Color Month

3 Colors You Should Never Paint Your Furniture, According to Real Estate Pros

published Jul 13, 2023
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Woman painting the inside of a dresser aqua blue. She is in an empty room except for a ladder. There is a lot of light coming in.
Credit: Alistair Berg/Getty Images

When selling your home, you want to make a lasting impression on potential buyers from the moment they enter the door. One often overlooked element that can significantly impact the buyer’s perception? The colors of your cabinets and furniture. 

Yes, you might love those quirky turquoise cabinets you DIYed during the thick of the pandemic, but believe it or not, the colors you choose can either draw buyers in or send them running for the hills. I spoke to several real estate pros to uncover the paint colors you should avoid in your home and why.

Bright Red

Vibrant, intense colors might reflect your personal style, but they can also be overwhelming for potential buyers — and bright red is one color that topped the “no” list for all the pros I spoke to.

“It will take anyone just a few days to regret their idea of painting the cabinet or wardrobes in bright red,” says David Tully, a real estate expert based in Reno, Nevada. “Red is such a color that looks great as a complement but not always the entire thing, especially furniture.” Tully notes it can look nice on a sunny day, but on dull days or at nighttime, red furniture or cabinets can appear overwhelming.

If you absolutely need a pop of scarlet in your home, he recommends adding a few red details, like cushions, knobs, or rims. 

Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock


While dark colors can create an intimate and cozy ambiance (and are oh-so-trendy!), they can also make a space appear smaller and less inviting. Deep shades like black, charcoal gray, or espresso brown can make cabinets and furniture seem heavy and overpowering, and potential buyers may perceive such colors as outdated or difficult to integrate into their desired aesthetic.

While the look might be crisp and clean to start, they can also wear badly. “I’ve been in too many houses that have painted their maple cabinets with a dark color to chase a trend, and now they look terrible with a little wear and tear on them,” says Brad Officer, a Jacksonville, Florida-based Realtor. 


Here’s one group of colors you may have thought were safe — after all, pastels are pretty neutral, right? Not so, it turns out.

“Pastels give a washed-out effect, which can be associated with the furniture being rundown or old,” Stephen Keighery, the CEO and founder of Home Buyer Louisiana, explains. “Even if the furniture is not that aged and the paint is new, pastels can give the opposite effect.”

The colors you select for your cabinets and furniture have a profound impact on the overall impression of your home, but remember that the quality of the paint job matters as well. “A poorly executed paint job can be just as detrimental as a poor color choice,” explains Derek Morgan, a real estate broker with more than 20 years of experience and the chief real estate officer at startup Unreal Estate. “Ensuring that the painting is done professionally, or at least with great care, can significantly increase the appeal of your furniture and home.”

By avoiding bright and overwhelming hues, dark and gloomy shades, and shabby colors, you can create a more marketable, timeless space that appeals to a broader range of people, increasing the chances of attracting potential buyers and selling your home successfully.