The Evils of Real Estate Beige and Builder White

By
Home Stager

For many years now, the general concensus of color when selling a house was that one should employ the 'neutral' shades known as Real Estate Beige and Builder white.  However, it is obvious (to me, at least) that such a sweeping generalization causes more harm that good.

Should one spend even the smallest amount of time researching color and paint selection, one would find that many different factors can alter a paint color once it is applied in a space such as natural light, artificial light and material choices such as carpet and trim.  Choosing the wrong color can have adverse affects on the feel of a home and that is not what you wnat when trying to appeal to today's savvy buyers.

Below are photos of a house that I recently had the priviledge of working on with some very cooperative and open minded sellers who allowed me carte blanche to choose new paint colors for the property.  In this particular case, I was working with both the real estate beige and builders white factors.  Using the before and after photos, I would like to explain why these choices did not work and why the new colors do.

Real Estate Beige:

 This is the classic example of the right beige in the wrong room.  Though this is a very nice color, it does not compliment the architectural features of the room - the crown moldings and the fireplace.  It also has cold undertones, working against the warm tones in the brick and making it stick out in an unflattering way.

In comparison to the beige carpet, this color can actually look slightly pink in a certain light, which is the main problem with beige in general - it is an orange based color and if incorrectly chosen, the red tones will emerge and display a more rosey hue.

Tip:  I have a sneaking suspicion that this color - as most are - was chosen in the store and not in the room, which is the biggest mistake that most people make.  The lighting in the store is vastly different than the lighting in your home. Make sure to test a color in the room where it will be used before committing to it.

 

By pulling a warmer shade from the brick on the fireplace, it compliments the fireplace and trim rather than working against it. 

Now the brick is an asset rather than a flaw and the room feels and appears much warmer.  It also brings much more attention to the mantle that seemed to disappear in the other first shot.

Tip: Even when working with the colors that already exist in a room, as with this fireplace, you can create a neutral backdrop that produces that 'move in condition' most buyers are looking for.  This color will work with any color scheme a buyer will bring with them via sofa fabrics and artwork.

Builder White:

This is a perfect example of why white does not work.  It is cold and does not add anything to the cabinetry, crown moldings or tile backsplash.  The elements of this room seem a bit disjointed and do not work so well together. The kitchen is the heart of the home and no one wants a cold hearted house.

Tip: When adding a color to a house you are preparing to sell, the kitchen is the perfect place.  In general, people do not choose upholstered pieces for this room, making what they bring with them neutral in nature.  Though kitchen towels may be taste specific, they are an inexpensive change for a buyer to make.

 

 By adding even the smallest amount of color in this room - over the window and in the appliance nooks - we added a lot of warmth and character to the space. Even though we did nothing to the cabinets other than updating the hardware, they look fresher and more contemporary and the molding pops out in a good way.

Tip: The color for this room was actually chosen to compliment and draw attention to the tile backsplash, which now fits perfectly into the room.  By choosing the right color, you can make elements that work against each other work together.

 

Color is one of the key elements that need to be addressed when preparing a house for the real estate market.  It is very important that you have not only the right shade, but the proper balance where this is concerned.  Too much or too little color can detract from the marketable features of your listings. When hiring a stager, this is one of the things that they should focus on when consulting on your property.

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If you have concerns about the element of color in your listings in the Northwest Indiana area, contact Kimberly Wester at 219-241-7252 or kim@detailsstagingandredesign.com.

Visit www.detailsstagingandredesign.com for examples of Kimberly's work.

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Comments 18 New Comment

Rainmaker
207,916
Terrylynn Fisher
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CEP Realtor, Etc.
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com
Right on, and when they find out there are many,,,many... shades of white, they really get crazy.  People should leave the color choices to their stagers and painters (in some cases). 
February 19, 2008 12:14 AM
Rainer
73,837
Kimberly Wester

Janis - Good for you for knowing your limitations.  I have great respect for people who know when someone else is the best person for the job and align themselves with that person to better serve their clients.  It's better to pass that to another than to ask your clients to repaint.  I'm glad you finally found your perfect shade!

Cindy - I know!  I can't tell you how many clients have screwed up their faces at a color until it was actually on the wall.  Quite a few of those now call whenever they need a color chosen for their new home.

Terrylynn - Your comment about white makes me laugh, because I've heard many MEN say - 'it's white, when we repair the crack, we will just touch it up with more white' - and I start with 'Do you have more of THIS white?' They always look so confused. ;)

February 19, 2008 07:42 AM
Rainer
138,782
Kym Hough
Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA
www.Staged-to-Sell
Love this post Kimberly. I am a huge fan of color and its always my biggest challenge getting the homeowners to be open to colors other than the 24 shades of white and neutral that they want :)  Even when I show before and afters of color changes and they love them, they still resist. Thanks for the tips - I will use them! Kym
February 24, 2008 10:56 PM
Rainmaker
207,916
Terrylynn Fisher
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CEP Realtor, Etc.
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com
I already commented on this one but it keeps popping up and catching my attention.  Attention to the details, like color and how it goes with what you have in the room are crucial to the overall look.  You nailed it Kimberly.
February 25, 2008 12:49 AM
Rainer
73,837
Kimberly Wester

Kym - I have been lucky that color has not been as challenging as expected.  I am a firm believer in the effect of color on a house and that it has to be right so that all the other changes being made are more effective.  It all works together, but sometimes it is hard to get them to see that.

Terrylynn - Thanks for commenting again! Did you know I'm obsessed with details?  :)

February 25, 2008 07:45 AM
Rainer
73,837

Kimberly Wester

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Additional Information

Kimberly Wester's experiences, views and tutorials on staging in the real estate industry, with a focus on educating the RE industry on the benefits of home staging and bringing the staging community together under a united message.
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