Painting Your Kitchen for Resale

Repainting your kitchen can be an effective way to spruce it up for homebuyers. Make sure to use a subtle color palette that is appealing to a wide range of possible buyers.
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Certainly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder— but if you have paint in the kitchen that's not exactly mainstream, re-do it before that "For Sale" sign goes up, says Sue Pelley, national spokesperson for Interiors by Decorating Den, based in Easton, Md.

"Lots of colors are personally pleasing, like deep purple or dramatic dark chocolate brown walls," says Sue. "But if you've painted in a color that might not be for everyone, it can be a real barrier to sales, particularly since the kitchen is a space where potential buyers envision themselves spending a lot of time."

Repaint the dark and dramatic walls in neutrals, soft, sandy taupes or light greens like Benjamin Moore's 2145-40 Fernwood Green, says Sue: "A small kitchen could benefit from soft sagey greens and light yellows for a more spacious feel, maybe mixed with raspberry trim."

If your kitchen is part of a "great room" design or opens up to other rooms, remember that any new paint will need to work with the color schemes in those rooms, too, says Sue.

New paint is also the solution if your kitchen sports severely outdated colors. Buyers today will likely respond well to terra cotta shades and Mediterranean hues of delicate orange, peach or persimmon mixed with greens, taupes and golds, says Sue.

Of course, you have to keep the overall decor of the kitchen in mind as you update, says Stephen Ingerson, color specialist for Hirschfield's, Inc., a full-service decorating center based in Minneapolis. "The color you choose should blend with or complement the cabinets, floor and counters, or you may want to paint the walls the same color as one of the accent colors from, say, a tile backsplash," he says.

If this restriction means you must stick with an outdated color or palette, try to select a lighter version of the original hue.

"The heavy chocolate browns from the '70s and '80s are very different from today's light lattes, which may look wonderful with your existing color scheme" says Ingerson. "And while you probably should get rid of a screaming lemon yellow, you can easily replace it with a creamy, buttery shade." One good choice for latte paint and other fresh, updated colors is Restoration Hardware's line of interior paint.

Age is as much of a consideration as color, says Stephen: Buyers will not respond to dingy, peeling or grimy walls.

"If you haven't painted in the past 10 years," Stephen says, "at least put on an extra top coat in the same color and make sure to paint any accent walls the same color as the rest of the kitchen for a unified, contemporary feel."

The finish for the top coat is more important than the brand, says Stephen: "Paint with eggshell or satin so it's easy to wipe clean. If a buyer is an avid cook, that's something they're going to look for."

And even though posh luxury kitchens can help drive up the price on a home, Ingerson would not recommend investing in the super-popular Venetian plasters for a kitchen finish. "It must be troweled on by a professional, and even though it looks spectacular, it's not to everyone's taste," he says.

"If you like that look, save the expense for the house you're planning to move into!"

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