Color plays a big role in all aspects of our lives. It influences what we choose to wear, to drive, to live in, to eat. It’s a part of our lexicon…When we’re sad, we’re “blue.” When we’re mad, we’re “seeing red.” When we’re happy, we’re “in the pink.” Money is “green,” except when we’re doing particularly well, and then we’re “in the black.” Unless we’re struggling, and then we’re “in the red.” And so on. With this in mind, what colors should your walls, ceilings, flooring, and furniture be in order for your house to look appealing to homebuyers?

There are tons of paper (usually white) onto which folks have printed research about the psychology of color. Major corporations hire color consultants to help determine what colors their company logos should be. Academic studies compare color preferences between different countries and cultures in order to help businesses be successful. In a 2015 Smithsonian Magazine article, Stanford Professor Emeritus Steve Palmer explained that people tend to like or dislike certain colors, not because of some sort of biological wiring but, instead, because of their own personal experiences. For example, the article says, some Americans associate the color red with violence, anger or blood. But I have a friend who’s an artist who deliberately paints red into her work because, as she puts it bluntly, “red sells.”

Home stagers know the importance of color in helping ready a house for sale to appeal to as many home buyers as possible. Staged homes that appear bigger, brighter, cleaner and that appear to have a lot of storage space are the houses buyers gravitate toward. The best way to achieve this look is to make the primary colors in a home—or at least 60 percent of the color of furniture, walls, and ceilings, and flooring—a neutral palette, with accents of color in items like pillows, vases and other decor.

So, what’s “neutral?” Like so much else, even the concept of “neutral” can be part of trends. For the past half-dozen years or so, gray tones became the go-to neutral palette for home staging and even for live-in-place decorating. But the tide is changing: reports that grays are on the way “out” and creamy, beige-y tones are back.

The best rule of thumb for choosing paint colors to prepare your house for sale? Whether it’s gray or cream tones, go light. Choose the best one of these two color families that complements the furniture and accessories you already have. Walk into a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams store, or try the paint department at one of the big home improvement stores (Lowe’s for example), and ask the salesperson to make recommendations. They see what sells day-to-day and can help you choose from among the literally hundreds of colors available. Be sure to bring cell phone photos of your living spaces so these experts can look at your rooms and help you choose the best colors.

Of course, I’m going to remind you that an Accredited Home Staging Professional (ASP) is your number-one expert in helping you choose colors as part of a comprehensive staging plan to get your home sold quickly and for the most money possible. I’m here to help!