From Drab to Fab – Episode 3

Mike O'Neal Landlords Leave a Comment


Picking the right color scheme, and getting a quality paint job is by no doubt the single most important element to your properties’ renovation.  Walls are the largest, most visible element of your property and they inform your prospective tenant’s first impressions.  

Q: Is the unit cared for?

     A: Not if the walls have nail holes, poorly executed patches or are otherwise dirty.

Q: Can I see myself living here?

     A: Not if there is a hunter green accent wall, or other color scheme that doesn’t reflect a modern lifestyle.

Navajo White…

Growing up, my family moved quite often, and my parents would always paint the interior each new house the exact same color:  Navajo White.  I guess my mom liked that it was a warm neutral tone that worked well with all of her furniture. She likes the color so much, she still uses it today!  

While I’m sure Navajo White was the most popular color of the time (and contrasted well with the Avocado Green appliances!), it is way too ‘yellow’ for today’s tastes, and to me at least, looks dirty and bland.  Yet I see lots of properties where the owner’s have ignored new color trends and paint a room with a scheme that is not appealing to today’s millennium renter.  Are YOU still using Navajo White??

“You are going to tell me that I should paint my walls Grey, aren’t you?

Yes, I am!  

By now, most property owners have heard that Grey is the current “hip” color, but many still resist using it.   I hear on a daily basis from owners that grey to too cold of a color, or that a grey room looks too impersonal or industrial. I certainly agree that the WRONG grey can be all of those things,

but even if you hate grey, there are many reasons to use it:

1) You don’t live in this place, so pick a color for your tenant, not you.

2) Grey is the ultimate neutral color – it literally goes with every décor and color scheme.

3) Grey is a “clean” color.  Its use will make any space appear cleaner and better lit.

4) Grey is the color language of this period.  It indicates that your unit is up to date.

5) Most of the new, high-end apartment buildings downtown are using grey in the units and common space.  It looks “new”, and by association is an inexpensive way to make your older place look newer too.

Finding the right grey can be difficult. There are tons of grey variations, so what you need is a good way to visualize them.  I start out at the Sherwin Williams web site.  This site not only has good visualization and selection tools, but Sherwin Williams paint codes have become a standard in the industry and can be made by most paint outlets, including the big-box improvement stores.   This means that you can use those inexpensive paint samples from Home Depot and test 4 or 5 colors for less than $20.

Over the years, I’ve come across several grey and grey variations that have become my “go-to” colors, and I would recommend them to you as a good place to start. The first goal of any good grey to add warmth without getting too brown.  If this is what you are looking for, start off at the “Greige” (Grey + Beige) color family.  I like “Agreeable Grey SW-7029”


Agreeable Grey is a good “starter grey’, and shouldn’t scare you too much.  It is warm, light and clean, without being too edgy.  If you feel the need to push your comfort level a bit, and really want to embrace the grey, try Chatroom SW6171.  (What name could be more Millennial than Chatroom?)


The visualizer provides a representation of what the color will look like on the walls of a generic living room and indicates a number of Coordinating and Similar colors.  Selecting one of these colors will take you to a new visualizer, giving you the ability to see the same room in a variety of shades and values.  Note your favorite 4 or 5, drive to Home Depot and buy samples to try on your wall.  I bet one of them will be perfect!

The Sherwin Williams web site has lots of other tools to let you see and explore colors and get inspiration. I certainly could not have come up with any of these schemes, but some of them would work perfectly in my units.


Last week, Sherwin Williams announced the 2017 “Color of the Year” – Poised Taupe SW6039.  While I personally think this color might be a bit too dark for a lot of spaces, it does indicate that the trend for warm grey tones has continued much longer than many had expected.  It should also give you the confidence you need to make a bold decision and choose GREY


About the Author

Mike O'Neal

As a is a licensed Real Estate Broker and downtown Denver resident, Mike is an enthusiast of the urban lifestyle and desires to make high quality, downtown properties available to those who prefer to rent. He has always enjoyed finding, renovating and maintaining his own rental homes and is now offering his Property Management expertise to other owners and investors.Mike takes pride in making sure each tenant has a clean, comfortable and safe place to live…and works closely with his owner clients to ensure that their investment is marketed effectively and maintained to the highest standards.Mike has a Master in Architecture from NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego, CA recently joined Cliffdwellers Real Estate because of their expertise in the Denver urban core neighborhoods and demonstrated commitment to provide investors and tenants with exceptional service.

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