At first blush, the idea of painting a room or two in your apartment might sound fun or exciting. However, as anyone who has gone on to tackle the job themselves will tell you, the process is its own exquisite form of hell, beginning with perhaps the most challenging part: picking the color. Why is it such a difficult task? After all, we make choices about colors all the time when it comes to picking out clothes.
“So much affects how you see and feel color in each space,” says Jennifer Morris, founder of JMorris Design. “The space’s unnatural light type or types and its color temperature can make one color cold or too dark... or too stark. Where windows are facing, the time of year [or even the hour, and] the location geographically all play big roles in how natural light will affect color.”
[Editor's note: This story was first published in March 2018. We are publishing it again here as part of our summer Best of Brick week.]
It only gets more mind-boggling when you decide to paint an interior white, which many sellers do since brokers and stagers typically recommend creating a neutral, clean look to attract buyers. But there are dozens of whites to choose from, some cool, some warm, with undertones across the spectrum. Some whites will make your apartment look fresh and bright. Others can give it the look of a dingy dish rag.
We checked in with designers, stagers, and brokers to find out their tried-and-true white hues for selling apartments in New York City. Here's what they had to say.
To make fixtures and finishes pop
“Gallery White by Behr is the best in my eyes. It’s crisp and clean and makes the surrounding fixtures, finishes and wood floors pop. I had to convince a building owner who had been using this bed linen-like shade of white for years to finally switch over, and I swear his rental units move faster than they ever did before.”—Kevin Kemble, Citi Habitats
For traditional apartments
“For older apartments or those with more traditional architectural features, I like Benjamin Moore's Simply White. It is bright and crisp with a touch of softness, but it never reads yellow."—Meridith Baer, Meridith Baer Home
“I worked as a fashion designer for 20 years, and am constantly updating the home I purchased 13 years ago. My go-to white paints are Valspar Ultra White for ceiling and trims and Valspar Bistro White for walls. I love Bistro White as it has a creamy warm undertone. I choose the Valspar brand because they have a lot of great options, including one-coat paints and primer/paint combos. I also live near a Lowe’s, so it’s super convenient in case I run out.”—Linda Nader, Citi Habitats
If you're unsure how much time and money to spend updating your apartment before selling it, or you'd like to test the waters to see what it's worth in its current condition, consider "pre-marketing" your co-op, condo or brownstone before you publicly list it. The pre-marketing platform at New York City brokerage Triplemint is a no-risk way to quietly test your asking price and marketing strategy among actual buyers shopping for a place like yours. There's no charge to participate and no obligation to sell or enter a traditional listing agreement if you haven't found a buyer by the end of the pre-marketing period. To learn more, click here. >>
For newer apartments
"For more contemporary apartments, I like a pristine, clean white. My favorite is Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.”—Meredith Baer
If you don't want undertones
"My favorite white wall color is Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee OC-45. Don’t be put off by the name. The reason I like it is that it has no yellow, blue or pinkish undertones. It is a warm white. My other favorite white wall color is Benjamin Moore Cloud Cover OC-25. It too has no undertones and is a little cooler than Swiss Coffee. I would pair Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White on trim with Swiss Coffee walls and Benjamin Moore Super White on trim with Cloud Cover walls."—Donna Dazzo, Designed to Appeal
"I like cooler whites over creamy yellow tones typically, but in the right space, I love Benjamin Moore White Opulence CO-69 which has a touch of pink, which is great on skin. I love Benjamin Moore Super White; it has a little warmth but is clean."—Jennifer Morris
Think about the finish
“I advise clients to use Benjamin Moore Aura paint in Super White. We do flat paint on the walls, semi-gloss on the crown moldings. If appropriate, staining hardwood floors an ebony color makes the white really stand out, making an apartment look and feel bigger.”—Evan Rosenfeld, Citi Habitats
“After painting apartments white for decades, I have found the Behr brand has the best assortment when looking for shades of white. I’ve discovered that the critical issue is to use the eggshell finish as it is good at masking flaws and easy to clean without harming the paint.”—Tim Winters, Citi Habitats
If you actually hate white
“White paint is one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s stark and something we advise clients against. We always suggest using a greige—gray and beige—paint to warm up the space and create that inexplicable feeling of home. A greige wall color will also help differentiate the property from all of the other apartments a buyer may have seen.”—Cheryl Eisen, Interior Marketing Group
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