Painting your home gray won’t always boost your home’s value. It’s not a silver bullet (no pun intended). There, I said it.
A new study by Zillow has gone viral, picked up by a flurry of interior design websites including the venerable Architectural Digest, news outlets like CBS News, and even channels not normally devoted to home improvement, such as Entrepreneur Magazine. In Zillow’s report, which surveyed over 4,700 recent and prospective home buyers across the country, dark gray interiors correlated with higher offer prices, as compared to white, in every room of the homes sampled: kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms.
For example, homes with a deep graphite gray kitchen were estimated to sell for $2,512 more than similar homes, while a mid-tone pewter gray kitchen was expected to command $2,553 more. Dark gray living rooms and bedrooms likewise were forecasted to bring at least $1,755 more.`
Why is this? Zillow’s home trends expert Amanda Pendleton says that “buyers rely on color as a powerful visual signal that a home is modern and up-to-date, or tired and needs maintenance.” This, I suspect, is the key to why the homes sampled in this study were expected to sell for more when they incorporated dark gray in their interiors. It’s not necessarily that dark gray is the “best” color for a home’s interior, or that it’s a panacea when a home needs to sell quickly. Rather, homes painted with gray were probably updated within the past decade (or two), and most likely with more extensive modernizations such as updated kitchens and baths, and that impresses buyers.
Interior designers across the country are no doubt bracing themselves for the onrush of requests for dark gray in their clients’ homes. Same with realtors, whose clients are probably wanting recommendations for reliable painters so they can quickly boost their home’s value before listing. While we celebrate anyone’s desire to update their home, it takes more than just painting your home gray to make it stand out in the marketplace.
Painting your home gray is no substitute for thoughtfully curating your home’s contents or selecting paint colors that work well in your particular home, whether you intend to sell it or enjoy it yourself.
Designers would be the first to embrace rich, deep colors in their designs, but they would do so intentionally, as part of a curated space where every element contributes to the whole. It’s this designer touch, or the finishing of your home with a tasteful eye, that translates into an increased home value and desirability.
Designer Gina Roth of Abode Interior Design loves the idea of incorporating bold, moody colors but emphasizes that charcoal gray is not the solution for all homes. “Homeowners should look closely at their existing finishes and then choose a palette that flatters their home,” says Roth. When the space is right, Roth likes using deep blues and greens for a beautiful contrast and an updated look in a home.
Abby Tolin of Bel Atelier Design uses Farrow and Ball’s “Moles Breath” as her favorite go-to mid-range gray. “‘Moles Breath’ and similar warm grays like Sherwin Williams’ ‘Gauntlet Gray‘ work well because they don’t feel as garish as some of the colder deep grays out there,” says Tolin.
But remember, just having a selection of good, warm grays isn’t enough to make your home look gorgeous! It takes all the design elements, including the right scale of your rugs and furnishings in the space, judicious use of color, and curated accessories. If you really want to sell your home for top dollar, call on an interior designer or even a color consultant, even if it’s only for an hour, to get an informed opinion of what would work well in your own home.
Won’t painting your home gray make it look dark and depressing?
It can, if you don’t include enough richness in terms of texture, color, and contrast. You can’t just paint the walls gray and call it a day. The gray on your walls should be echoed elsewhere in the room, but also – and this is key – you need some warmth in the space to keep it from feeling cold and dreary. Wood tones in particular pair well with charcoal gray, as does a warm white or ivory. We also really like warm grays, even those that are almost taupe or mushroom, to help a space envelope you with a warm, welcoming vibe.
When it comes time for you to update your home, whether it’s for yourself or to put it on the market, there’s plenty of great design advice out there. Do some research, and reach out to the professionals. And go for gray – if and only if it’s the right choice for your own particular home! We would never advise not painting your home gray, just pick your paint color carefully, and don’t forget to look at the rest of your home with a critical eye, not just its walls!