vs white? Cream is in the off-white collection with yellow undertones. It has warmth to it but its not considered yellow.
Benjamin Moore OC-95 Navajo White
Benjamin Moore’s Navajo White is a great creams for staging. Its a warm neutral in its off-white collection and would be suitable for a whole house color, perfect for staging. It would complement warm woods in flooring and cabinets, as well as warm home décor. It’s warmer than a white, but lighter than a tan.
Sherwin Williams 7012 Creamy
SW Creamy is a great cream that can be used for staging. It’s a warm neutral in Sherwin Williams off-white collection. It would complement warm woods in flooring and cabinets, as well as warm home décor. Its warmer than a white, but lighter than a tan. SW Creamy is often compared to Benjamin Moore’s Navajo White. They’re very very similar but Navajo White is a tad darker than Creamy. This color would be great to paint a whole house in.
Best Gray Paint Colors for Selling Your House
I know, I know. I just talked about how gray is on its way out. Don’t use gray. The mid-tone grays are out, but the lighter grays are still in. Lighter grays are popular in some regions, where you will see the whites popular in other regions. Choose lighter grays as opposed to the mid-darker grays that were popular a few years ago.
Benjamin Moore’s Paper White OC-55
Benjamin Moore’s Paper White name is a little misleading. Its not actually white. It’s a “cool” gray that is very light and neutral. It’s perfect for houses that have gray colored floors, or fixed cool elements like gray kitchen cabinets. This light gray can be an option to tie your fixed elements together and create the perfect backdrop for artwork and accessories.
Sherwin William’s Olympus White SW6253
If you’re looking something for a little darker than Benjamin Moore’s Paper White, try Sherwin Williams’s Olympus White. Its name is also a little misleading as it too, like BM Paper White, its not actually white. LOL. It’s a “cool” gray that is very light and neutral, with blue undertones. This light gray can be an option to tie your fixed elements together and create the perfect backdrop for artwork and accessories. It is the darkest I would go in a gray to stage your home with these current trends.
BEST CEILING & TRIM COLORS TO SELL YOUR HOUSE
Using the same paint color for walls & trim
If you are painting your walls white, you can paint the trim in the same color but increase the sheen so that there is a differentiation between your wall color and the trim. For example, if you Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, in a matte or eggshell finish, you could paint the trim in a satin or semi-gloss finish. Read more about differences in paint finishes here.
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC-65 & Sherwin-Williams Pure White SW 7005
BM’s Chantilly Lace or SW’s Pure White is a fan favorite among designers & home owners alike. Chantilly Lace & Pure White is a “pure white” because it has no tint added to it. But because it has not tint, it appears bright. It can be a good thing or not a good thing depending on where you put it. It’s perfect for doors & trim when you’re pairing it with a wall color that’s too dark to paint the same color for the trim. Homeowners like these colors because they are considered pure white but some find it a wee too stark. If you’re looking for a trim with a bit of warmth, move on.
OC-117 Simply White
Benjamin Moore’s Simply White was the Color of the Year 2016. It’s popular because its both a bright and warm white at the same time making it very versatile. Its often used for doors & trim, but due to its warm yellow undertones, it looks great on walls as well and creates that perfect canvas to decorate & stage your home.
ACCENT WALLS ARE IN!
And, they add value to your home!
White interiors look great but a whole white or light gray house can look mundane without some pops of color. One easy way to add a pop to the all white interior trend, and to add interest to the room is by painting one wall a different color that coordinates with the room. This wall then becomes the accent wall, and the focal point in the room.
Don’t pick a trending paint color because a painter or realtor suggests it. It may not be the best color for YOUR house!
In one house I staged, the owner had complained about the furniture that I put into the home. It was the first complaint that I ever had about the furniture. The challenge wasn’t the furniture. The challenge was, the PAINTER had chosen the wrong color (picture at left) and it was difficult to make the house look warm & inviting. The kitchen cabinets were a warm honey oak while the floors, were a warm but darker reddish oak. The painter picked a cool gray because it was the trending staging paint color at the time. Everyone was using that color. But the cool gray clashed with the natural woods in the room and the warm beige carpet in the bedrooms. The room felt “off” no matter how great the furniture looked in the room. The correct color would have been a warm gray, tan or cream. The house sat on the market for 4+ months and a couple of price reductions before it was sold. This was AN unnecessary stress and loss of money for the homeowner if the color was picked correctly the first time around!
Research Your Area to Know What the Color Trends are for YOUR Neighborhood & Demographics
Cool grays are lighter now, and the warmer grays (greige as they have become known as) are lighter too. White & soft creams are the most popular staging colors, especially in new builds and commercial spaces. Light gray is popular in some areas whereas white is more popular in other areas. You need to know the trend in your neighborhood before you paint. Are you in an older suburb? Trendy condo or townhouse? Or a relatively new build? That’s why it’s important to search the current real estate listing in your area and go to open houses in your neighborhood as much as you can, so you will know the trends. Ideally, you should be starting this research well before you are ready to list your house.
More Posts on Preparing Your House for Sale:
Need help picking your paint colors?
This list is by no means exhaustive of paint colors that you can use for staging. But if you’re looking for a quick color to pick out on your own, it is a list of safe staging colors to make your house look amazing
But if you don’t see a color that you like or you’re just not sure, I can help you with that. As one of the first stagers ever in the industry, I have helped hundreds of clients make their homes stunning, and help them make money beyond their wildest expectations. I’ve staged many clients’ houses that sat on the market unstaged, to help & work with the clients, stage their home where the home sold within 1 – 2 weeks. As a real estate investor, I know what renovations work to sell a house for a healthy profit and which ones are not worth the investment. Let me help you choose the right color for the home.
The wrong wall color can make your house look dated, unattractive or clash with your current flooring, kitchen cabinets etc. which can turn potential buyers off. Make sure you have the right color for your furniture, accessories AND most importantly, the selling features of your home!
About Debi Collinson. Designer. Real Estate Investor.
I help busy homeowners, just like you, to style their house to make it a stunning retreat, where they can live and enjoy their home. I help homeowners, make money beyond their wildest expectations from the sale of their house by guiding them when they’re getting their house to sell.
I grew up learning how to read blue prints, going on construction sites and helping my dad, an Engineer|General Contractor|Co-Owner of a Design|Build|Engineering firm pick out paint colors for his buildings. Since 2006, I have been styling & staging hundreds of homes to make them look like they belong in a magazine page whether the client is styling to stay or staging to sell.
In my spare time, LOL, I buy “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent. I’m currently looking for my 10th “fixer upper.” Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time! Read my full story including my design credentials here.