How to choose a paint color

Maggie Hase

What's the best ROI (return on investment) when selling your home? Often times, it is paint and you will hear us preach that over and over again.  Think about the daily wear and tare just in our normal day to day "living in our homes".  If you haven't painted in the last two years, we recommend a fresh coat.  You will be amazed at how much it freshens things up, and makes your home sell faster as a "move-in-ready" option.

Now that you've decided to paint (smart choice!), how do you choose a color?  Your trusted real estate advisor has probably already given you the exact name they want you to paint to get you the most bang for your buck, but here's some things that we as professionals take into consideration and you should too!

Trends are trends for a reason, right?  The paint color we suggest might not be your exact choice, but you won't be living there to look at the walls when we quickly sell your home.  So trust us on this one. And speaking of trust....are dark accent walls coming back as a trend, yes. Should you paint a dark accent wall? Most likely not but definitely consult with your REALTOR and get their input for advise on your home layout.  Painting a dark accent wall could infact make the room look smaller than it is.

Have you ever painted a tan color and then look at it and think it looks purple-ish? Or you've picked a gray color and it looks blue?  Depending on the undertones of the color it can pick up different hues in different light. 

Check out these geeky, behind-the-paint science things below to consider to get the best outcome and true to color results!

What direction does your room face?  If your room is North-facing, it will have more gray light with slight blue cast. This means any gray paint you select will look more blue.

Simultaneous contrast – the affect of colors against one another. A dark brown against a large expanse of blue will appear very dark brown and a small patch of light color against a very dark color with look much lighter. What does that mean when it comes to a gray paint color that looks blue? In contrast with your your brown wood, it might look even more blue.


Metameric Shift and LRV (Light Reflectance Value) – meaning the shift or appearance of a color in one light and another color in another light. It’s important to test your color in both the daylight and evening. It will receive and artificial light planned for the room – both affect how the paint will look on your walls. If you look at the back of your paint swatch, find the LRV number. LRV ranges from 0-100 and expresses the percentage of light reflected from a surface. The number tells you how light or dark your paint color will look once applied to your walls. The higher the number, the more the color will lighten when exposed to light (meaning your gray color can wash out if it is flooded by illumination.)


Understanding mass tone vs. undertones and how all the external factors affect how paint appears on your wall – Mass tones are what you see first when looking at color. The closer the undertone is to the mass tone, the purer the color. Gray paint colors usually have blue, green, or purple undertones (in contrast, beige might have yellow/green, red/pink understones). Study the undertones in addition to the other variables such as the light your room receives and if the rest of your furnishings or decor are mainly warm or cool tones. All of these factors working together will affect how your paint color will look on your walls or if it will clash.

What colors do we suggest?  We love Sherwin Williams Shoji White SW 7042. It's a soft and creamy color that has an LRV of 74, meaning it will lighten in color to the eye when exposed to natural light. 

Another "greige" color we love to suggest is Sherwin Williams Alpaca SW 7022 because it compliments a variety of different accent colors regardless if they are light or dark.

Lastly we love a clean, crisp white and Alabaster is that plus some! "With subtle beige undertones, Alabaster (Sherwin Williams 7008) is the perfect mix of warm and cool for a result that makes this hue a go-to favorite for just about anywhere. Whether it’s trim or the entire wall, this inviting shade adds a sense of ease." according to Sherwin Williams.

So don't be afraid to confidently choose a fresh new paint color! We promise it's often the best return on investment and helps get your home sold fast! 

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