The top paint shades when you are preparing to sell your Westchester County home
Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most effective, easiest and most efficient ways to update your home. It returns a positive ROI (Return on Investment) and generally helps houses sell faster and at higher values.
Choosing a light fresh shade of paint can make your space look larger, more cohesive and neutral enough to help buyers envision themselves living there. In addition, according to an article from Business Insider, choosing the right shade of paint can make an impact on how much your home sells for.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of new home buyers, sellers, realtors and stagers, so I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to selling your house, you want to choose colors that appealing to buyers – the ones that are neutral, light, inviting and show your space well. Ironically, these colors are fairly consistent with the most popular shades of paint that most home owners choose for themselves when they are planning to stay in their homes.
I’ve been in the home improvement business for over 10 year doing both flooring and painting, so I want to share my insights with you
What types of paint shades should you choose when you are putting your house on the market?
As a general rule, when you’re preparing your house for sale, you want colors that are neutral, light and inviting. You want to appeal to the majority of home buyers, and you want to avoid colors that are dark or taste specific.
Now, many people interpret “neutral” to mean white, and that is generally a color I would avoid if you’re selling. Most stagers and realtors will recommend avoiding white. And, they are RIGHT. Why? Because white is sterile, stark and uninviting. It’s also boring. Instead, you want a shade that is neutral and light, but also has a bit of personality and invites the buyer into your house. You want a color that makes it feel like a home.
So, does neutral mean beige? Usually beige is not the best choice. It’s usually a bit better than white, but beige can also be a bit boring as well as dated. Beige is a warm color, and now the preference is to go with cool shades. In fact, 80% of the customers in the Westchester and NYC Metro area prefer cool tones over warm tones (and it’s been that way over the last 5-7 and the preference has been growing).
Believe it or not, the most popular color choice is now GRAY! Yes, gray! And, it’s even more popular than white (which is astounding when you consider that most rentals use white). Here’s a great article on the most popular shades of gray. This is a nationwide statistic based on actual paint sales, not just stated preferences.
While gray may be the most popular, gray doesn’t work in all spaces…and there are many variations of gray (with blue undertones, taupe or green undertones, beige undertones, etc), so you do need to find the right gray (see below for some specific suggestions). But, if gray doesn’t work, a wonderful alternative is Greige. Greige is a mixture of gray and beige and it works in most homes.
Aside from grays and greiges, certain light or pale blues work well, especially in bedrooms, some kitchens and bathrooms. Blue is another cool color, and all 3 of these color families work especially well with dark hardwood floors (which are currently the most popular – see 2018 Hardwood flooring trends), white cabinets and white base molding.
And, while I advised you to avoid white, there are some exceptions. White can work very well in very modern home, especially where the decor is a combo of black, white and gray. But, you’ll want to get the right white, and avoid other whites (see below for more specifics).
Please note that the preferred shades can vary based on your geography, as well as the style of your home, color of your floors as well as furniture. Since I live here in Westchester County NY, I’m going to focus on what works best for the NYC Metro area, and it generally applies to the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states.
But, as I mentioned, the exact right shade may vary based on your floor color, kitchen and bathroom cabinets as well as style of the home, and I’d encourage you to see what works best and actually get testers from the store and look at them on your walls and in your own lighting. Also, feel free to contact a local stager.
If you live in Westchester County NY, we can help you with this. If you’re on a mobile device, you can Call me here. If not, feel free to use our contact form at the bottom of the page. Please note that we only serve Westchester County, NY.
Below I’m going to go into more detail. I’ll share the exact shades of paint I recommend. I’m also going to recommend the brands of paint to use, and the finishes, as well as colors you should avoid.
Colors you want to AVOID when staging and selling a home
- Dark colors (e.g. black, navy, dark brown, dark blues/purples/greens – they make your space look smaller and more closed in
- Taste specific colors or colors that evoke specific reactions (e.g. reds, burgundy’s
- Bright and saturated colors (e.g. orange, bright yellow, bright green, etc.)
- Gender specific colors (e.g. pinks, lavenders).
- Warm colors, especially yellows and colors with orange undertones.
- Linen white, or similar “off white” colors that have yellow undertones (yellows/warm colors are so dated…and linen white is used in rental apartments so it looks cheap).
- Many different colors (this makes house look smaller and creates more clutter)
If you have these colors in any of your rooms, you should consider painting them. These colors will reduce the value of your home (and yes there are studies to confirm this).
Best Brands of Paint
Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore are 2 of the best and most well known brands of paint, and you won’t go wrong with either of these. I would avoid buying paint from the Big Box stores, especially Home Depot’s Behr. This paint is simply inferior. It’s thinner, so you will actually need more coats of paint.
Just to put this in perspective, the best of the best at Home Depot is inferior to the lowest grade paints at the Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. Don’t fall for their marketing claims or gimmicks that you will only need 1 coat of paint (rather than 2) or paint and primer in one. I can tell you from experience that they don’t compare to basic mid grade paints. Generally, they do NOT save you money (and I understand that many are trying to save money, especially if they are selling their home). I can tell you from experience that these paints will usually require an additional coat of paint, so you’ll be paying for MORE paint + MORE labor. So, don’t waste your time and money. You do get what you pay for.
I’ve been working with painters for years, and most of them will refuse to use Behr products unless the homeowner doubles the amount of paint estimated and are willing to go back and get even more if a 3rd coat is needed (and willing to pay them for the extra money). These products are designed for cheap and gullible customers, so don’t be one of them. Regardless of whether you are painting yourself (to save money) or hiring a professional, at least start with the right product.
Now, when you’re selling your home, you do not need to buy the most expensive paint. You just want a basic mid grade paint. For Sherwin Williams, we generally use Promar 200 or Benjamin Moore UltraSpec. These are good paints that won’t break the bank and they will show well for when you’re selling your home. There are certainly higher grade lines you could use (e.g. Sherwin Williams Duration or Emerald, or Benjamin Moore Regal or Aura). But when you’re selling your home, these are great value products so that you’re doing a quality job without spending a ton of money.
Best shades of paint for staging and selling a home
Here are some great neutral paint colors if you’re looking to sell your home. (Note: these colors also work if you’re moving into a new house). I’ve provided options for both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams.
Grays and Greiges
Benjamin Moore Abalone 2108-60
This is a light shade of gray and works with virtually every color palette. It works with dark floors and light floors and almost every color in between.
This color is rather versatile and works well for both large and small spaces.
Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172
This is a true greige color – a mixture of gray and beige. It’s one of the hottest grays and most popular when it comes to staging homes. I believe it’s one of Benjamin Moore’s best sellers. Revere Pewter is a warm gray so it’s inviting and complements most decor styles. It seems to work with both warm and cool accents. It looks especially striking with dark espresso floors. The trim in this picture is Benjamin Moore White Dove.
Sherwin Williams Silverpointe 7653
This is probably our most popular paint choice here in Westchester County. It’s such a wonderful gray as it’s light and has some taupy undertones. This brings in some warmth and it just seems to go with almost any colors. Similar to Revere Pewter (Benjamin Moore), it goes with virtually any color scheme and any floor color. It works with both cool and warm color accents (e.g. pillows, area rugs, etc.)
Benjamin Moore Sterling 1591
This is a cool and light gray tone. This color is cool and steely. It often works best when there are some dark browns in the room to add a bit of warmth.
Sherwin Williams Passive Gray SW7064
This is a very cool and light gray tone from Sherwin Williams. It works incredibly well with dark floors and white or cream furniture.
This color works in both large and small rooms.
Sherwin Williams Gray screen SW7071
This is probably our 2nd most popular color here in Westchester. It is a light and cool gray with blue undertones. So, Silverpointe is a bit warmer and gray scale is a bit cooler. They both work for most color schemes. Gray Screen is currently Sherwin William’s #1 color. It’s even more popular than white. It’s often good to test both, to see which one works best.
Benjamin Moore Metropolitan AF-690
This is a medium gray paint with cool blue undertones. It tends to work really well in bathrooms with marble or white tiles.
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal HC 166 This is a great color if you want to create some drama. It should be used sparingly (e.g in 1 room such as a dining room or an accent wall). I would only do this for well lit rooms, ideally where the floors are light or mid toned and with wainscoting at the bottom (so the color is less intense) or for just an accent wall).
Here are some other great gray and greige choices, but please note that some of them are a bit darker (more like a mid gray) and these may be too dark for many homes. You want to err on the lighter side unless you have a huge amount of light. Benjamin Moore: Stonington Gray HC170, Conventry Gray HC-169 (mid gray), Chelsea Gray HC 168 (darker dramatic gray – may work as an accent wall). Sherwin Williams: Repose Gray SW 7015, Modern Gray SW 7632, Light French Gray SW 0055, Colonnade Gray SW 7641.
Beige paint choices
Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige SW 7036
While beige would not be my first choice when prepping a home for the market, if you need to do a beige, Accessible Beige from Sherwin Williams is a great choice.
While white would not be my first choice (as it’s often a bit stark and sterile), in some circumstances, it just works well. It tends to work well in extremely modern homes, it can also work when a room is rather dark and doesn’t have many windows (and you need some brightness). It can also work if you have a lot of color in the room (from furniture, area rugs, etc) and you just want an extremely neutral canvas.
Now, bear in mind that there are MANY whites…in fact hundreds of them. (In fact, many get overwhelmed when looking at all of the shades of white. By all means, you want to avoid linen white or anything similar with yellow undertones. These colors are very dated and look very cheap (because linen white is a standard contractor color that has been used in rentals for years. I can’t even tell you how many of my customers HATE this color and literally want to avoid it like the plague.
Instead, if you’re going to go with white, choose a cool white. It’s more neutral and it’s more peaceful. For Sherwin Williams, most choose Alabaster. In fact, it’s their second most popular color. Or, if you want white white, go for Pure White
If you’re using Benjamin Moore, try White Dove (OC-17) or Simply White OC-117 (if you want a white white).
Sometimes a very light muted blue can work. This works especially well with dark hardwood floors and bathrooms, especially those with marble or white tile. Sometimes, you need a cool tone, but you just can’t find the right gray. This sometimes happens when you have a room with different shades of gray, so the gray paint may work with some of the grays in the room but class with others. The light blue gives a new perspective and tends to unify those colors.
Sherwin Williams Mild Blue SW6533 or Benjamin Moore Misty Blue 820
Blue is peaceful and soothing. But, if you choose blue, be very careful. The biggest mistake people make is choosing a blue that is too saturated and then it looks cheap (and can become polarizing). For Sherwin Williams, Mild Blue SW 6533 works well or for Benjamin Moore try Misty Blue 820.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s often best to try testers to validate the colors. They certainly look different on the computer screen than real life, but also the color swatches from the stores can look different n your walls based on your lighting and floor colors. In fact, you will see that the same color appears different on different wall (due to lighting and shadows).
Best paint finish for selling a home selling a home
By far, the most popular and stylish paint finish is Flat. Flat has no sheen. It looks fresh and new and it camouflages imperfections in the wall better. The shinier you go, the more it shows imperfections in the walls (as well as sloppy paint jobs).
Note: Flat is flatter than matte, eggshell is a bit shinier than matte, satin is a bit shinier and semi and high gloss are even glossier. The flatter you go, the more stylish and the LESS it shows imperfections in the walls. Egg shell and shinier are rather dated (although you may want to use these in moist areas such as bathrooms and kitchen, unless you can afford a more expensive paint such as Sherwin Williams’ Duration or Emerald or Benjamin Moore’s Regal or Aura as these lines are more wipeable and resilient to minor moisture.
So, when it comes time to sell, choose a flat finish!
1 coat of paint vs 2 coats of paint
As a general rule, if the current paint and walls are in good condition, you will want 2 coats of paint if you are changing the color, or 1 coat of paint if you are keeping the same color. If you need to do repair work (e.g. sand down some areas, spackle or add putty), then you’ll want to do 2 coats (otherwise the repair will shine through).
If you have wood paneling (or wood doors/trim) or if you have a very dark color (e.g. black, navy or dark blues or dark greens, burgundy, etc.) or very bright color (e.g. orange, red, mustard gold), then you would want to do 3 coats (usually a primer + 2 coats of paint).
And, as mentioned above, don’t believe the gimmicks that you’ll find in many big box stores that claim you only need 1 coat of paint…or their paint is primer + paint in one. Believe me, you will need a 2nd coat as the previous color will shine though. So you’ll find yourself going back to the store and buying more paint. This will mean you’ll either need to pay your painter extra for the additional coat, or you’ll be spending more time on it. Believe me, you are better off getting quality paint…it will look better, last longer and reduce the labor costs and time.
One color vs multiple colors
As a general rule, I’d recommend using one or just a small number of colors. The more consistent you are with color, the larger and more cohesive your home will look. It will also save you a bit of money on the paint.
Avoid too many colors…this can create color clutter and distract your eye. The same goes for floors and furniture. Too many colors looks choppy.
This will also help the buyer focus on the home, rather than be distracted by the paint colors (not to mention thinking about how much they’ll need to spend to repaint areas. This is especially important for open concept floor plans.
While I love accent walls in some spaces, I would not recommend them when selling your home. They can just become a distraction (and many people overdo them).
While one color is usually ideal, I also think it’s perfectly fine (and occasionally preferable) to switch colors in the bathrooms, and if needed in the kitchen, as long as the colors are in the same color scheme and work together. It’s important that these shades go with the built in cabinets, tiles, etc and having some sort of neutral color in these rooms (one that goes with the tile and counter tops) gives these rooms a more finished look. Bathrooms are usually closed off anyway.
I have also seen it work where there is one main color in all the common areas (i.e. living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, hallways, stair cases, etc.) and then a 2nd color for all the bedrooms. (And, there could be 3rd color for the bathrooms). This especially works if all colors are cool toned and on the lighter side. For example, you could do light gray for main areas, light blue in all bedrooms, white in bathrooms.
But, try to avoid doing different colors in each of the bedrooms. This just makes the place look choppy. It’s different if you are moving into a new home and your kids each want different colors. But, when you’re selling, go for light, neutral and inviting. And, remember you don’t know who will be buying your home and the gender of their kids, nor their or their kids’ color preferences (and yes, some girls like blues, some pinks, some greens, as an example).
Painting your house before you put it on the market can make a big difference. It can help you sell your house faster and for more money as it makes your house look clean and fresh as well as more up to date with the current color trends. And, often, painting will make your house look larger.
The general principles to follow are to go lighter, neutral (ideally gray or greige/cool tones) and be as consistent with color throughout the house as possible. 3 or fewer colors is better (one for main areas, potentially a 2nd for bedrooms, potentially a 3rd for bathrooms.
Are you ready to paint your home in Westchester County?
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Related articles for painting and selling a house:
- Most popular shades of gray paint
- How to paint your cabinets the RIGHT way
- Should you paint or refinish the floors first? (Most are surprised by the answer)
- Which types of flooring give you the best ROI (return on investment)
- Do hardwood floors improve a home’s value?
What are the best paint colors for selling your house?