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Archive for Monday, October 12, 2009

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Swatch watch: The right paint chip may make you feel at home — or help you sell it

October 12, 2009

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Somewhere in America, there is a yellow house with a red dining room, orange living room, green kitchen and blue bedrooms. And the people living inside are excited when they eat dinner, comfortable when they watch television, calm when they open the refrigerator and feel safe when they sleep.

The perfect house — psychologically speaking.

Psychology researchers have found that the colors of a house evoke specific emotions in people. So when you’re selling your house, the color of it can make buyers feel at home or make them drive past it.

The National Association of Realtors says that yellow houses sell better than any other color. Creamy or buttery yellows tend to brighten buyers’ moods and produce a welcoming feeling.

Holly Garber, owner/broker of American Dream Realty, 4101 W. Sixth St., says her favorite colors on a house are spiced vinegar (beige for the base of house), black forest (dark blue to accent the shutters) and chocolate eclair (maroon for the front door and other accents). If you prefer a darker base, she recommends stoney creek and for the trim, almond paste.

“These specific colors — neutral colors — make people feel more at home,” Garber says.

Randy Barnes, agent at Realty Executives, 1037 Vt., and president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors, says it is important to paint your house a color that is natural to the surroundings. He says in the Midwest it is better to use earthy colors such as certain greens or browns because “they seem more natural here,” whereas on the coast it would make sense to use pastels such as pink and blue.

“There’s a joke that blue houses never sell,” Barnes says. “That’s kind of a Midwest term. When Realtors go down a list of blue houses, they’re like, ‘Oh no!’”

And “oh no!” is what you don’t want buyers to say when they enter your home. As a preventive measure, don’t paint the interior of your house white.

Design psychologist Constance Forrest, principal of Forrest Painter Design in Venice, Calif., incorporates psychological techniques in the design of interior spaces. She says white “makes the room invisible. White is a missed opportunity to create a feeling in the space. It doesn’t help buyers imagine themselves in the home.”

Garber also is not a fan of white. Even off-white is too white for her. She prefers to paint the interiors a blond mixed with white at 50 percent. For the accent wall, she likes a color called fireweed, which is a shade of red. For a less bold accent wall, go with blue or green.

“I know the colors I like, and I see that they do work,” Garber says.

Barnes has noticed some trends in the area. Traditionally, houses are painted light colors — tans, grays and greens — but now houses are becoming more dramatic with darker colors. He says it’s a good idea to have an exterior and interior color scheme, but that the schemes should complement each other to form an overall color palette.

“If the outside of the house is one color and you walk in and the interior is a whole different color scheme, that’s a little strange,” Barnes says.

Garber suggests when choosing colors to improve the chances of selling you home, drive around the entire neighborhood to ensure that no one else has the exact color you are going with. If your next door neighbor’s house is beige, she says ask them what shade it is and then choose a color that is noticeably different.

Or, you can talk to your real estate agent. Or maybe even a psychologist.

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