A fresh coat of paint is a fairly inexpensive way to refresh the look of your home; the average exterior paint job costs about $2,600, while interior paint costs $1,660, according to Home Advisor. But choose the wrong shade and you could wind up regretting it later. Paint your home with a weird color either inside or out and buyers might turn up their noses, even though repainting is a relatively easy fix.
Fears of hurting a home’s selling price are likely one reason why many homeowners play it safe when it comes to paint colors, especially for a house’s exterior (restrictive HOA rules, which affect 20% of Americans, might be another). Favorite exterior color combinations include white and gray, beige and taupe, and slate and black, according to the 2013 National Home Color Survey.
Neutrals also win inside the home. Hot interior paint colors for 2016 include grays and shades of white, along with natural-looking greens. The love for neutral or natural shades extends to buyers. When Zillow Digs analyzed photos of 50,000 recently sold homes, they found those with rooms painted in certain colors tended to command higher selling prices than expected. Homes with creamy yellow or wheat-colored kitchens, light green or khaki bedrooms, dove or light gray living rooms, and mauve or lavender dining rooms sold for $1,100 to $1,300 more than properties decorated with less popular colors.
“A fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to improve a home’s appearance before listing,” Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, said. “However, to get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with colors that have mass appeal so you attract as many potential buyers to your listing as possible. Warm neutrals like yellow or light gray are stylish and clean, signaling that the home is well cared for, or that previous owners had an eye for design that may translate to other areas within the house.
Light grays and yellows may have been popular with buyers, but they had a much cooler reaction to other colors. Some of the interior paint colors they disliked might surprise you. Before you grab the paintbrush, check out this list of the four worst colors to paint your home.
1. Off-white or eggshell
Shades of white might seem like a safe bet when you’re at the home improvement store, but they aren’t guaranteed to be a big hit with buyers. Homes with off-white or eggshell kitchens sold for $82 less than Zillow estimated they would. Instead, people loved kitchens with a coat of wheat yellow paint on the walls, which boosted a home’s selling price by $1,360.
You don’t have to give up gallery-white walls entirely, though. Painting a room white isn’t always a bad choice, especially if the space has great natural light, according to designer Emily Henderson. But if a space is small or dark (like some kitchens), white walls can make a room look “dead” and “flat.”
2. Dark brown
Dark brown walls didn’t resonate with buyers in Zillow’s study. Bedrooms painted dark brown sold for $236 less than expected, while using the same shade in a bathroom lowered the selling price by $469. The color is so disliked by some people that the Australian government considered using it on cigarette packaging to make smoking less appealing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. (They went with a brownish olive green instead.)
It’s not quite as jarring as traffic cone orange, but even a more muted terracotta shade could depress your home’s selling price. Homes with living rooms painted the same shade as an inexpensive flower pot sold for $793 less than Zillow’s estimated price. Light gray was the preferred color in that room.
The negative reaction to orange walls isn’t too surprising, considering surveys have found it’s one of the least-liked colors in the world. (Blue is the most popular color by far, followed by red and green.)
4. Slate gray
Gray is trendy color right now, but all grays aren’t created equal. While dove or light gray was a hit in living rooms, helping to boost a home’s selling price by $1,104, dark gray was a dud. Paint your home’s dining room a slate color and you could lose $1,112 when it comes time to sell. Instead, buyers favored shades of mauve, eggplant, and lavender in the dining room.