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The Best Interior Paint Colors for Selling a House

July 28, 2021

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Exquisite Italian Villa in Montecito’s Ennisbrook for sale

Is it worth considering the best interior paint colors for selling a house? Every home seller has heard about the importance of sprucing up their property before listing a home, as the owners of my Exquisite Italian Villa in Montecito’s Ennisbrook (pictured above) did. To make a house more attractive to buyers, sellers are encouraged to create curb appeal, declutter, repair and stage their home. Now, a new analysis from Zillow, a leading real estate listing website, suggests specific interior paint colors should be added to that list. The right hue in the right room might make a big difference in a home's final selling price.

READ: How to Add Value to Your Home

"Our study found homebuyers may be particularly sensitive to paint color, despite paint being a relatively easy and inexpensive change, because they're navigating a complex environment with a lot of uncertainty," says Kate Rogers, a senior behavioral scientist at Zillow.

The Best Interior Paint Colors

Overall, neutral tones tend to have a more positive effect on both purchase intent and prices. But Zillow dug into the topic a little deeper by surveying about 1,300 recent or prospective homebuyers, asking them what they'd be willing to pay for homes based on specific interior paint colors. The results show that repainting the rooms in a home can attract buyers and may even increase the perceived value of the home. Here are the results of the study:


Best Choice: Light Blue
Light blue was by far the most popular color for a bathroom. Survey participants who viewed a light blue bathroom claimed they’d be willing to pay more. Up to $5,000 more.
Good Alternatives: Gray, Dark Gray, Light Yellow, Off-White
Though not as popular as light blue, neutral and delicate colors were also favored by buyers for bathrooms. Besides resulting in a higher price, the use of these hues caused a slight increase in the amount of property tours.
Best Avoided: Bright Yellow, Bright Green, Bright Red, Pink
The survey revealed that a light-yellow paint may, on average, work in a seller’s favor when it comes to the bathroom. But bright yellow caused a decrease in the likelihood of a home receiving an offer. Buyers tend to veer away from vibrant colors in the bathroom, so it’s best to go with a softer shade.

READ: Exterior Color Schemes That Work for Santa Barbara Homes

The kitchen of a home for sale inSummerland that showcases the best intoerior paint color for kitchens to attract buyers

© 2021 Rafael Bautista


Best Choice: White
The example above from my Magical Ocean View Contemporary Home in Summerland listing shows how attractive a simple white kitchen can be. In fact, it’s one of the best interior paint colors for selling a house. According to the study, on average, a kitchen painted a neutral light color like white greatly increases interest in touring a property. It also ups the likelihood of a potential buyer purchasing the home.
Good Alternatives: Light Yellow, Off-White, Dark Gray, Gray, Dark Red, Dark Green
Many colors fell in the middle range for the kitchen, resulting in a slight increase in buyer interest. However, neutral hues generally rose toward the top.
Best Avoided: Bright Green, Pink, Bright Yellow, Bright Red
Most of those surveyed had a negative reaction when it came to bright colors in the kitchen. In fact, bright red could decrease the price a buyer would be willing to offer by nearly $1,500. And furthermore, a kitchen painted bright yellow was least likely to inspire a buyer to enter escrow.

READ: Open, Closed and Beyond: A Real Estate Pro’s Guide to Kitchen Design

This living room features a light buttery yellow as a neutral base color.

Living room

Best Choice: Gray
When presented to participants, a gray living room wall resulted in more property tours and offers than other colors. Of course, neutral colors did well, too.
Good Alternatives: Light Yellow, Light Green, White, Dark Gray
Check out the light yellow living room in the Charming Oceanfront Cottage Near Montecito and you’ll see how this color works, too. As in other rooms, neutral and lighter tones tend to do well in a living room. Light green brought an average offer-price increase of several hundreds, while white and gray rounded out the top three colors for inspiring surveyed buyers to tour a home.
Best Avoided: Pink, Bright Green, Bright Yellow
On average, bright green and bright yellow living rooms decreased interest among surveyed buyers. Both colors, on average, had a negative effect on prospective offer prices as well.

READ: Preparing Your Santa Barbara Home For Sale


Best Choice: Dark Blue
If you are going to go bold, the bedroom is the ideal room for doing so. Most of those surveyed saw potential in dark blue. So much so that the color increased the average potential price they were willing to offer.
Good Alternatives: Light Blue, White, Bright Blue, Dark Gray
You won’t be singing the blues if you go with that color in a bedroom. Blue walls were greatly appreciated among those surveyed. Other good options are dark and light neutrals to help create the vibe of a relaxing at-home getaway.
Best Avoided: Bright Yellow, Bright Green, Pink
It may come as no surprise that, once again, these boisterous colors landed at the bottom of the list. In a separate survey of potential buyers and sellers, both groups claimed they’d be less likely to paint a room any of those colors, regardless of the room’s purpose.

READ: The Importance of Staging a Home

Portrait of a dreamy teen girl wearing a blue dress and holding her hands near the face. She is standing near a blackboard with a colorful brain sketch and gears on top of it

The Psychology of Color

Think of color as a form of nonverbal communication. It can instantly set a mood, convey emotions, and even provoke a physiological reaction. According to the Institute for Color Research, people make a subconscious judgment about an environment within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone. That makes considering the best interior paint colors for selling a house powerful stuff.

Whether you’re painting the interior of your home to sell or to stay, here’s a breakdown of popular colors and their psychological effects:


Red is the most intense of the colors and ramps up the energy in a room by increasing our respiration and heart rate. If you want to create an energized feel that says you’re ready for socializing, red is a great choice. Besides encouraging conversation, red also stimulates the appetite which makes it a great color for accents in dining rooms and kitchens.

A red room can feel different based on the shade; it can feel contemporary, traditional, rustic, or timeless, depending on the shade and context. You can use a deep red on all the walls to make a room feel more intimate, or do a feature wall as a visual trick to change the proportions of a room.


Think of pink as a slightly less intense version of red. It gives the excitement of red, toned down with the gentleness of white. Pink is a softer color, typically associated with sweetness and romance, with a touch of innocence. Pink gives off some feminine energy but can be balanced out with a bit of brown or gray to create a more neutral tone that promotes calm, stillness, and beauty.

The vibe of your room largely depends on the shade of pink accents you choose. If you go with something bright like fuchsia, it suggests energy and glamour. However, a softer and more restrained tone like a blush pink or a beige with pink undertones can be quite soothing. Thanks to its wide array of tones, pink makes an excellent accent color and balances well with other colors.


Orange is an energizing and fun color that has a lot of the same characteristics of red, but without the negative side effects, like raising your blood pressure. While the color can instantly add a sense of fun and playfulness to a space, orange can also be quite polarizing. Simply put, people either love it or hate it.

This color is a favorite of those who like to be known for their creativity and individuality. It’s a great way to add a pop of color since it blends well with neutrals. A bright, true orange can be quite intense and lively, while a more brown-based shade of orange, like a terra cotta or a burnt sienna, acts like more of a calming, cozy influence. And some say that the color orange makes you feel younger.


Many homeowners use yellow as their go-to color because it’s hard to feel down in a happy yellow room. Sure, yellow is a cheerful and optimistic color, but did you know it also can evoke memory and imagination? In fact, yellow can bring all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings to the surface and it helps increase focus. Pastels and buttery shades work well with neutrals too, making them ideal colors for an accent wall.

One thing to keep in mind, the eye sees yellow before any other color. So, if you are using it with other colors, it probably will be the one that stands out. And it’s the color that makes babies cry the most—so you probably want to think twice about using yellow in a nursery.


Green is the most relaxing color on the color wheel. Thanks to its connection with nature, green is associated with positive growth, renewal, and good health. Its serene and tranquil qualities are even supposed to prevent nightmares—a big plus for a bedroom paint color, especially for a child’s room. Green is also believed to relieve stress.

If you want a bright and cheerful room, try a brilliant apple green. For something a little more soothing and muted, a dark olive or forest green is a great option. Sage green works as a neutral shade and balances well with browns and natural wood tones.


Blue is the most calming of all the colors. It’s said to slow your heart rate and respiration, as well as lower blood pressure. That’s why home sellers will pay a premium for a blue bathroom. A blue room can truly be an oasis of calm in a busy world. Because of its sedating effects, blue also helps us concentrate, which makes it a perfect color for a home office.

Blue symbolizes trust, dependability and stability which may be why more people choose it as their favorite color. Plus, as one of the most versatile colors to work with, it’s easy to pair with other hues. From bright turquoise to toned down pastels, just about any shade of blue will leave you feeling relaxed.


Purple is a spiritual and creative color that people either seem to love or hate. Because it has long been associated with royalty, purple can make a room seem regal and convey feelings of wealth and abundance.

Purple can be highly dramatic or soft and quiet, depending on the tone or shade. Light lavender-gray walls create softness and give off a very calming energy. Dark purple can create a moody feel, while a bright purple can make a room feel like it’s bursting with energy. Whatever you do, don’t go overboard with purple. All you need are a few strategically placed purple accents to create a whole purple vibe for your surroundings.


When it comes to best interior paint colors for selling a house, gray tends to get a bad rap, thanks to the weather. While a day of gray skies might make things seem dark, moody, and a little sad, there’s so much more to this great color when used in design. It's a versatile color that adds an element of sophistication to a space with a soothing influence. Since it’s naturally more muted on its own, it’s the perfect backdrop for brighter colors. It really makes them pop.

With so many different shades to choose from, you can easily create rooms with drastically different vibes. For example, dove gray is a soft and soothing neutral that pairs well with plums and violets, while charcoal-gray pairs well with deep reds, for a dramatic look. For a more relaxing feel, pair a cloud gray with softer warm neutrals.


Need to create a space that makes you want to slow down and relax? Brown is the color you’re looking for. Brown is a rich, earthy color that instantly gives a room a calm, warm, relaxing feeling. The calming element probably comes from its connection to nature since it’s the color of natural wood.

It works well as a neutral backdrop to showcase brighter colors, but it’s also the perfect main color in a space. A rich chocolate color creates a sophisticated look, while a lighter brown can be paired with a bright turquoise or a pale aqua to create an airier feel. You could also pair it with deeper shades of burgundy or purple for a more dramatic room or mix several shades of brown together for an extra calm and cozy space.

To take some of the guesswork out of paint colors that can make a difference, sellers can use the official Zillow Paint Colors Analysis. It shows which colors are most likely to raise your sale price at the national level, plus important local data, too.

If you’re considering listing your home, keep in mind one of the most important steps is to freshen your property for a sale, which includes choosing the best interior paint colors for selling a house. If that’s you, please contact me. As a leading Montecito Realtor and resident for many years, I have valuable insight into the current local real estate market. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a new home, chances are you’ll want to consider having that one painted as well. And it just so happens that I might have the home of your dreams in my portfolio of current listings. Whether buying or selling, just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at

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“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

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- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

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- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch