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Staging with color

Red kitchen cabinets work!
Karen Eubank

Your home has a lime green wall that looks absolutely splendid as a backdrop for your white leather Roche Bobois sofa and David Hockney lithograph. However, you’re selling your house and you’re dreading the stager’s visit and those three little words “paint it beige”. Relax. You can keep that lime wall. Sure there are times when Kilim Beige and Agreeable Gray are the perfect choice, but not always. Stagers consider the demographic, the price point, the whole look and feel of a home. When a seller lives in a beautiful art filled contemporary high-rise overlooking the Winspear Opera House in downtown Dallas, no one is going to suggest painting the walls beige. If they do, run away, fast.

Color can sell a house. It can create an impression that makes a home stand out in a buyer’s mind. Now I don’t mean your standard and oh so tired red dining room. I mean color that is used wisely and in just the right place. Color can transform a space by conveying an attitude or a feeling.

I put the question of when colors work and when they don’t to professional home stagers around the country and here’s what they had to say.

“Each property is unique and color selections should be about marketing the house in a way that brings out the features and connects a buyer to that particular home,” Sebastian St. Troy, owner of Austin Market Ready Services in Austin, said.

“I have used many bold colors, but they were very specific to the room, geographic location, and perception of the local population,” Sherri Gold, owner of The Staging Coach in Moorestown, New Jersey said. “The colors you use in California may not be acceptable in New Jersey. Any color no matter how bold, tempered with white, can be successful if used sparingly.”

“I think the key to using any bold color is: can you keep it from being taste specific?” Karyn Terpstra of Simply Memorable Staging and Redesign in Peoria, Illinois said. “If the whole room follows a bold color theme you may turn off a lot of buyers who don't have accessories or furniture in that color. However, if the walls are the bold statement and the furniture and accessories are complementing neutrals, it can work.”

“I have always had great success in using color, and lots of it,” Joseph Ernish, owner of Design Consortium/Urbana Flora in San Francisco said. My current favorite color is a rich deep olive, it was extremely popular many years ago and casts a very flattering glow. Add black, white or even a warm tan to accent. Other colors I love to use are Hampshire Gray, Clarksville Gray and Wedgewood Gray. I choose most of my colors from Benjamin Moore Classic colors or Farrow and Ball.”

“The Realtors have only been responding to much of the same outdated concepts that are taught in all of the home staging trainings, not to mention they have always been inclined to white because they never learned the value of color, St Troy said. “There are many good reasons to leave a paint color in a home. If the color works for the home, will appeal to the target buyer or creates the desired positive and connecting emotion for the buyer, leave it there. 

If a home has to be painted due to age or neglect, we always recommend bolder colors. One of the homes in our Project Management phase was all beige. The entry was repainted a funky gray brown, the powder room an almost pink red and the master bath a funky yellow. It’s not always about leaving a paint color, more often than not it is about recommending new stronger colors that give a voice to the house. Color sells, that’s my motto!”

Don’t be afraid to keep a bold color or add one when selling your home. Consult with a professional and make sure they know your local market and understand the demographic of the buyer looking at the home. Then go ahead, paint that wall orange!


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