Interior design color samples plan with fabric swatch

Keeping it neutral

Why you should stick with the greiges when it comes to selling your home

If you’ve ever sold a home, you were likely told at some point to keep it neutral – meaning although you may have loved the lightness of a lime green dining room or the sensual feel of a dark red bedroom, you went with beige, grey or greige.

And for good reason, say experts.

“Neutral-coloured spaces allow us to feel a sense of connection with nature and experience pleasant or calming emotions, both of which facilitate a desire to stay in a space,” said Katherine Schurer, a registered psychologist with Calgary’s Now in Colour Psychological Services Inc.

“Wanting to stay in a space likely precipitates imagining what it would be like to live or work there.”

Our connection to neutral colours stems from psychological research that suggests colour has an influence on our behaviour, preferences, emotions and productivity.

“There seems to be agreement that colour perception is somewhat subjective and influenced by our personal, biological, cultural, and situational experiences,” said Schurer.

“So to some degree, colour influences us through what we learn to associate with a particular colour.”

Neutral colours – which are often found in nature, are soft, muted or watery – give us good feelings. That’s because colours that remind us of nature can be experienced as calming, relaxing or even soothing, said Schurer.

Why? Because research suggests the wavelength of a colour can influence physiological arousal, such as increasing or decreasing heart rate, said Schurer. As such, colours with longer wavelengths, such as red, are stimulating and/or arousing, while colours with shorter wavelengths, such as green, have the opposite effect.

“Our perception of colour can also be influenced by the context we view it in,” added Schurer. “Over time, we have been socialized to expect neutral colours and spaces when viewing show homes and design shows. As such, we are likely expecting to see neutral colours and environments when viewing property for sale.

“When we encounter environments that meet our expectations, we have pleasant experiences. Conversely, when we see bright or bold colours, this may not meet our expectations, creating a negative impression of the property as a whole.”

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