6 Worst Colors You Should Never Paint Your Home (and What to Pick Instead)
The average exterior paint job costs about $2,672, while interior paint costs $1,748, making a fresh coat of paint a fairly inexpensive way to refresh the look of your home. 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.
Designers might love bold shades, such as deep turquoise, chinoiserie red, and dark plum, but many homebuyers are a bit more conservative with their color preferences. When Zillow analyzed photos of more than 32,000 recently sold homes, it found those with rooms painted in certain colors tended to command higher selling prices than those with plain white walls. Other shades seemed to drag down a home’s selling price.
So what colors did buyers love? Various shades of blue, from periwinkle to navy, were popular in most — but not all — rooms in a house.
“Color can be a powerful tool for attracting buyers to a home, especially in listing photos and videos,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist. “Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space.”
Buyers might love blue, but they had a much cooler reaction to other colors. Before you grab the paintbrush, check out this list of the worst colors to paint your home and what to choose instead.
Don’t: Paint your home’s exterior brown
- What it will cost you: $1,970
Brown is boring, at least when it comes to your home’s exterior. Homes with a medium brown, taupe, or tan stucco paint job sold for $1,970 less than homes with a white exterior, Zillow found.
Next: The best color for your home’s exterior
Do: Paint your home’s exterior greige
- Color bonus: $1,526
Greige — a combination of gray and beige — was the big winner for exterior color in Zillow’s study. These houses sold for $1,526 more than plain white ones and $3,496 more than their drab brown counterparts.
To boost your home’s selling price even more, choose a navy blue, dark gray, charcoal paint for your front door. Houses with this color sold for $1,514 more than those with white doors.
Next: This sunny color is a no-go for kitchens.
Don’t: Paint your kitchen yellow
- What it will cost you: $820
What a difference a year makes. In 2016, buyers loved soft yellow kitchens. Now, they’re saying “no thanks.” Homes with straw- or marigold-colored kitchens sold for $820 less than other homes.
Yellow can be a tricky color to get right when it comes to your home’s interior. While a “buttery” yellow can be cheerful, noted House Beautiful, go too bright and it can be overpowering (not to mention anxiety-inducing).
Next: The best color to paint your kitchen
Do: Paint your kitchen blue
- Color bonus: $1,809
Light blue and soft gray-blue were the winning colors in the kitchen, adding $1,809 to a home’s final selling price, according to Zillow. The preference for blue in one of the most-used rooms in a home is really no surprise. It’s the most popular color in the world, perhaps because it has a calming effect.
Next: Why you shouldn’t paint your bathroom white
Don’t: Paint your bathroom white
- What it will cost you: $4,035
A neutral off-white or eggshell might seem like the perfect choice for a bathroom, but buyers disagree. A coat of this generic paint on the walls could lower your home’s selling price by more than $4,000, according to Zillow.
Some people might choose off-white for a bathroom because they think it can make a small room look bigger. But that’s a mistake, noted designer Emily Henderson. White walls can make a room look “dead” and “flat,” especially if the space is lacking in natural light.
Next: Choose powder blue for your powder room.
Do: Paint your bathroom powder blue
- Color bonus: $5,440
Homes with light powder blue or periwinkle bathrooms sold for $5,400 more than their plain white counterparts. That’s a pretty impressive return on a cheap upgrade that you can complete in an afternoon.
Next: Pink bedrooms turn off buyers.
Don’t: Paint your bedroom pink
- What it will cost you: $208
The light pink or antique rose shade often found in kids’ bedrooms don’t resonate with buyers. Homes with bedrooms painted these colors sold for $208 less than those with white walls. That might surprise sellers because various shades of pink — often dubbed “millennial pink” — have been having a moment lately. It could be that people are getting sick of the trendy color.
Next: Choose this color for your bedroom instead.
Do: Paint your bedroom blue
- Color bonus: $1,856
The preference for blue rooms continues into the bedroom. Rooms painted light cerulean to cadet blue were a favorite with buyers, according to Zillow. Homes featuring these shades of blue sold for $1,856 more than those with white walls.
Next: The next color belongs on your planters, not your dining room walls.
Don’t: Paint your dining room terracotta
- What it will cost you: $2,031
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 dining rooms painted the same shade as an inexpensive flower pot sold for $2,031 less than those with white walls. Buyers also didn’t like brick red and copper red dining rooms.
The negative reaction to these colors isn’t too surprising. Orange is one of the least-liked colors in the world, while red is associated with aggression.
Next: Surround yourself with slate blue in the dining room.
Do: Paint your dining room blue
- Color bonus: $1,926
Buyers love blue dining rooms, especially those painted slate blue or a pale gray-blue. Navy walls were also popular, especially when contrasted with white shiplap. Homeowners who chose these colors got nearly $2,000 more when their house sold than those who opted for white dining room walls.
Next: The one room where buyers don’t like blue.
Don’t: Paint your living room gray-blue
- What it will cost you: $820
Blue ruled in 2017, according to Zillow, but there was one room where it wasn’t a hit for some reason. Buyers were lukewarm on living rooms decorated with light blue, periwinkle, pastel gray, or pale silver walls.
Next: Choose beige for your living room.
Do: Paint your living room beige
- Color bonus: $1,809
Beige might not be an exciting color, but buyers liked to see it in a home’s living room. Houses with living rooms painted light beige, pale taupe, or oatmeal sold for $1,809 more than those with white walls.