The 2023 megahit movie Barbie used color to create a powerful world for women, but one thing it didn’t do was encourage home sellers to paint their homes bright pink. Some colors—whether we like it or not—are polarizing, in terms of preference, mood, proportion, and saturation. One look at Benjamin Moore’s most popular pinks and you can easily see why Proposal might work better for an exterior than Hot Lips. And just to be on the safe side, the site recommends that you pair soft pink with a bolder neutral—like Tarrytown Green, a no-nonsense army green.
Human reactions to colors are influenced by numerous factors, including age, symbolic meaning (pink is typically for girls; blue for boys), and cultural background (black is for mourning). Because color can evoke strong emotional responses and affect human moods and behavior, color psychology is widely used in marketing, design, and product development.
Every year in November, members of The Color Marketing Group meet for an international summit to announce the color trends they believe will be in vogue for the next two years or so. Color experts worldwide participate in workshops and meetings throughout the year to come up with 16 color “directions” for consumer products, including automobiles, clothing, paint manufacturers, home décor, and much more. Perhaps a better-known color institute is Pantone, which makes digital and paper color decks for use in graphic design and manufacturing across numerous industries.
How are color palettes chosen by these organizations? The colors are based upon trends reflected by the news, sociological and technological shifts, the environment, the economy, and other global factors. Among the most important current influences are consumers going to outer space which has inspired our imaginations and opened new possibilities. At the same time, relentless political turmoil is causing widespread anxiety, which we desperately want to escape when we’re at home.
The color specialists and the industries that follow them select a color of the year, and some paint companies offer a color of the month. As reported by Martha Stewart, the colors of 2024 include Behr’s choice, Cracked Pepper, a dark gray for sophisticated cocooning; Sherwin Williams’ pick Upward, a light, optimistic blue; Ironside, a deep moody olive green selected by Dutch Boy; and Benjamin Moore’s choice Blue Nova, a mid-tone purplish-blue. One forecaster, Creativebloq.com, has already selected its color of the year for 2025—a deep purplish blue called Future Dusk.
More research on color’s impact could be useful, such as knowing how colors chosen for the home will affect residents, visitors, and future homebuyers. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if homebuyers avoid buying a home because of color? Will they pay more for a home with colors they like? That depends. There’s little empirical or scientific evidence when it comes to consumer behavior and real estate.
One study quoted in Architectural Digest says that mid-tone and dark gray on the walls can potentially add between $1,750 and more than $2,500 to the selling price of a home. Why? Gray may make homebuyers feel safe and secure, and its calming effect may be welcome after a hectic day. Yet, gray floors can cause homebuyers to offer as much as $3,365 less for a home. What’s the reasoning here? Are gray floors less attractive than gray walls? White kitchens look clean and fresh in magazines and TV shows, but a white kitchen in reality can lower a home’s value by approximately $600 because of the extra effort to keep it pristine. Clearly, we have more to learn about color regarding homebuyers and their wants and needs.
According to a study reported by ScienceDaily.com, colors can have both positive and negative associations, and many times can stimulate similar emotions in people across the world. Most participants in the study associated red with love and also with anger, while brown triggered the fewest emotions. Black is considered to be elegant, rich, and powerful, like a tuxedo or stretch limousine, but it’s also the color of mourning to many. The color of mourning in China is white, while in many areas white connotes purity, which is why it’s used for rites of passage such as weddings and confirmations.
For a home seller, color is crucial to first impressions, especially with curb appeal. You want your home to invite homebuyers inside, not repulse them with unattractive, unusual, or outmoded tastes. Color should strongly indicate to homebuyers that your home is well-maintained and up-to-date. Home sellers shouldn’t make the mistake of painting the exterior of a home in colors that don’t have broad appeal—or paint them in old colors that may date the home. Neutrals like gray, beige, and white are popular choices, but that makes trim and accent colors more important to highlight the home’s roots, personality, and timeliness. And that’s what you want your home to have—an appealing modern personality.
So how should home sellers choose the right colors for their homes? One way is to start with the main color of the home’s exterior brick or siding and then apply some color principles to further choices. Here are some suggestions that may help:
· Colors are either warm or cool. Based on a unit of temperature measurement known as kelvin, colors lean either yellow or blue at their core. Even yellows or blues can be warm or cool, so the way to compare them is to have a typical color wheel handy. Try to match the brick/siding to color swatches from your local paint store and you’ll quickly see that baby blue paint will do nothing for your orange brick façade. Cream, a soft buttery white, works well as a trim color, and sage green would work well as an accent for doors and shutters.
· Saturation is soft or bold. Any color can be manipulated to its richest depth or to its faintest whisper, depending on the degree of saturation or pigment. The more opposite on the color wheel that two given colors are, the bolder they will be together. The closer they are to each other, the more calming their effect will be.
· Three colors rule. The 60-30-10 percent rule offers a guideline that you can use to balance colors in appealing proportions, which can include the concept of saturation. Imagine a white house (60%) with a black roof and shutters (30%). That is a standout pair of colors for any neighborhood. Throw in a bright red front door (10%), and the house will project confidence, wealth, and optimism. Tone things down with a brown door instead, and the home becomes instantly warmer and friendlier.