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What’s your color?

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As a Realtor, I often find myself reading about design trends. Not that I consider myself an avid designer, or feel I necessarily have the instincts of a great interior designer.  But, I find it interesting, and basic design concepts and trends can come in handy when talking to sellers who are thinking of selling their home.

So, when I found myself reading an article recently in Atlanta Business Chronicle on trends in Farmhouse design (which I love, by the way, but may be tiring a bit of it), I eagerly took in the trend change — from the soft Farmhouse styling made popular by Joanna Gaines/Fixer Upper, to Modern Farmhouse.  And, now, it seems Urban Farmhouse is bringing in more bold color (think about the feel of graffiti art, married with an old farmhouse — very bold and stylish) and marrying it with rustic building materials.

In any event, this article started me thinking about the common advice we give to sellers about their decor and prepping their home for sale.  As agents, we always advise them to “neutralize” their decor.  De-personalize it.  Paint everything gray (or whatever the “builder beige” trend is of the moment).  And, this isn’t bad advice.  Perhaps a little boring to some, but necessary.  As a home seller, you want buyers to come into your home and feel it is stylish and up-t0-date, but you don’t want them to have any kind of reaction to the decor itself — you want it to generally appeal to everyone (ie, be neutral).  If the decor stands out enough for someone to have a really strong positive reaction to it, then someone else is likely going to react negatively.  Because we all have different attractions to decor — some like soft colors and decor, some like bold.

I recently had the opportunity to let this play out at my own house (yes, agents usually think about “resale” at their own home and try to apply the same concepts).  We recently built a garage and, when it was time to paint it, we needed to paint the whole house.  In deciding what color to paint, I found myself thinking back to the Farmhouse article.  I love gray, but felt it was well past it’s peak trend.  I also really love the white (Sherwin Williams White Dove is the perfect white for this, folks, in case you’re wondering).  But, I also felt like that trend is nearing it’s peak and, with exterior paint color, you’ve gotta live with it for a long time!  I read another article recently about the trend toward the total opposite — black, dark gray and midnight blue houses.  While I absolutely love how it looks, it’s not for me. And, it’s certainly not neutral.

I finally (and somewhat hesitantly) decided to go against the very advice I give sellers every day — I was going to pick a color I personally love, and throw caution to the wind in terms of “resale”.  And, my favorite color of all time is Restoration Hardware Silver Sage.  It’s so dated, so “early 2000’s”.  No one uses it anymore.  But, I love it (I still have it in my master bedroom and bathroom).

I have to admit, the day I came home and the garage was painted, I immediately had a sinking feeling. The first thing that came to mind was, “That’s so 2003”.  My brand new paint already looked dated.  Dismayed, I decided to sit with it a bit, while I decided on a new color for the house (and repainting the garage).

You know what?  After a couple of weeks, it really started to grow on me.  It’s neutral, albeit maybe not a super-trendy color right now.  And, it’s my very favorite color.  I bravely decided to paint the whole house that color.  And, with crisp white trim, not Dove White (seriously, my painter asked me at least 5 times, “Are you sure you want Pure White and not White Dove?”  Yes, Martin.  I’m positive).   The verdict?  Every single day when I pull up, I absolutely love it.  I mean, I really, really love it.

The takeaway from this is that, if you’re going to sell your house right away, listen to your Realtor.  A good agent will tell you what’s trendy and neutral. And, don’t be offended if they ask you to paint your perfect orange wall that highlights your bold, modern artwork.  It’s just making it neutral for selling your house.  It’s not a personal commentary on the worthiness of your decor or your design expertise.  Just let it go and “go neutral”.


However, if you’re going to stay in your house for a while, and just want to be conscientious of possible resale in the future, then you can do a little more to pick what you like.  I would avoid super-trendy design choices that are hard to change later.  For example, I absolutely love all the new bathroom tile with fleur-de-lis styling.  But, I would never put it in my house because both myself and buyers will think it’s dated in 10 years.  And, tile is a pain to change later.   If you’re staying in your house for 10-15 years, paint it whatever color you like — you’ll probably paint it when you sell anyway.  But, if you think you might sell in 5 years, I’d still go with neutral, but you can pick something that has a bit of color and personality.

All this to say, it’s about balance.  It’s about finding that happy medium between what you like (I mean, you want to enjoy living in your space — don’t make your house all gray if you don’t like gray!) and making decisions that will stand the test of time when it’s time to sell your home.  In my case, long live Silver Sage!

What’s your color?  If you’re thinking of improvements to your home and want to keep resale in mind, you can always ask one of our Red Robin agents for input.  Even if you’re not thinking of selling right away, we’re always happy to come and chat about color, decor, basic design trends, what improvements are the best investment, etc.   

To set up a design meeting, reach out to Melissa Wakamo — 404-729-1133,

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About The Author
Melissa Wakamo

When Melissa Wakamo began her real estate career in 2004, her goal was to focus on her immediate area and get to know her neighbors. "I've had a lot of fun over the years helping my neighbors sell their homes and helping newcomers become a part of our community." Melissa quickly became one of metro Atlanta’s top producing agents and consistently performed in the top 1% of all Atlanta agents. By 2009, Melissa’s real estate team had grown to include several agents and support staff, providing exceptional service to buyers and sellers in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods. In her role as Managing Broker, Melissa provides agent training, marketing and strategic oversight for Keller Knapp Realty, and continues to provide exceptional real estate services to Atlanta buyers and sellers. "If you're thinking of buying or selling a home, or are considering a career as a real estate agent, let's talk soon!"