What Paint Colors for a Rental Property?

People often ask me what paint colors they should use to paint the apartment or condo they are living in. But what paint colors for a rental property? Few people ask that question. I think this is a question that SHOULD be asked more, because paint color can make or break the success of a rental property.

Whether it’s an air bnb that rents by the week or a townhouse with a longer-term lease, the right paint colors can make the kind of first impression that results in a renter signing on the dotted line.

I’m going to share some before and afters of a rental where I recently specified paint colors, but first I’m going to tell you which general colors you should avoid when painting your rental property. I know it’s easier to just add an additional coat of the existing color, but usually that existing color is some dark muddy tan, yellow gold, or taupe. Those colors aren’t doing your rental any favors, especially in vacant rooms void of architecture.

dark tan

gold

taupe

Plus, it’s the color of every other apartment in the complex, amiright? You shouldn’t go crazy with color, but I suggest you paint a subtle color that looks fresh and stands out in a person’s memory.  What paint colors for a rental property would I recommend? I suggest choosing a light gray-blue, gray-green, or in SOME cases, the same white as the trim. Despite the current popularity of white rooms, it’s not often the best choice for throughout a rental property. But you’ll see further into the post where I specified white walls in one space (and you’ll see why).  But first, let’s start with this living room of a rental painted in a dark tan color:

before

In this space, we decided to go with a light gray blue for the wall color:

what paint colors for a rental propertyafter

 

light gray blue walls in rental property with fireplace and built in bookcasesafter

And of course, you’ll notice I laid in a dark moody blue in the backs of the bookcases to create a memory point of this architecture that isn’t standard in many similar units. The black on the fireplace surround and mantel seemed a bit heavy, so that went white like the existing trim.dark blue backs of bookcases

 

One of the bathrooms looked like this before:

before

 

In order to update this bathroom and make sense of the accent color in the bookcases, I brought the same blue in for the walls here:

dark blue bathroomafter

 

Here’s a before and after of the second bathroom in the unit:before ———->   after

 

Now let’s take a look at the kitchen, which had its challenges. The cabinets are white, which is good. But the dark brown-gold walls create choppy stripes above and below the upper cabinets and really darken the space.

before

From another vantage point, you can see there is a faux red brick wall on one side of the kitchen. I actually like the idea and texture of that, but it further chopped up the room and made it even darker.

faux red brick in kitchenbefore

 

I recommended white walls to match the cabinets, a simple subway tile backsplash, and wood laminate flooring to replace the yellowed vinyl and to match with the rest of the unit. Notice how updated the kitchen looks with the soffit painted white like the cabinets. The laminate countertop stayed, as did the existing appliances, fixtures, and hardware:

 

I chose a dark grout to add dimension and tie in with the countertop. The glossy beveled tiles bounce light around the room, further brightening the kitchen.

 

And you’ll notice the faux red brick is now white like the walls, trim, and cabinet – which makes the room bright and feel larger.

 

The place needed to be painted, and guess what? It doesn’t cost any more to paint the right colors than it does to paint the wrong ones! Or maybe I should say:  it costs more to paint the wrong colors than the right colors, because it makes a difference in how quickly a property rents.

My last Expert Psychological Stager™ course of 2018 is September 13-15, and there are only a few spots left! We spend a lot of time in this RESA-accredited certification course on specific paint colors and paint color placement, and you can find out more about it here.

 

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8 thoughts on “What Paint Colors for a Rental Property?

  1. michi says:

    The change is shockingly amazing. So much beauty in the colours you chose. Thanks for posting this dramatic before and after!

  2. Niki S. says:

    I grew up in a rental and all the walls were white because we were not aloud to paint. This explains why I hate all white walls now, reminds me of being trapped in a color I couldn’t change ever. I am in my 40’s now and just now started liking white walls with an accent color wall. These colors would have been awesome back in my child hood! Great choices.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Thank you so much, Niki! It’s always interesting how colors – especially wall colors – can provoke emotions based on our memories from the past or from childhood. I once had a client who couldn’t stand ANY shade of green because of her memories of being a a green hospital room for over a month during a childhood illness. Colors are so powerful in memory, for good and for bad!

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