5 Ways Real Estate Listings Can Spark Painting Ideas

If you love browsing real estate listings, you’re not alone. “I’m always looking at real estate listings—even now, almost a year past closing,” says Kathleen Luttschyn, a design writer who recently bought a home in River Forest, Illinois.

Home shoppers not only look to other homes for ideas; they also use real estate listings to plan real-life projects. Here are 5 ways to use real estate listings for sourcing color inspiration:

Flip through photos to plan a color scheme

All paint projects should start from a whole-home color palette. This doesn’t mean every room has to be painted the same color, but all the colors should complement each other and feel cohesive as you move from room to room. Gather palette inspiration by quickly flipping through the listing photos of homes you’re considering and noticing how your eye reacts to rooms that don’t fit with the main color scheme. These will be first on your list to update. A light neutral base is a good place to start—it will instantly make the home feel more spacious, giving you a blank canvas to work with and making it easier to move forward with other design decisions.

Look for local inspiration

You can learn a lot about regional architecture and design by browsing the listings in your area. A New England saltbox has a completely different look and feel than a mid-century modern ranch in Palm Springs. In Kathleen’s neighborhood, old Victorian houses and early modern Prairie School buildings are abundant. “Local listings have taught me that I prefer older architecture, a bit of color, and lots of natural light,” says Kathleen.

You also can shop local and ask store experts for advice. All Benjamin Moore retailers are independently owned, so you’re always dealing directly with a local business when you buy. Stop by and quiz them on popular home palettes in your area.

Head straight to the kitchen

Updating your kitchen cabinets with paint is one of the easiest ways to totally transform the look and feel of a space—for less than it costs to install new counters. For ideas, try a few searches for homes with recently renovated kitchens in your area and take note of the cabinet color for inspiration. From bright blues to deep grays, cabinet colors offer an easy way to make an impact, and they can set the tone for the rest of your home.

Find project ideas from the property details

A listing’s romance language will tout its most unique features. (Recently renovated with a home office! Charming garden shed just off the patio!) Look at the photos of these features to see how other homeowners use paint to make their signature spaces sing. And when it comes time to decorate your own house, think about how you want to celebrate your favorite features. Why not add some joy to your workspace with a painted arch or try a bedroom accent wall in lieu of a headboard?

Save your favorites to shop for samples

Listings make it easy to digitally collect photos and mine them for ideas. Once you have a file or pinboard of your favorites, look for recurring colors and start to match them to samples. While photos are a great starting point for inspiration, you won’t really get a feel for a color until you see it in your space. Benjamin Moore now offers peel-and-stick samples, so it’s simpler than ever to try out shades in different rooms and observe them as the light changes through the day.

Browsing listings might be a guilty pleasure, but don’t overlook the value in hunting for ideas while you hunt for a house. You never know when a property might awaken your inner decorator!


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