The great paint scam

Ah, fresh paint…. so pretty.  I agree!  Every designer I have ever heard talks about how easy it is to change a room with paint.  The totally temporary decision, changeable like the wind…. (kinda)

I actually agree that paint is pretty easy to change but it is time, effort, and around $50 in supplies depending.  When I got this house I happily picked paint and did every room because I was owning my house and I was super tired of white walls in an apartment or dorm.

My argument with the current status quo is that one MUST paint a house to sell a variety of very neutral colors.  Regardless if it was already basically neutral, you need to have a ‘freshly painted’ house to give it that new feeling that buyers want.  Therefore, buyers are conditioned to feel that if a house isn’t freshly painted it isn’t well cared for.  Isn’t the very first thing you, buyer, are going to do is paint the house the colors you want?

Like the compulsion to buy candy and flowers on holidays, I think we have created a compulsion about fresh paint.  Personally, I worry that fresh paint might be covering up something bad…

Good reasons to paint;

  • you had a very strong, dark or unique color – I agree dialing the color back to neutral is nice for the new person to have a clean slate to work from.
  • Minor dings or scrapes from life that a fresh coat cleans up

Gray areas

  • you needed to do some repairs like taking down a mounted TV – that leaves holes and those holes should be fixed and then the wall should be one color without spackle cloud.  HOWEVER. this actually goes to my ‘cover up’ theory because if you are really bad at fixing things you can do a pretty bad job and just cover it up with paint and when New Buyer goes to put a wall anchor in to mount their TV they find a metal mesh with a rag stuffed behind it and a thin layer of plaster… oh yeah, and paint.
  • The walls are dirty.  Well, the paint will make them look nice but dirt isn’t the best base.  You really should just scrub it if you care about the next owner’s happiness and then clean, it may not need painting anyway.
  • It just needs paint – like its faded.  I can see the standard of a move in ready room but again, the new person will probably also paint.

Stupid Reasons

  • a kids bedroom that is not gender neutral.  Seriously?  You can’t imagine your son in a pale pink room?  Feel free to paint it when you buy the house!!!  Like ask your son; “Son, do you want green or gray or yellow or hey, do you like pink?”
  • Because you have to have ‘fresh paint’ everywhere just because…


You know what I would do if I was not painting?  I would be cleaning things that actually matter more.  Or fixing things that I know are broken but you can’t see as well as ‘fresh paint’.  Or packing or, heaven forbid, spending some time with the kids.

Painting where there is no reason to paint slows down the other things so much.  I can’t clean a room that is in the middle of being painted.  I can’t arrange the furniture or get the room ‘done’ until not just the paint is dry but I put back all the switchplates and scrub the drips off the floor and pull all the tape and then I can arrange the room in a way that a buyer can see themselves in the home.

Oh well, just like holidays that I feel compelled by the (not so) silent pressure of hallmark to celebrate in a certain way I will be painting so the house is ‘fresh’.  I do hope someday this cycle will end because I guarantee that the new owner will be down at the paint department asap.  I wonder if rooms get smaller with layers of paint?

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