The Best Paint Colors for Every Room in Your Home (Backed by Science)
There are two ways for home sellers to maximize their profits: either reduce the costs associated with home selling or increase the value of your home through improvements.
Whether you’re putting your home on the market and want to make it as appealing as possible or you just want to make your living space more attractive, a new coat of paint is one of the easiest, most cost-effective home improvements.
But picking out a new color for your kitchen shouldn’t just be a matter of going with your gut. There are proven science-based recommendations that can make your home more attractive and, even more importantly, significantly improve its value.
The flip side of that is that there are colors that are scientifically proven to make your home less attractive — and to lessen its value.
Let’s go over some of the colors with the best and worst results and look at just how much difference the right paint color can make.
Color Matters More Than You Might Realize
Scientists have known for decades that colors can have a pronounced psychological effect on people, whether they know it or not. For example, red makes your heart beat faster, and banks found that lines moved faster when they painted their lobbies red.
On the other hand, pink is known to have a calming effect — to the point that one college football coach painted the visiting locker room in various shades of pink and strongly believed it had a dampening effect on the other team’s performance.
An analysis by Zillow looked at more than 32,000 photos from homes that sold in the U.S. to see how color affected average sale prices, compared to identical homes with plain white walls.
Some of their findings may surprise you.
The Right Colors for Every Room of Your Home
Let’s start with the colors that are proven to increase the value of your home.
Using gray-blue paint in your kitchen translates to a sale price of $1,809 higher, on average, than comparable kitchens painted white.
Why? Gray-blue is a “cool” color (as opposed to a “warm” color such as red). Scientists have shown that cool colors make people perceive spaces as feeling cooler than they actually are — which can be a great advantage for kitchens, which tend to get quite hot.
Blue is also the most popular color and evokes feelings of trustworthiness, which can be an attractive quality for a family-oriented room.
Light-blue paint in the bathroom is associated with a $5,440 increase in average sale price compared to homes with bathrooms with white walls.
Again, blue is associated with trustworthiness, and a bathroom is a very private space, where comfort and cleanliness are important.
A matte soft cerulean paint in the bedroom brings in $1,856 more, on average, than white walls.
Cerulean is a deep blue, and trustworthiness is obviously important for a bedroom space. The soft matte aspect makes sense, too — research has shown that bright, less saturated colors are relaxing, while something more saturated such as a glossy cerulean would be energizing.
The Living Room
In the living room, a light beige, or gray-brown paint is good for $2,000 more, on average, than a neutral wall.
Lighter colors make a wall seem like it’s slightly farther away, while dark colors make it seem closer. A coat of light beige paint can make a living room seem more spacious, without the harshness of a pure white.
The Dining Room
In the dining room, a gray-blue paint translates to $1,926 in added value compared to a dining room with walls painted white.
Warm colors stimulate our appetite, while cool colors dampen it. In a health-obsessed era, the last thing most people want is a dining room that will make you eat more.
The Home’s Exterior
A grayish-beige, or “greige,” exterior is associated with $3,496 more in average value.
We know that less-saturated colors are calming, and that’s exactly how you want people to feel when they look at a prospective home for the first time.
The Front Door
A navy blue front door brings in $1,514 more in average value. This makes perfect sense, considering that blue is almost universally liked and inspires trustworthiness.
The Wrong Colors for Your Home
Just as some colors are proven to add value to your home, there are other colors that will make your home objectively less appealing to the average buyer. Here are some colors that you should try to avoid.
Yellow kitchens translated to a home selling for an average of $820 less than homes with similar, white-walled kitchens.
This isn’t surprising; yellow is the most disliked color in general. Warm colors are also arousing and tend to stimulate the appetite (which health-conscious people may not appreciate), so yellow is a poor choice for a room that’s supposed to be calming and moderate.
A white bathroom brings in $4,035 less, on average, than other colors.
Many people think of white as a neutral color, but it’s actually quite harsh to look at. And on a practical level, it shows stains and wear very easily, so it starts looking like it needs a deep clean much faster than any other color.
Bedrooms painted pink brought in $208 less, on average, than other bedrooms. Although this isn’t a significant price gap, we can infer that a lot of people — especially men, considering the color is considered to be strongly feminine — aren't thrilled about the prospect of sleeping in a pink bedroom, even though the color is calming.
The Dining Room
Red dining rooms were associated with $2,031 less in average sale price compared to other colors.
Since red makes your heart beat faster and is associated with danger, it makes sense that people wouldn’t want to see that color in a room that’s supposed to be family-oriented and welcoming.
The Living Room
Somewhat surprisingly, blue paint in a living room translates to an $820 reduction in average value.
Although blue is associated with trustworthiness, darker colors also make walls look closer than they are. That means that blue living rooms are perceived to be smaller than they actually are, which isn’t a desirable quality for a room that’s often considered the centerpiece of a home.
Painting can be time-consuming and expensive — the average paint job in 2020 costs $1,778 — but it can make a huge impact on the bottom line of your home sale or the viability of your rental. Adding up the added value of the right colors and the subtracted values from using the wrong colors, you could be potentially looking at a spread of almost $30,000.
So, definitely put down a fresh coat of paint before you put your home on the market — but choose your colors carefully.
Ben Mizes is the Co-Founder and CEO at Clever Real Estate, the nation's leading real estate education platform for home buyers, sellers, and investors.