The Best Interior Colors for Home Staging

How to sell your home and make a faster, more profitable sale

Interior colors for home staging.Photo by

Interior colors for home staging should be selected from the color palette that appeals to most buyers. Neutral colors!

What are neutral colors? In a nutshell, a neutral color is one that blends into the background. 

Neutral colors are remarkably versatile; they provide the perfect canvas for all other colors that you place against it, making them the ideal backdrop for displaying artwork.

Neutral colors are relaxing, calming, and often appear to have no color.

If you have a house for sale, changing wall paint colors is the fastest and most economical way to update your entire home. The trick is to select colors that coordinate and flow from room to room.

Paint colors that are too bold, dark or bright, will likely turn many buyers away because they will be thinking of all the repainting they will have to do. Unbelievably, not everyone will like your color choice!

Color ideas for room color schemes

Neutral colors for home interior.This dramatic living room has perfectly balanced colors using the 60-30-10 home decor rule. Photo by

Use the 60-30-10 rule 

  • 60% of a room is typically a dominant color - Usually wall colors.
  • 30% of a room is a secondary color - Typically furniture, drapes and carpet.
  • 10% of a room decor is devoted to accent colors - Accent colors are the pops of color that brighten and add excitement to a room; pillows, accessories, artwork, throws and flowers. 

The accent colors and/or patterns you select should be evenly distributed throughout a room. Don't place all your accent colors (or patterns) on one side of a room.

Complementory interior design picturesBlue and orange complementary color scheme

Apply complementary colors in unequal amounts using the 80-20 rule:

  • Complementary colors are two colors opposite each other on the color wheel.
  • The predominate shade should be 80%, the second color, 20%.
  • If complementary colors are used in equal proportions, they will compete with each other, creating a jarring, or vibrating effect that may make some people feel anxious or uncomfortable.

The complementary color scheme in this bathroom works well if you have a house for sale, because the background is light and neutral, whereas, the orange accessories are removable if buyers don't like them. If you reversed the colors; a bright orange tile might be a deal breaker for many buyers.

Neutral colors

Neutral color paletteNeutral color palette
Bedroom design interior picturesNeutral gray tones give this lovely monochromatic bedroom a calming feel.

Neutrals include black, white, all the grays in between, beige, white and earth tones.

Neutral colors have the widest appeal among home buyers, plus, a neutral color palette will  complement most people’s furniture.

Best of all, neutrals appeal to both sexes and work successfully in all room designs.

A neutral color palette doesn't have to be boring. Neutrals can be very restful, stylish and sophisticated, as in the bedroom on the right.

Examples of interior colors for home staging that most people love; beige, taupe, ivory, coffee tones, honey, butter, golden, wheat, blue-green, mossy green, brown, blue-gray and gray.

Gray is a sophisticated color and very trendy at this time. Gray complements all other colors and serves as an excellent backdrop for bright colors, allowing them to stand out.

Interior colors for home staging

Bedroom design interior picturesA monochromatic room decor with green accents gives this bedroom an elegant, lush feel.

Classic home decor design starts with one main color and one or two accent colors. Find one color you especially like; perhaps drawing color cues from a favorite fabric, area rug or piece of art. 

The easiest way to prepare your home for sale is by painting every wall in the same neutral color. Each room will look slightly different, because color changes under varying lighting conditions.

Or, create good color flow from room to room by using lighter and darker values of the same color.

A fan deck or paint color swatch from any home improvement store can help you select interior colors for home staging. Paint sample strips have a selection of the same color in several different values.

Value: Varying degrees of light and dark-- the "brightness" of a color.

Select a monochromatic color scheme. Doing so will help with the flow from room to room.

Stick to a color palette of no more than 3 to 5 different colors in your entire home.

Paint colors for home staging

I love Benjamin Moore paint because it's highly saturated, giving it great coverage. Often you can get by with just one coat of paint. Find Benjamin Moore paint at Home Depot.

Note that paint color palettes change every few years, so if you're looking for that great color you used 3 years ago, you won't find it! But don't panic, most paint stores now have the technology to match any color, you just need to bring in a color sample.

The effect of lighting on paint colors

Neutral bedroom design interior picturesThis monochromatic bedroom is infused with natural light. Natural light creates a feeling of spaciousness, important in a small room.

Color will change according to the type of lighting you have in a room. A color you're happy with in natural light will look completely different under incandescent lighting. 

What kind of natural light does each room have? Are you going to be using the room mostly at night under artificial lighting or during the day? Is the room facing north or south?

Consider the room that you'll be adding color to and view your paint samples under all lighting conditions and at different times of the day.

Many paint companies offer sample-size containers of paint you can take home to  try before committing to a larger can. 

  • Incandescent light will typically add a warm yellow cast to colors. 

  • Fluorescents create a cooling gray cast. 
  • Halogen bulbs produce a very white light and have little effect on color tones. 
  • Colors that look vibrant in natural light will often wash out under incandescent lighting. 
  • Be wary of using dark colors in rooms facing north--they'll appear darker. Warm paint colors will cheer up a room with a northern exposure.
  • Paint colors will seem lighter and brighter under a southern exposure. Tone them down by painting in cool neutral colors.

Think of each room in your house as a vertical space, mimicking nature; Floors can be a darker value, walls a medium value, and the ceiling in the lightest value. If you follow this basic rule, you should succeed.

Color flow from room to room

Open concept. Interior colors for home staging.White coffered ceiling, wood flooring, and blue accent colors seamlessly tie this open concept kitchen/living room together. Photo by

Interior colors for home staging should flow gracefully from one room to the next, especially if you can see adjoining rooms, as in open-concept living areas. You can achieve this by painting all your walls in the same paint colors, in coordinating colors, or in lighter and darker shades of the same hue.

To expand visually a space (or to hide ugly moldings, window trim, or a hideous radiator), paint the same light color on walls, baseboards, trim, and radiator. Doing so will cause unattractive features to recede, or seemingly disappear. 

Another way to develop flow is to have one recurring color from room to room. For instance, the color of a wall in the living room can be carried over into the dining room in the form of an area rug, upholstered dining chairs, a tablecloth or artwork.

Color undertones

How many times have you painted a wall and the color wasn’t what you expected? You thought you chose ivory, but it looked pale pink once up on the walls! How does that happen?

Paint swatches

Undertones aren't always apparent until paired with other colors or under certain lighting conditions. It's like a secret color hiding within the paint.

When you first look at a color you see what is called a masstone. This is the color we all recognize right away. Hidden within the masstone is an undertone, not easily seen.

A color is created by mixing two or more colors together. The color that is used in greater proportion will determine the undertone of the color. For instance, if more green was used than any other color in the mixing, then green will be the undertone. 

Hold a paint color sample against your furniture, kitchen countertops, cabinets, flooring and under different lighting conditions. You will be amazed at the undertones that pop out.

Years ago, I rushed home with four cans of what I thought was a luscious taupe exterior house paint. After I had almost completed one side of my house, a neighbor drove by and asked why I was painting my house purple. Puzzled, I stepped back to look and was shocked to that a lilac undertone had popped out! Back to the paint store...

Using color to create illusions

A monotone color scheme will make a small room appear larger. White is an expansive color.

Color is one of the keys to all successful decorating— it can work magic by visually expanding or shrinking space, it can appear to raise or lower a ceiling and even effect our dispositions. 

You can trick the eye by using certain colors in the right places. Color can make objects visually advance or recede, and knowing where and how to use them can help you highlight focal points or camouflage ugly features of your home.

For instance, a hideous brick fireplace will, most likely, be an unwelcome focal point in your living room. Maybe you can't afford to tear it down-- you just wish it would disappear! You can visually make that fireplace recede and diminish in size and importance if you paint it the same color as the walls beside it.

Proper color combinations can deceive the eye into thinking that a small room is larger than it really is, or take an awkward space and make it less noticeable: 

  • Pale colors reflect light, and when infused with natural light, seem to visually expand a small room by creating the impression of pushing back the walls.
  • Dark colors absorb and deflect light and give the impression of the walls closing in on you.

  • Cool colors appear to retreat, while warm colors seem to advance. To make a long, narrow room look shorter, paint the long walls a light color and end walls a darker, warm shade of the same color. Because dark colors advance, this creates a "squaring" effect.
  • Interior colors for home staging should have a combination of cool and warm colors in the design palette, but one or the other should dominate.  

How to sell your house.A monotone room design can visually expand a small space.
  • Paint a too high ceiling in a dark color, bringing that color down a foot or so onto the wall to make the ceiling seem lower and cozier.

  • Visually lift a low ceiling by painting it white or a light pastel hue.
  • Paint colors that appear to expand small spaces are whites, pale grays, blues, lavenders, and greens.
  • To make a small room feel larger, paint walls the same color as the drapes.
  • For oddly placed doors, windows, nooks, or an awkward sloping ceiling, paint all in the same color as the walls to unite the broken areas.
  • For over-sized rooms, use a combination of warm and darker colors. The dark colors will make the room seem cozier and more intimate. 

What's the difference between monotone and monochromatic color schemes?

Both schemes use only one color and rely heavily on the use of textural elements, accessories and plants to prevent boredom. Both room designs create a sophisticated and restful space that will make a small room appear larger than it actually is.

monochromatic color scheme employs many different tones, shades, and tints of one color. 

monotone color scheme uses one color also, but with very little variation in value, saturation, and brightness. Done correctly, the monotone color scheme can be very calm and expansive. 

  • Paint dark rooms, like basements and hallways, in light colors, since they are usually too dark.

  • Try a coordinating color on an accent wall to add excitement to a room or to draw attention to a lovely window, fireplace or other architectural detail.   
  • If you have a lot of bumps and dings in your ceilings and walls, use a flat paint. Because flat paint doesn’t reflect light, imperfections on walls and ceilings are less noticeable. Unfortunately, flat paint is not very scrubbable.

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