Allen Norwood

Desperately seeking ‘neutral’ color?

All the experts tell us to choose “neutral” paint colors for our homes’ interiors, especially when we’re preparing for sale.

Well, OK. Hard to argue with that ubiquitous advice, but it does raise a couple of questions: What exactly do they mean by neutral, and which neutral is best?

Charlotte designer Ann Spooner answers both questions. You’ll find her favorite, go-to neutral paint color at the bottom of this column, along with a good choice for white trim.

Spooner, past president of the national Interior Design Society, said to think of it this way: A neutral is a color that gets along with the colors of all your other stuff – furniture and rugs and artwork – and also will get along with the next person’s stuff. “It’s a tone that you can mix with other colors to create your own personality, yet somebody else can mix their own colors with it, too.”

When Spooner is helping to create new home interiors for Jim Feldman of Lakemist Homes, she often starts by pulling a tone from the tile, granite or cabinets. She likes taupe, common in natural stone.

Gray and beige qualify as neutrals, of course. Or today’s “greige.”

All of us know to avoid pink. It’s definitely not neutral.

Pink is a turn-off for lots of people. It’s also a color that decidedly does not get along with other colors – even colors in other rooms.

One of Spooner’s clients had two teenage daughters who asked for pink bedrooms. Spooner worked hard to choose a color that was pink – but barely. “Red is a strong pigment,” she said. “I wanted to go really pale.”

She visited the home when the work was done. “I looked up the stairs,” she said with a laugh, “and both rooms glowed out into the hall.”

Here’s a color hint that sounds counterintuitive.

More people list blue as their favorite color more often than any other hue. By a wide margin, according to many experts. That’s why furniture makers often display lots of blue in their showrooms.

If you’re painting your house to put it on the market this spring, though, don’t choose blue.

“In new construction, we never turn to blue,” said Spooner. “Blue does not sell.”

She uses greens when she wants a hint of color in the paint scheme. Perhaps a muted green, with undertones of brown or gray. Again, it’s because such greens complement other colors. “Most people have earth-tone furnishings,” she said. “They work well with green. I’ve used a sage green, and people love it.”

Her long-time favorite neutral wall paint color? It’s Kilim Beige from Sherwin-Williams.

Paint the trim pure white from Sherwin-Williams, and you can’t go wrong.

Special to the Observer: