Why do Decorators Prefer a Neutral Palette?

by Karen Briscoe
November 18, 2013

The luxury town home that our family purchased a few years ago was a Realtor® dream come true in that all the wall colors were painted “real estate agent off-white”, all the bathroom fixtures were a neutral white and the floor coverings either hardwood or tightly woven beige carpet.  The reason a neutral color scheme is preferred for selling a home is that it offers a blank slate for the buyer’s own taste and personality.  What all this neutrality shouted to me was “boring!”  So the first person I called the day we moved in was a home stager/decorator that has assisted a number of my clients with preparing their homes for sale and then personalizing their new residences.


What I longed for most of all was color.  What I obtained instead was much better, and that is a home pleasing to the senses.


The decorators came and listened carefully as we shared how our family would use the different spaces.  We visualized a home where we could host social functions and dinner parties, while still being comfortable for daily family living.  I facetiously characterize this home as my first “grown-up” house.  In previous homes primary consideration was paid to having durable goods and hardy furnishings that could endure the wear and tear of active children.  Further I tended to select strong colors with patterns that would not “show dirt”.


At this juncture in our life, we were willing to take some risk with furnishings with a more elegant style.  So I was surprised when the decorators selected almost entirely neutral palettes.   After living with the finished product for a few years, I now understand better the purpose of using neutral colors as the base.  Neutral colors are more pleasing to the senses, particularly over time.


In order to add personality, pops of color and interest, the decorators used easily interchangeable items such as: pillows, art work, wall hangings, throws, plants, lamps, rugs and window treatments.  The decorators asked that I leave out all the possessions important to our family and they incorporated them where they could.  I discovered it is an art to take a family member’s possessions and place them.

Now that we have lived in the home for several years, I am ready for a fresh look for some of the spaces.  With the neutral palette to work from, all I need to do is obtain some new pillows, rugs, towels and the like and with simple adjustments have a new look.


Just as what I found the best way to decorate my home was to hire professionals, to be in tune with the real estate market dynamics it is best to obtain the counsel of an experienced Realtor®.  Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy with the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Realty Group would be delighted to be of assistance in providing that market consultation for the Northern Virginia, Washington DC and suburban markets areas.  Please visit our website for more information at:  www.HBCRealtyGroup.com or contact Karen Briscoe at 703-734-0192 or Homes@HBCRealtyGroup.com.

Karen Briscoe is Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC) and author of "Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day". She is an Associate Broker in Virginia, a Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Karen began her real estate career developing residential lots with the Trammel Crow Company in Dallas, and in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company in the Washington, DC Metro area. Karen has a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University and her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri – her hometown.
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