I recently consulted with a client who was fixing up a rental property and we had to choose one colour to go throughout the entire house. So here are my hot tips on the best colour to paint a rental and also a good guide if you are starting with an empty house and moving in before you decorate:
Paint it the neutral that relates to your wall-to-wall carpet.
Especially if it's all through the main living areas. Even if you have wood floors everywhere, the carpet in the bedrooms is a good place to start to find the 'neutral' you will paint the whole place. The exception to this is if the carpet colour is dated (like pink beige). Then I would ignore the carpet and pick a neutral greige that won't fight with it.
Keep the colour light and the same throughout.
If you have a darker space, here the post I wrote A Light Colour will Never come to Life in a Dark Room does not apply. Choosing a darker colour–doesn't matter what undertone it is–still leaves you with something that is NOT neutral in the end, and a potential renter probably won't like it.
So here are my top 5 picks for the best neutral to paint a rental:
BM HC-81 Manchester Tan or SW 6155 Rice Grain
BM HC-173 Edgecombe Gray or SW 7029 Agreeable Gray
Every time I write a post like this I receive emails that start with "I know –-insert colour name here— is one of your favourites but. . . ".
When I was new to the world of specifying colour, I thought that the colour consultants that seemed to specify the same colours over and over again were not creative. But here's the thing, if everyone is buying the same linen upholstered furniture, installing gray and Carrera tile in their bathrooms and kitchens then yes, you would end up specifying the same grays over and over.
When everyone bought a chocolate sofa during the brown trend, I specified Shaker Beige, Stonehouse and Wild Mushroom over and over.
Like the 80/20 rule I posted about a long time ago. 80% of the time, we use 20% of the colours in the deck.
When specifying the same colours doesn't work is when you don't know when to choose one over the other. One of the participants in my True Colour Expert Workshop last year said that she once worked for a designer who ALWAYS specified Muslin. It doesn't matter what the client asked for, she always came back around to Muslin. It's no different from designers who are famous for using white walls. This way you never need to lose sleep over the wrong colour going up. Smart really. Stick to what you're good it, if it's not wall colour, then keep it as pale as possible, it's hard to get really offended by a pale neutral even if you didn't get the undertone quite right.
I have learned that specifying a different colour just because I'm bored with the same trend colours actually doesn't work because I end up arriving later and getting annoyed with myself that I didn't specify the colour I knew was exactly right.
That's why when Michelle Ginnerty from My Notting Hill asked if I'd contribute to an article she was writing on whites for the Washingtonian I said BM OC-10 White Sand (very close to Muslin) and Baby Fawn BM OC-15 (identical to Edgecombe Gray), just to be different.
And it's how I created my core group of neutrals that work time and time again, because really beautiful homes do not look like a rubik's cube (maybe).
It's All in the Undertones, download my eBook here. (If you have a computer you can download my book).