Charleston, SC Posts


Do I really have to paint?

The biggest resistance to staging recommendations usually surrounds painting.  It is interesting to me that sellers resist painting and then they wonder why a buyer can't overlook it.  Fact of the matter is that painting is tedious work and buyers don't want to think about all the work that have to do to move into a house.  The reason why you don't want to do it is exactly why you need to do it. 

Which living room is more cozy and inviting? 

staging living room before                staging living room afterAFTER








This is the same exact living room.  The yellow on the walls was pretty bright (visualize school bus yellow).  Painting the walls and adding punches of colors with the pillows gives this room a different look.  The seller also used slip covers on the couches and rearranged the furniture per our stager, Melissa Marro's recommendations.  The look and feel of the room is transformed!

The master bedroom was painted a very trendy green.  It might not be for everyone, but a painting it a more neutral color makes this room more of a relaxing retreat.  The seller also reoriented the furniture and added some nice accessories. 

Which master bedroom feels more relaxing?


staging master bedroom before


            staging master bedroom after    







The seller of this Summerville, SC home didn't resist the painting recommendations. Interestingly after the changes were made, they were pleasantly surprised that they enjoyed it very much.  Kudos to them for being willing to make the changes!


Michele Reneau - Military Relocation Specialist with Carolina One Real Estate in Charleston, SC.

Contact Michele Reneau, Top Real Estate Agent, North Charleston, SC Relocation Expert, CRS, GRI, ABR. Licensed Realtor® in South Carolina at 843-572-0518 to list your property for sale or to purchase real estate in Charleston, Goose Creek, Summerville, North Charleston, Hanahan, Mount Pleasant and the surrounding areas in Charleston County, Berkeley County or Dorchester County, South Carolina.  Featured on HGTV's House Hunters. Publisher/Author for Charleston Real Estate Update  including featured listings and sold properties, and monthly statistics on Charleston Real Estate MarketRESA 2009 Staging Realtor of the Year Nominee. The Charleston Relocation Expert specializes in military relocation, first time homebuyers and creating marketing exposure to sell your home in the Charleston SC Real Estate market.  I can also be contacted by email at To view all Charleston Metro area houses for Sale Click Here and then click on Search for Homes.  With over 25 years of Lowcountry Living, I know the Charleston Metro area. I will help you get your home sold and/or help you buy your Charleston home or land.


Michele Reneau, ABR, GRI, CRS

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Comment balloon 20 commentsMichele Reneau • March 23 2009 12:48PM


It is time consuming to paint, but it's also the quickest way to update a "look", and the results are as dramatic as your photos show.   

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) over 10 years ago

Painting is the best, economical way to update.  I personally can see beyond something like paint color , especially if I feel I can get a better buy.  But I'm amazed at how few people can over look simple things. It does give a certain feel to a home.

Posted by Shelly Fisher, Property Specialist - Lake Burton Club, Rabun County (Lake Burton Club Realty-Clayton Ga) over 10 years ago

Michele, it's amazing what paint can do to a room. Knowing this six years ago we painted every room of our older home a neutral color before we put it on the market. It sold in 6 days, funny thing was we found out at closing that the buyer was a painter by trade and the last thing he wanted to do was by a home that needed painting.

Posted by Tad Petersen / Home Inspector, Mpls (Safeguard Home Inspections, Inc.) over 10 years ago

No, sellers don't have to paint, and they don't have to sell.  But if sellers want to compete in today's market they must do whatever it takes to rise above the competition.  Painting a room can be done in a day, including moving furniture, etc.  It's a small price to pay to increase the chance of selling.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru ( over 10 years ago

Michele ~ You wrote, "The reason why you don't want to do it is exactly why you need to do it." 

It would be great if more home sellers would realize that painting is an easy, cost-effective and quick way to update their home before selling.  Most buyers today just want move-in ready condition, including fresh paint and well-presented rooms that showcase the space and the home's special features.

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging that Sells Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) over 10 years ago

I always enjoy the "before and after" photos.  Nice job!  I wish I could get all Seller's to paint in neutral colors...  Biggest bang for the buck out there.

Posted by Margaret Mitchell, Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty) over 10 years ago

Thanks for the great post! Your photos are worth a million words!

Good Luck!

Posted by Linda Just, SFR (Leibowitz Realty Group - Palm Beach Gardens, FL) over 10 years ago

It also seems that people listen to a stager a little more than to anyone else.  It is easy, but it is a PIA to paint.  we all need that kick in the rump to get our lazy butts in gear some times!  and in this market you need to make your home stand out!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 10 years ago

Michele - They did a great job overall with the changes (though those curtains were NOT on my recommendation list, oh well).... the biggest and most important changes, as you posted were the paint color choices.  In this particular case, boring vanilla was a much better choice!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 10 years ago

hi, Michele:

I always promote painting - with a "but..."  There are a lot of new homes available in our area and every one uses the same palette: Summertime for walls and White Chip for trim.  For a few dollars more the sellers can get better quality paint and choose from many warm colors. I am really pushing owners to separate themselves from the Builder Beige Box and avoid the Vanilla.

Like Melissa just said, Boring Vanilla was a much better choice than they had originally.  But beware white-washing too much! 

The Stage Coach Home Staging



Posted by Michael Fontana, @ The Stage Coach (Round Rock Home Stager Austin Home Staging) over 10 years ago

Li-A small price to paint for a different look!

Shelly-I agree with you. I think I can too, but most buyers can't.

Tad-I guess it's like a chef coming home to cook dinner after working all day.  Very few people LIKE to paint.

John-Perfectly said!

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) over 10 years ago

Maureen-Thankfully, these sellers are very aware of their new construction competition.

Margaret-I've been showing my client before and after photos, then ask the questions: which room would you prefer?

Robert-That's why my stager partner is so important. I think it always comes across from a 3rd party. I think every realtor should have a stager as part of their team.

Melissa & Michael-I think the flash on my camera might wash the color out. The walls are actually a light, very warm beige color.  Probably more noticeable in person.

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) over 10 years ago

I agree it is the "biggest bang for the buck"...albeit time consuming it really does make the difference...great pictures.

Posted by Liz Gallagher, Montreal Quebec RESA member (LG Home Harmony - Home Stagers & Organizers ) over 10 years ago

I would rather paint than take down wall paper.  I promote painting as many of you do.  If some homeowners would realize that painting changes the mood, atmosphere as well as removes odors.

Posted by Teresa J. Ramey (ReDecorating with Style) over 10 years ago

Hi Michele,

Painting is a cheap, totally transforming, and easy DIY upgrade!

Those boring colors allow the buyer to better imagine thier own furniture and art (with their own palette of colors!) & to allow for more offers from a wider pool of buyers.

When owners see brick red foyers, sage green dining rooms and that popular pale smoky blue gray in the bedroom, it looks current and exciting. But a buyer, well, they may very well have an entirely different style of furnishings and artwork, and they are looking for a home that will work with their belongings.

There are 10,000 colors just waiting to be discovered  at the local hardware store. You don't have to use the exact same colors as everyone else, but toning down on the palette and firm up the possibility of an expedited sale.

And, by using "scrubbable", low VOC paint by a major brand, such as Benjamin Moore's AURA, you can add that to the spec sheet for the house as an UPGRADE.

It's amazing what paint can do to improve the photographs and spatial perception! I hope you have nothing but fantastic responses with your lovely, clean, and most of all, versatile neutral palettes in all your listings!


Posted by Michelle Molinari, Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts (FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor) over 10 years ago

Do sellers have to paint? No

Are they wise to listen to the home stager suggesting that they create a neutral environment for buyers so they can see if their belongings will fit in the house, do they feel good in the house? Yes.

Sellers can choose not to paint but they will live with longer days on market and lower offers as buyers take off the price to paint.

By leaving the vivid colours sellers will have purchased the most expensive paint they will ever purchase in their lifetime. Vivid colours to do not show well in photos on line. And when over 80 % of buyers are looking online for their next home the decision is simple. Paint!

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 10 years ago

This is another great example of where sellers need a bit of a reality check. Not all buyers want school bus yellow or kelly green on their walls. You want your home to appeal to the largest group of people to attract serious buyers.

I understand that painting can be a pain but if it will get your home sold then it is definitely worth the work! I have even offered to do the work alongside our clients just to insure that it gets done (in an attractive color of course!).

Thanks for sharing, Nicole Weidauer

The Egerer & Weidauer Team, Keller Williams Realty Greater Seattle

Posted by Nicole Weidauer (Keller Williams Greater Seattle) over 10 years ago

Painting is one of the biggest things I do with my properties.  I paid my painter $40,000 last year to remove wallpaper and paint.  To me, it is one of the quickest, best, most economical ways to totally change and update a home...and since my partner (realtor) is on board, we never list anything until it is complete and market-ready.  We're kind of sticklers on that.  I also tell sellers that the more time and money (sometimes I call it pain and suffering) they go through on the front end, the less pain and suffering they will have on the back end. 

Not every realtor is willing to wait a few weeks until all of a project is done.  Many are insecure and afraid that time will lose them the listing.  That hasn't happened to us because not only do I not lose her the listing, but once they are on board with me and hire me, I help secure her the listing.  I also put testimonial letters in my proposals that are recent and from sellers who were skeptics in the beginning and believers in the end...they are a great selling tool because other skeptics will relate. 

I recently finished a job where the large kitchen and eat-in area was all floral wallpaper and the seller was very skeptical about removing it because she and all her friends "loved" it.  I convinced her, removed it, painted it and tweaked some other things in the house.  We put the house back on the market (we got it after it had been on for months and had expired) at a reduced price (because like many, it was also over priced).  We had 3 bids on it in 2 weeks and the seller was happy as a clam.  Yes, the price reduction was key BUT the staging and painting helped minimize or negate ALL objections to this listing.  THAT IS THE GOAL!  I tell sellers that the more checks (objections) buyers can find that go against their house, the more likely they will be to move on.  So, what we do is minimize the checks with the things we can change about the house to overcome objections about the things we cannot change about a house (driveway slope, location, amenities, layout, style, etc.) I love converting skeptics.  They provide the best testimonial letters and are my best word of mouth!    :)

Posted by Sheri Walker (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

I will add that sellers don't really want to do it themselves, so you must solve their problem for them and either subcontract to get it done (if you can do that in your state) or refer to a good, reliable painter who values your business enough to come in and get it done well and quickly.  On most issues, if you just advise sellers to do something THEY WILL NOT DO IT!  I believe that.   You must find a way to help them get it done.  Most people don't know who to call, how to do it, what color to pick and what it should cost.  It is very overwhelming for people to do painting, wallpaper, lighting, flooring, countertops, etc.  You have to be a part of the solution or your staging advice is for naught.  :)

Posted by Sheri Walker (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

Dear Michelle,

Thanks so much for the before and after photos. It makes so much of a difference, especially to Internet buyers. They will scratch a house off a the list in a heartbeat because of bad pictures!


Posted by Barbara Delaney (Park Place REALTORS, Inc.) about 10 years ago

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