BAM Key Details: 

  • A new Zillow report shows buyers pay more for homes with interior walls painted in dark hues rather than lighter neutrals. 
  • A charcoal gray kitchen can add about $2,512 to a home’s sale price, while a white kitchen can actually deduct more than $600. 
  • Buyers pay more for homes with black or mid-tone rosy brown front doors than for those with front doors painted in cement gray. 

Sellers are going dark to get higher bids on their homes. 

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. What we mean is that sellers who want to freshen up their homes with new paint colors before listing should opt for darker hues—and steer clear of pale neutrals. 

At least, that’s what the numbers are showing in a new Zillow paint color analysis. Homes with kitchens in charcoal, deep graphite gray, or mid-tone pewter can add more than $2.5K to a home’s sale price. And dark gray living rooms and bedrooms can add upwards of $1.7K. 

Compared to classic white, dark gray walls are attracting higher offers in every room studied: kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. And the psychology behind this has a lot to do with the post-pandemic return to our busy lives in and out of the workplace. 

Crisp white kitchens are just not it right now. Dusky, dramatic hues are having a moment. 

From bland to brooding

Buyers are leaning away from pale grays and beiges and showing a clear preference for dark grays and deep earth tones like rosy brown. Having a classic white kitchen can actually shave $612 from a seller’s home sale price. 

Deep graphite gray, on the other hand, is getting the thumbs-up, along with an estimated $2,512 more than expected. Mid-tone pewter is slightly more popular, netting an extra $2,553. 

Living rooms and bedrooms with dark gray walls are also driving up sale prices by at least $1,755 compared to those painted in pale neutrals. 

Buyers have been exposed to dark gray spaces through home improvement TV shows and their social media feeds, but they’re likely drawn to charcoal on a psychological level. Gray is the color of retreat.  As we come out of the pandemic and return to our hectic lives, buyers want home to be a refuge. They want to withdraw and escape from the uncertainty of the outside world, and rooms enveloped in dark gray can create that feeling of security.

Mehnaz Khan

Color psychology specialist and interior designer in Albany, New York

Cement-gray doors are out

A midtone gray front door can dent a seller’s home price by an estimated $3,365. Buyers surveyed for Zillow’s study prefer black doors and would offer $300 more for a front door in a mid-tone rosy brown. 

Earth tones in the bathroom are nothing new, but deeper colors—like a trendy terra-cotta brown (a 2023 color of the year)—can add $1,624 to a home’s sale price. 

Of course, all these numbers depend on other factors that can either elevate or reduce a home’s market value. But for sellers intent on maximizing their returns, it pays to be strategic when it comes to paint colors. 

Of all the improvements sellers make to spruce up their homes before putting them on the market, interior painting is the most common. And by choosing colors today’s buyers are gravitating towards, a seller can potentially add thousands of dollars to their home’s sale price. 

Paint is a relatively affordable and easy change, yet it has an outsized impact on a buyer’s perception of the home. People don’t buy homes every day, so they’re trying to quickly process a lot of complex information in an area where they don’t have a lot of experience. That uncertainty is likely why buyers rely on color as a powerful visual signal that a home is modern and up-to-date, or tired and needs maintenance. That first impression contributes to their overall feelings about a home and ultimately, how much they’re willing to pay for it.

Amanda Pendleton

Zillow's home trends expert

Methodology for the Zillow Study

Zillow’s paint color analysis is based on survey results from more than 4,700 recent and prospective buyers across the U.S. Respondents were randomly assigned images of a home with interior walls and doors painted in one of 11 or 10 colors, respectively. 

Each color then received a score based on— 

  • Buyer perception of the home 
  • Likelihood of the buyer touring the home
  • How much the buyer would be willing to pay for it

Takeaways for real estate agents

If you know buyers are gravitating toward dark grays and deep earth tones, this would be useful information to pass on to your seller clients—particularly those interested in making improvements to boost their home’s market value. 

Any information that can help your clients get the best possible results from their transactions is worth passing on.