The Best Colors to Paint Your Living Room, According To Real Estate Experts

published Oct 31, 2019
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Credit: Viv Yapp

Did you know that according to Zillow’s 2018 paint color analysis, brown, black, green, and even orange living rooms sold as much as 1.1 percent more, on average, than similarly-sized homes in different hues? Sounds surprising—especially when the basic advice real estate agents and professional stagers give is that a fresh coat of off-white paint can do wonders to sell a home—and is much cheaper than, say, a new couch.

But here’s the thing: The living room is perhaps the most versatile room in your home. It can be a library, movie screening space, nap zone, casual dining area, and so much more. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation, explain Paul Maranger and Christian Vermast, real estate brokers with Paul and Christian Associates in Toronto, Ontario. So, according to the pair, the best method in picking out a living room paint color isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, either.

“The color in the living room should be carefully selected to suit how you use that specific room, ” they explain.

For example, if the room is staged as an airy space with lots of windows, pick a color that amplifies the light. According to Maria Daou, an agent with Warburg Realty, a good choice is Benjamin Moore’s Gray Mist.

If it’s darker and more cozy feeling, Daou prefers a warm beige or taupe like Misty Air. The yellow tones in it help bounce light around the room without overwhelming.

White or off-white is usually the easiest option because it highlights the space as a multipurpose room, explains Lindsay Barton Barrett, a broker with Douglas Elliman in New York City, alienating no potential buyer or their plans for the space.

“It allows most people to see what they want to see for themselves in the space when they move in,” she says. Her picks are Benjamin Moore’s classic Decorators White in eggshell finish as well as Cotton Balls.

But if white and gray seems too unbearable to live with—even for a short while—Maranger and Vermast say you can experiment with bolder colors, depending on the room’s function. For example, if you have a formal living room as well as a more casual family room or den, you can stick to warm or gray neutrals for the everyday room and use a darker color in the living room.

“A rich and dark current on-trend color like Oxford Gray or Cushing Green will be alluring and inviting,” they say. If you do go darker, however, you may need to also plan on staging the living room with pops of color.

Two more caution points from the pair: One, while bedrooms and bathrooms feel more separate from the rest of the house, a living room needs to flow with nearby color schemes to work. That means if your living room is open concept, the paint must tie into the dining room color and complement any adjoining space. Secondly, there are some hues they recommend avoiding. Even in a less-trafficked space, pink, yellow, and orange can be divisive. Some potential buyers might love them, while others will hate them immediately. Remember: A living room color that appeals to the highest number of buyers, in the end, is always going to be your best bet.

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