To pick paint that sells, slip into neutral
When living in a home, the colors and d├ęcor should be whatever appeals to the owner and can be taste specific. Notice in this photo the cozy drapes and the large rolled-up rug. Lots of art remains on the walls, deterring the eye. The caramel color is bold. (pHOTOS BY KARA WOODS)
When you are selling, you want the room and all its architectural attributes to shine. For example, this room has an incredible fireplace, beamed cathedral ceiling, pretty light fixture, French doors to the patio, abundant natural light, and gorgeous wide-plank wood floors.Tim (tim lee)
By Kara Woods
Globe correspondent

As a designer and home stager, I’m often asked to weigh in on the selection of paint colors. Sellers and realtors want to know whether a certain color is in style and which color palettes will make their home appeal to a larger number of buyers.

Selling a home is all about merchandising. You must create an environment that appeals to your ideal buyer, and that means staying in the neutral and lighter tones when choosing paint colors. That said, you don’t want to cover your home in “builder white.’’ This palette fails to deliver a warm, personal feel.

Instead, consider a “greige’’ tone (that’s designer lingo for the combination of beige and gray). This neutral blend creates a warm, updated feel that delivers a punch of wow and effortlessly allows buyers to see themselves living in your home.

It is this punch of wow that translates into a powerful visual and emotional connection — a connection that often results in an offer.

My go-to paint colors

For hallways and larger spaces

I recommend very soft and light greige tones. The beauty of greige is that the hint of beige adds warmth into what can be a cool gray tone.

From Benjamin Moore: “Collingwood,’’ “Balboa Mist,’’ “Stonington Gray,’’ and “Pale Oak.’’

From Farrow & Ball: “Elephant’s Breath’’ and “Skimming Stone’’ (note: The color online does not represent the true hue; it is a warm gray tone).

For dining rooms, smaller spaces (such as a powder room), and areas that receive a lot of sunlight

These areas command a darker color. The current trend is light walls throughout with a pop of color in the dining or powder rooms.

From Farrow & Ball: “Pavilion gray.’’

From Benjamin Moore: “Smoke Embers,’’ “Cement Gray,’’ “Dior Gray,’’ and “Newburyport Blue.’’

For trim color:

Benjamin Moore: “White Dove’’ or “Simply White.’’

I recommend “White Dove’’ for colors with gray tones and “Simply White’’ for those with beige tones.

For a perfect white:

Farrow & Ball: “Pointing.’’

Additional tips

Benjamin Moore has several different levels of paint quality. When preparing a home for the market, I recommend the Regal Select or Ben product line. The price point is $36-$52 per gallon. Both are user friendly and easy to apply with zero volatile organic compounds.

Farrow & Ball is a very high-end paint, averaging $100 per gallon. At that price, it may not be the product you want to use when preparing to sell.

Finally, when choosing a color, be sure to view it on perpendicular walls at different times of the day. Paint colors change in sunlight and interior lighting.



Kara Woods, an award-winning home staging and design professional who specializes in the luxury market, teaches at the Academy of Home Staging, and serves as Northeast regional vice president of the Real Estate Stagers Association. Send comments and questions to