The “Greige-ification” of the Spring Home-Selling Process

lilacs - spring, 2015

I am so not a beige person.

Yet here I am watching – sorrowfully – as the inside of our home – is transformed from its former colorful self into a bland, freshly-painted beige – or perhaps more accurately  – “greige” –  (you do know that gray is the new beige) –  to best attract potential house buyers.

Our realtor tells us that would-be buyers would be put off by my rather obvious fondness for color in every room. By my deep sea-blue dining room and my inside-of-a-peach family room with its chili-pepper red, built-in bookcase.  Seeing our lively green front hall would cause potential buyers to flee in dismay.

Farewell to my formerly colorful home – and welcome to my greige abode.

What is it, I ask the realtor (who happens to be my close friend, Liz and in her personal capacity, she likes color, but as a realtor, she does not), that would-be house buyers find so attractive about bland and boring greige?

She tells me that today’s would-be buyers want to walk into a clean and neutral canvas, freshly-painted walls, without any family photographs or personal items that would give any clues to the personalities of the current inhabitants.  Today’s home buyers apparently have trouble picturing themselves making your house their home if they are distracted by any signs that you happen to live there.

This has changed since 1983.

When my husband JP and I bought our house, a smallish, three bedroom brick colonial built soon after WWII, we purchased it from its’ original owners who made no efforts to hide their decorative preferences. As we entered for the first time, we were treated to a symphony of stuck-in-the-1960’s era color and texture – including thick, brown shag carpeting in the living room, a front hall covered in silvery foil/black/brown/fake tree wallpaper and a kitchen done up in matching harvest gold appliances.

We did not run out in horror, but instead headed to the basement, saw that its’ knotty-pine walls had been painted black to match the floor – and that the basement ceiling sported a large spinning silver disco ball. Did I mention the burnt orange built-in basement bar?

You can’t make this stuff up, truly.

Upstairs to the three bedrooms – where the master bedroom ceiling had a light fixture that resembled a giant wrought iron wagon wheel, ready to impale you the minute you lay down on the bed below it.  Instead of closets, there hung long strands of dangling beads from two alcoves. The one-person-at-a-time master bathroom was tiled in a fetching pink and black combo.

And the piece de resistance? Following our noses we spotted a large mixing bowl of chopped raw onions sitting on the kitchen counter next to the stove. Surely nothing says “I can’t wait to sell my house” as much as the smell of freshly cut onions in the air. Was the older couple selling the house sending mixed signals?

Somehow JP and I saw beyond the house’s distasteful (to us) decor – and aromas – and snapped it up. We were not deterred by its’ extremely overly personalized appearance.  In fact, we appreciated seeing evidence that another family had lived there, who perhaps once had teenagers who likely danced in the basement and a mom who put pencil marks in the linen closet door to show the height of her children as they grew.  It was time for their family to move out –  and for ours (I was newly pregnant when we first saw our house) to begin.

Fast forward, and later this spring our house will have been completed de-nuded of anything that would indicate that a family with real lives and personal preferences has lived here for 33 years.  Family photos boxed up, my prized collection of blue ceramic bowls packed away and all bathroom items removed (Because if someone sees the kind of deodorant you use that would tell them too much about you and we can’t have that, now can we.)

From inviting warmth to the most grayish of greige – our home is now in the process of becoming a boringly bland canvas.

Watching it as it morphs from a warm, lived-in home to an it-could-belong-to-anyone kind of a house distresses me. When it stops looking like our well-loved home, I tell myself, it will make it that much easier to say goodbye.

Or else I can leave a bowl of freshly-chopped raw onions on the counter in our newly-greige-painted kitchen on the day of our first open house. Don’t tell Liz.


*To Be Continued










Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Empty Nest, Family, Female Friends, Husbands, Parenting, Raising Kids, Retirement, Women

10 responses to “The “Greige-ification” of the Spring Home-Selling Process

  1. Gregory Wolf

    oooh oooh oooh this story is ssoooooo exciting. I won’t be able to sleep until the next installment satisfies my hunger.


  2. Mary

    This is exactly what I just experienced! I had to kiss my lovely buttery yellow walls ” good-bye”. With the new paint and the packed up photographs it ceased to become my home. Yes, it did make leaving it a little easier, but I was surprised at how emotional I became. Onward!


  3. Good for you to see past the wall paper and onions! The dull gray/all off white trend is depressing but if it makes the house sell faster all the better! A friend of mine is remodeling her bathrooms and in picking tile she was told about the gray for resell value. She mentioned she was just updating and intended to stay in her home another 10+ years and the tile people basically dismissed her!


    • If the sales staff at The Tile Shop “had dismissed” me because I told them I was updating my place and staying there instead of selling the place, they would have lost the sale, and I would have bought the tiles at Home Depot. Good thing I had a good salesperson at The Tile Shop (and a friend with better design aesthetics than me) who could understand what I wanted for my bathroom and who could help me make sure that the design was good enough to make me happy. The design was wonderful, I had my handyman do the work, and I didn’t have to have to take out a huge loan to make the home improvement happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My heart truly broke when you said that you had to pack away your blue ceramic bowls!!!! Have these new potential buyers no hearts at all!?!?!!!!


  5. Are you selling both your houses?


  6. Rachel

    I loved your post! I was chuckling at the expansive description of the 1960’s outfit your place wore prior to you and your husband changing it out. And a bowl of chopped onions? I’ll bet that husband was in big trouble for not putting those away prior to the open house. Or if the wife was anything like me, it was the she who forgot.

    As I read your post I imagined us doing the same thing because we are, not exactly itching, but feeling something pull us from our too-big house, our empty nest, and yes, our colorful rooms, like yours.

    We have a blue living room, purple hallway, yellow kitchen and green dining room. I assure you its not a primary color schemed Romper Room over here. The living room blue has as much white as blue in the blue. It manages to evoke the beach, without a bunch of shells, ropes or buoys laying around. The hall purple is a grayish purple, also with a lot of white and a drop or two of black. (Yes, I mixed it myself and it reads like a almost like a neutral, but not quite). The kitchen yellow, as any of you know who have tried to pick a pleasing, and not scary, yellow know, yellow is hard to get right. Ours is like a very toned down butterscotch candy out of the wrapper, and , like the purple it took several tries to get right. The dining room green has a fair amount of white and black too, not exactly a moss, but like what you’d find on the Benjamin Moore “HIstorical Color” palate.

    And I love my colors. But I do sometimes want fewer items (the purge is coming) and I hope when we do paint to sell the house, I won’t want to stay, because I am also ready for something more soothing, more calm, more monochromatic. But, I haven’t had the nerve to paint over my colors yet.

    I was glad to see the “Continued” note at the bottom of the post so we scan find out what is next. I sense a big change coming.

    What a long comment. Get your own blog, Rachel!


  7. Bonnie J. Weissman

    Went through all of this when we sold our house in Vienna, VA prior to the move to Louisiana. What a pain! I hated selling our home and “neutralizing” it. I’ve noticed on HGTV’s shows that millenials tend to want neutral and new, new, new… so unlike you and also us. We could always see past certain things (have bought seven properties and sold five), and discussed what we could do. I did not and still don’t understand their insistence on immediate perfection. Whatever happened to making something your own? Oh well… we found a lovely home in a neighborhood of lakes, lovely non cookie cutter homes, and multiple Ph D.s per square foot it seems (we’re near LSU), and it was not perfect. We repainted all the walls and now are slowly making improvements. Always a work in progress no matter where we live or how old we are!


  8. I can’t believe that’s all you had for a closet in the MBR: two alcoves. When Mom and Dad bought the two homes I recall living in during the 60s and 70s, the closets were of the walk-in or reach-in variety. The three apartments I rented during the 80s in DC and in Arlington had walk-in closets. Those units were owned by somebody else, and I didn’t have to paint the walls and ceiling to attract me to them. When I bought my current place, a co-op unit, I didn’t paint the walls and ceiling until I got too tired of looking at the same old color of beige. Instead, I went and painted my LR a bright yellow, ditto for my kitchen, a Provincial Blue for my bath room, and a cool green for my BR. I don’t anticipate selling my place until I’m good and ready to. And if some realtor wants me to paint the place grey, I guess I have to do that, but I won’t leave a bowl of fresh onions in the kitchen–I hate onions and they’re only good if they’re breaded or fried (IMHO). Have a great Easter holiday!


  9. Cindy Overman

    I love this article! It’s so true. My son-in-law is a realtor and he will say plain is better. I sold my home my kids grew up in years ago that had teal carpet and southwest furniture (and we live in NC). It also had wallpaper in the kitchen with all kinds of fruit on it! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Cindy Oveman



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