Ask any home stager where you'll get the biggest bang for the buck when preparing your house to sell and they'll tell you to give your walls a fresh coat of paint.
Good advice, as far as it goes. Paint is relatively cheap and can have a huge impact on the way a buyer reacts to your home.
Where it gets tricky is trying to figure out which best paint colors work best. Stagers and real estate agenBut what, exactly, does that mean? White? Beige?
To shed some light on this question, Zillow recently did a study to identify the best colors to use and to quantify the positive or negative impact of different wall paint colors on the sales price of a home.
Based on the research they concluded that the best colors to paint your home to sell were:
- Light blue or periwinkle for bathrooms (+$5,440 price impact)
- Slate blue to pale gray blue for dining rooms (+$1,926)
- Light cerulean blue to cadet blue for bedrooms (+$1,865)
- Light blue or gray-blue for kitchens (+$1,809).
Slate blue dining room Light blue bedroom
The study also indicated which colors would actually have a negative impact on the sales price.
- White or off-white paint in the bathroom was a negative (-$4,035).
- Brick red or terracotta, once fairly common in dining rooms, is definitely not a value add these days (-$2,031).
- Yellow tones like straw gold or marigold for a kitchen are also out (-$820).
While many of these findings are broadly on target, I don't think they actually give you much guidance in choosing what specific color to paint your walls. After all, Benjamin Moore alone has over 300 shades of blue in its line and 200+ shades of gray.
There are also a couple hundred shades of off-white. And some of them ARE good for selling a house. But which ones?
Chicago Area Home Stagers Share Recommended Paint Colors
I decided to go straight to the experts and find out what SPECIFIC paint shades work best to sell a house on the North Shore of Chicago. This is what my panel of home stagers and designers said:
Julea Joseph, home stager and interior stylist of Reinventing Space advised carrying the same color throughout the main rooms of the house to make it feel more open and more cohesive.
Her go-to wall colors are Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter (HC- 172) and Edgecomb Gray (HC-173), which are both from the Historic Color collection.
She also likes Sherwn Williams Colonade and Modern Gray. These are all warm grays which can be used in almost any room or any style of house.
Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter (HC-172)
Although gray has been popular with younger buyers for the past 2-3 years, Julea cautions against going with a cool gray (blue undertones) if there is a lot of oak trim or cabinetry in the house, as the warm tones of the wood will fight with the cool paint tones.
Speaking of oak cabinets, she warns that these are definitely NOT what today's buyers want and advises sellers to paint them a fresh white. Benjamin Moore's White Dove (OC-17) is her favorite color for painting cabinets as well as trim throughout the house.
Benjamin Moore White Dove cabinets (OC-17)
Audrey Gourguechon, of Staging North Shore, also likes White Dove for trim because it's creamy and soft, not too bright or stark.
She agrees with the Zillow study that you shouldn't use white on the walls. It feels cold, empty and uninviting.
Instead, she says, go for "greige" or a warm neutral gray that can work well with either gray or beige tones in the room. She recommends Revere Pewter. Edgecomb Gray is her choice if there are a lot of yellow undertones in the furniture or decor, as it reads more beige than Revere Pewter, and won't fight with the yellower tones.
Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray (HC-173)
If a room's decor has more cool tones in the upholstery or curtains, then she opts for Wickham Gray, which has a slight blue undertone. Stonington Gray is a good choice for someone who wants a true gray without warm undertones.
Benjamin Moore Wickham Gray (HC-171)
Audrey's final advice to home sellers: get rid of accent walls, especially reds and purples, as they limit the number of people who will respond positively. For example, only 10% of people like red in their home decor, so a red accent wall will limit your home's appeal. And that's definitely not the objective!
Shani Abrams and Jane Berlowe of Shani and Jane Design in Skokie recommend taking the room's exposure and amount of light into account when choosing paint color.
They like Revere Pewter, but caution that it can come across as having a green undertone if the light in the room is too yellow. It's also not ideal for dark rooms or hallways. Wish (AF-680) from Benjamin Moore's Affinity Collection is very similar to Revere Pewter, but without the slight green undertone.
Ballet White (OC-9) is a nice neutral for those who prefer an off-white. Glass Slipper (1632) works well for bedrooms and baths, because it is serene and calming.
Benjamin Moore Glass Slipper (1632)
For trim, they recommend either Super White for more contemporary homes or White Dove for more classic styles.
Anne Fitzpatrick of Chestnut and Scott says that your paint choices should help buyers notice and appreciate the home's architectural features instead of distracting from them. That means keeping it neutral but warm, not stark looking.
Like the rest of the experts she favors Revere Pewter because it can morph into either gray or tan depending on the light but it doesn't stand out too much as one or the other.
She also likes Benjamin's Moore's Wheeling Neutral (HC-92). It's less gray, more tan than Revere Pewter, but still provides a nice contrast with white moldings.
Benjamin Moore Wheeling Neutral (HC-92)
She recommends that sellers with wood-toned kitchen cabinets paint them a soft white for a classic and timeless look.
DiAnn Hillesland a home stager in Winnetka says that, while Revere Pewter is a staple color for home stagers, her favorites are Pale Oak (OC-20) and Balboa Mist (OC-27), which look great with dark wood floors and furniture. She also likes Sea Pearl ( OC-19), which is a warm off-white.
Benjamin Moore Pale Oak (OC-20)
Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist (0C-27)
Consensus Among Local Stagers - But Not With Zillow
It looks like there's quite a bit of consensus among local staging experts about the best colors to use to appeal to today's buyers. Interestingly, they mentioned a lot less use of blues than the Zillow study suggested, and a lot more use of grays and "greiges."
Which just goes to show that paint color preferences are local, just like real estate.
Among our panel, Revere Pewter is the most popular wall color and it works in almost any situation. Other warm grays mentioned include Wish, Pale Oak and Edgecomb Gray.
For a cooler gray, use Wickham Gray or Stonington Gray.
For a color that goes more towards tan, Wheeling Neutral.
For bedrooms and baths, Glass Slipper.
White Dove is the color of choice for trim, as well as painting wood cabinetry.
Here are the twelve best colors, side-by-side, so you can compare:
The 12 Best Paint Colors To Sell Your North Shore Home
Thinking of selling? Wondering what to do to prepare your house to sell? I can help. Call me at 847-687-5957.