When prepping your home for sale, one of the most important tasks is giving your walls a fresh coat of paint. The standard advice from most real estate professionals is to keep them neutral with shades of white. But as a home stager and an interior designer, I prefer to take a more stylish approach. .
Remember, the overall goal of home staging is to make each room feel fresh, inviting and neutral enough so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there. That doesn’t have to translate, however, to bland, boring and devoid of style. Sometimes white can work, but a greater concern is making sure the room doesn’t look too stark. These elegant, crowd-pleasing neutral paint colors can help you stage your home to perfection.
As you consider these choices, keep in mind that to present your home in the right light, you’ll want to select a neutral paint color that coordinates with your furnishings and finishes. The following warm or dark neutrals can add style and while maintaining a mainstream look. . Gorgeous ‘Greige’
Gray has been the new white for years now. But not all grays are created equal. “Greige,” a pale gray with a beige undertone, is one of the most versatile colors for staging. Essentially a pale taupe, greige is a cool, sophisticated hue that can elegantly complement and add depth to a mostly white room. It’s great in both large and smaller spaces. . Wall paint: Elephant’s Breath No. 229, Farrow & Ball
In this room, this go-to paint color for home stagers adds subtle contrast to the mostly white and beige palette. If the walls here were painted white, the space would have a starker look with less personality. . Wall paint: Kestrel White SW-7516, Sherwin-Williams; also try Mega Greige, Sherwin-Williams
Bird’s Egg Blue
I always refer to this type of blue as a grown-up turquoise. A warm medium blue with sunny undertones, bird’s egg blue is an elegant choice for living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, particularly when the rest of the room is white, beige or gray. . Wall paint: Pale Powder, Farrow & Ball
A pale serene turquoise works well with both traditional and modern decor to create a soothing feeling in this room. This calm environment can have a positive emotional effect on potential buyers and allow them to appreciate the beauty of the space. .
In this large bedroom with textiles in shades of white, the pale turquoise creates a stylistic feature of the angled ceilings and beams while still giving the room a peaceful color palette. . Wall paint: Woodlawn Blue, HC-147, Benjamin Moore; also try Lulworth Blue No. 89, Farrow & Ball, or Gossamer Blue 2123-40, Benjamin Moore
A darker color can also be a surprising neutral. Many people might be hesitant to use a dark paint color, thinking it will make the room look smaller or darker. A dark color can, however, add depth on an accent wall. In a dark room it can conceal any shadows and replace an overall dark feeling with a serene and stylish one.Charcoal, a deep gray, is a perfect dark neutral that can raise the style factor in a room as well as add a refreshing cool tone that complements beige and orange wood hues. Adding subdued drama, it works well in light-filled rooms or on an accent wall, especially in smaller rooms or on walls where you want to feature an architectural element.For a stylish contrast, coordinate charcoal walls with accessories and furniture in lighter colors, such as whites and pale beiges.Wall paint: Kendall Charcoal HC-166, Benjamin Moore
In this double-height living room, the cool character of the charcoal accent wall tones down the warm honey tones of the wood and brown sofa. It also gives the room a crisp modern feeling, coordinates with the clean, contemporary architectural lines and features the soaring ceiling, which is no doubt one of the selling points of this home. . Accent wall paint: Stormy Sky 1616, Benjamin Moore; also try Peppercorn SW-7674, Sherwin-Williams
Let the sunshine in with a little golden yellow on your walls or fixed elements such as cabinets. This photo shows how a cheerful yellow can add warmth to a mostly white kitchen; it works well with white or stainless steel appliances. . Cabinet paint: Castilian Gold, Pratt & Lambert
In other rooms, such as a cozy bedroom or living room, this color’s sunny disposition can add a layer of charm to an otherwise blah color palette. It’s especially helpful in rooms that have low light, no view, or architectural features that cast dark shadows. The golden hues help eliminate a darker feeling and can distract from a bleak view. .
Look for a yellow that has a slight wheat or creamy undertone and that isn’t overly bright or garish. A mellow yellow coordinates with most wood hues, earth tones, blues and pastel colors. . Wall paint: Traditional Yellow 170, Benjamin Moore; also tryRay of Light CSP-910 or Beacon Hill Damask HC-2, both Benjamin Moore
Navy blue is an excellent paint color to add sophistication, drama and a feeling of refined maturity to a room. Similar to charcoal gray, navy works well in a light-filled room or on a featured accent wall, particularly in smaller rooms or walls with architectural details like a fireplace. .
Coordinate navy with contrasting pale hues like whites, silver or beiges. . Wall paint: Stunning 826, Benjamin Moore
As seen in this beautiful bedroom, a navy accent wall gives an ordinary room a more designed and notable look. The dark wall not only creates a dramatic backdrop to the simple wood bed and white accessories, it also adds visual depth to that part of the room. This is a clever design trick to help a room feel a bit larger or appropriately functional to a prospective buyer. . Wall paint: Hale Navy HC-154, Benjamin Moore; also tryIndigo Ink HDC-CL-26A, Behr, or Commodore 6524, Sherwin-Williams
If your walls are already a shade of white and adding a new color isn’t in your comfort zone, look to neutral creamy whites to give the room a warm and refreshing look. .
Creamy white has an undertone of pale beige or greige, without being too yellow. The added warmth can give a stark room a welcoming glow without adding color. . Wall paint: Elmira White HC-84, Benjamin Moore
Pair your creamy white walls with a whiter color on the trim, ceiling and fixtures. The ivory-toned walls in this bathroom, for example, create a subtle contrast between the cooler white of the bathtub and surround. The effect in this rustic bathroom is a soft glow — something a paler or cooler white wouldn’t do. . Wall paint: Muskoka Trail 974, Benjamin Moore; also try Linen White 912 or Glacier White AC-40, both Benjamin Moore; ceiling paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore
The subtle differences between quartzite and quartz seem to befuddle everyone from design-savvy clients to industry experts. Some people even use the names interchangeably, which is a huge mistake because it only adds to the confusion. Each material has its pros and cons, so educating yourself on the facts is important, especially if you are considering either of these beauties for your home improvement project. A quartz versus quartzite showdown is well overdue, so let’s dive in.
Quartz, or engineered quartz, is manmade. It’s composed of roughly 90 percent ground quartz (the actual mineral), with the remaining 10 percent being a mixed cocktail of resins, polymers and pigments that varies by manufacturer.
The difference between the two translates to discrepancies in form and function. Quartzite and quartz both offer durability. In fact, each outperforms granite in terms of hardness. However, you will definitely want to consider the factors that follow before you decide on your new kitchen or bathroom countertops. (Can you guess which material our firm selected for this kitchen? Hint: Our client wanted to go au naturale.)
Meanwhile, quartz attempts to replicate those distinct characteristics, such as veining. Technology is always advancing, and engineered materials are getting harder to distinguish from the real deal. But because quartz is produced in a controlled manner on a large scale, at some point patterns emerge and repetition happens.
In addition to hardness, most people are concerned with whether a stone will resist heat and staining over time, especially if you’re talking about an enthusiastic entertainer or a bustling family with young children.
Quartzite wins in terms of heat resistance, making it a prime candidate for kitchens. (No worries if you happen to set that hot pan down for a moment on the counter next to your stove.)
On the other hand, the density of quartz makes it more able to combat stains than its fully organic counterpart. Which means you can opt for solid white quartz in the kitchen and won’t need to fret over any of those inevitable messes and spills.
A case can be made for either material, so it is helpful to think through the way you envision yourself using and maintaining the space to determine your highest priority. Our clients loved the pretty look and high performance of Taj Mahal quartzite in their kitchen so much that they carried it into their butler’s pantry wet bar, shown here.
Etching is not staining. It’s almost like an added layer of patina that shows up in high-traffic areas or under certain lighting. For example, etching can appear as discoloration that looks like dark water spots next to your sink even after the droplets have dried. Lucky for us, neither quartz nor quartzite are prone to etching, so both have become a popular choice for bathroom vanities. Judging by this gorgeous dark quartz countertop installation, it’s not hard to see why.
Again, quartz was used throughout this bathroom as both the vanity top and the tub deck. Splash it everywhere (literally), and ease your mind. No etching here.
As far as scratches are concerned, remember those beautiful veins and the broad range of colors quartzite offers? Those features can be super helpful in disguising imperfections. And at the end of the day, quartzite is indeed more scratch-resistant than quartz. This lovely island from Aria Stone Gallery has us ready to dig right in.
The more uniform surface of quartz can make any abnormality (like a deep scratch) stand out. But, since it’s unlikely that items like hairbrushes would be hard enough to cause any noticeable damage, it was a safe, serene and soothing choice here.
So, what do you think? Are you a fan of quartzite or quartz? Perhaps the examples that follow will sway you one way or the other. These specialty applications demonstrate that you can think outside the “countertop” box and use these versatile materials in lots of surprising ways. For instance, the entire wall in this stunning bathroom is covered with Blue Macaubas quartzite. Wow!
Did you know that quartz and quartzite can also be used to create fireplace surrounds? This living room features a quartz surround, and the way it blends so effortlessly with the other architectural details of the space is the epitome of understated elegance.
For something really extraordinary, hang a stone slab as artwork. (You’ll need a wall that can support the weight.) A natural stone, like the quartzite shown above, makes for a bold statement with its unique veining and uncommon colors. But if you’re aiming for a more modernist, abstract piece, manmade quartz would work too.
Finally, even after you’ve done your research, it’s always a good idea to consult your designer or the professionals at your local stone supplier showroom. They know all the nitty-gritty details and can help you decide which material is most appropriate for your unique lifestyle and home.
Pros and Cons Recap
Pros: Durable; can come in solid colors for a more uniform look; very stain resistant; not prone to etching
Cons: Because it’s an engineered product, sometimes pattern repetition occurs; not as heat resistant or scratch resistant as quartzite
Pros: Durable; because it’s a natural stone, there is infinite variation in color and pattern (no two slabs are the same); very heat resistant; not prone to etching; more scratch resistant than quartz
End-of-island storage, dual barn doors and in-drawer charging stations are among the stars of this year’s top kitchens
The trend toward kitchens featuring colored cabinets and islands is gaining steam, but the appreciation for the classic white-and-wood look is hardly on fumes. The most popular kitchens cover a mix of traditional, contemporary and rustic styles, but no matter the look, smart storage solutions and functional layouts were definite crowd pleasers. Counting down, here’s a look at the most popular kitchens uploaded in 2017, as measured by how many Houzz users saved them to their ideabooks.
10. Showcase your style. This white farmhouse kitchen in St. Louis scores extra points by leaving a section of cabinetry open to display dishware. This is a great spot to curate based on the seasons or to cycle through your various collections.
Faucet: Traditional pull-down in polished copper, Waterstone
9. High contrast. While white kitchens continue to resonate with home design fans, those with more contrast are gaining steam. This Pennsylvania kitchen caught a lot of eyes with a backsplash and stools that navigate between the charcoal gray island and the white cabinets.
8. Pretty and practical. For designer Sarah St. Amand’s own kitchen in Toronto, she selected a stunning quartz for the countertops and backsplash. “I knew I wanted to mimic marble, but marble isn’t the best choice for busy people and families in their kitchens because it’s porous and stains easily.” The quartz she selected gives her the best of both worlds.
7. Your barn door is open. This Michigan kitchen features two barn doors on a single sliding track. One of the doors slides open to reveal a walk-in pantry, while the other door leads to the living room. Therefore, if the homeowners want to hide a messy pantry or keep guests out of the kitchen, the solution is just a slide away.
6. End-of-island storage. Having a kitchen island with a bar refrigerator built right into it is a design decision that stands out from the pack. Since this picture was among the most saved images of the year, Houzzers seem to agree.
While the fridge here is full of adult beverages, it would also come in handy for juice boxes and other kid-friendly drinks, allowing the little ones to serve themselves.
5. Easy access. With a 2-year-old and a baby on the way, these homeowners wanted a stylish kitchen that was also practical. The cooktop is on the island so the parents can keep an eye on the little ones while cooking. Pullouts on both sides of the cooktop provide space for storing oils on one side and utensils on the other.
4. Natural selection. The heart of this Dallas kitchen is the island-breakfast bar, which features rich materials and a double waterfall structure. The raised breakfast bar is made of warm walnut, while the island top is white marble with gray veining. Homeowner and builder Chris Dauwe covered the space beneath the breakfast bar in reclaimed wood, sourced from a barn in North Carolina. Using natural-looking materials helped Dauwe achieve his goal of “a contemporary home with an industrial twist,” he says.
3. Keeping up with the classics. While colored cabinets and islands have been showing up more and more in kitchens, it’s still hard to deny the power of a classic white kitchen. This New York City kitchen, which features white Shaker cabinets, quartz countertops and a subway tile backsplash, is among the year’s most popular with Houzzers.
2. Finding the right mix. To choose the color of the island, one of the homeowner’s of this kitchen spent many hours on Houzz, sending photos of green, blue and gray cabinets to designer Christine Sheldon until the two finally landed on soft blues.
Once they narrowed the choices to three, Sheldon painted those colors on the cabinet surface and then had the colors tinted until she hit on just the right mix. The final paint color is a custom mix from Benjamin Moore.
1. Take charge. Designer Tracey Stephens was tasked with creating a retro-style kitchen that features vintage furniture and checkerboard floors for a New Jersey family of four. But the requirements of the technology age were not lost on the design.The kitchen includes a drawer with a built-in charger, complete with regular and USB outlets. “It’s so nice not to have all of those devices out and dealing with cords all the time,” homeowner Jody Suden says.
Islands are workhorses in the kitchen. They offer an additional surface area, apart from the perimeter counter tops, that can be used for food prep, serving or as a place to perch and hang out with family and friends. Those with space-challenged kitchens often think there’s no way they can squeeze in an island, but you’d be surprised at just how compact you can go.
The minimum recommended width of a kitchen work aisle is 42 inches for a single cook and 48 inches for multiple cooks, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. A walkway should be at least 36 inches wide. In a small kitchen, it can be tough to accommodate a standard-size island, which typically measures 25 to 40 inches deep, and still have adequate space for aisles and walkways.
But there’s quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to the size and orientation of a kitchen island. It should be designed and placed to provide an additional surface without being in the way of crucial kitchen tasks. Many homeowners actually prefer a compact island because it allows for better flow — it’s easier to get around when moving from one area to another.
Of course, you don’t want to make the island so tiny that it’s no longer useful. The previous two islands are fairly skinny but still offer enough surface area to be useful for various kitchen tasks. .
It’s important to think about the function of your island. Do you need additional storage space at the base of the island? Can it be open, such as the island above, or do you need closed storage? If it’s going to be an open shelf, think about what you will store there, as it will take center stage in your kitchen. Whatever is stored there could become a grease and dust collector unless it gets frequent use. .
Or perhaps you need an island that serves as an in-kitchen hangout spot. Sure, you’re not going to serve a multicourse meal on an island like the one pictured here, but it’s the right size for a couple of people to sit, visit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. If you plan to set a stool or stools around the island, consider placing them so that the person seated doesn’t get in the way of the cook. .
Clearly, a narrow island is not going to be able to house a sink or a cooktop, but it can still be useful as a landing area when taking items out of the refrigerator or oven. In fact, for safety’s sake, if your kitchen lacks a surface next to your range or cooktop, you may want to add a small island nearby so that you have a place to set hot things without having to walk too far.
An island needn’t be a fixed piece of cabinetry. This cool industrial-style kitchen features a free-standing cart as its island. Think about adding wheels so that you can move the island around the space as needed. Just be sure you can lock the wheels to keep your island from wandering off.
Size your island to best fit the geometry of your space. If your kitchen is long and narrow, then you’ll want a long and narrow island. However, if your kitchen is more square-shaped, such as the one shown here, then an island that is similarly shaped will fit and function better.
Bigger isn’t always better. If your kitchen is a bustling space, I think giving yourself wider work aisles and a smaller island is preferable to cramming in an oversize island in a way that leaves you with uncomfortably narrow aisles and walkways.
Your turn: How have you squeezed a tiny island into your kitchen? Post and share a photo in the Comments.