Home Guru

Living in a World of Off-White Walls

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By Bill Primavera

In my first New York City apartment, as I recall, my two roommates and I were offered a choice of two colors: a stark white or an off-white. We chose the off-white to protect our eyes from the glare of a stark white.

Each of the several apartments I rented before moving to my own home, were painted the same color of off-white. It was dull, dull, dull, but landlords insisted that we keep it that way, and if we didn’t, we were required to return the apartment walls to their original color before vacating the property.

So for a few years, I lived an off-white existence, until I moved to Westchester to my own 4,000-square-foot home with six bedrooms, which was too big for my needs at the time, having just one child in tow.

Almost as though I was retaliating, I vowed to banish off-white from that home’s color palette. In fact, my wife and I introduced color in patterned wallpaper to every room. It was almost dizzying moving from one room to the next.

But when it came time to sell that house when we downsized, we followed the advice given by any realtor and “de-personalized” our surroundings by having all the wallpaper removed and having all walls painted off-white, with the chair rails painted a baby blue.

By the way, that house was an 18th century historic home loaded with imperfections such as slanting floors, and off-white was preferred as a softening mechanism.

When I moved into my condo at Trump Park, it had already been painted off-white. The color I would have preferred was a warm vanilla ice cream color, but this white was a very cool white, which prompted my longtime painter Joe to say, “This place needs some color,” when he visited us. But, then, that is probably the way most house painters would think, understandably.

There are many shades of off-white, from cream-ish to brown-ish.  But I prefer one we selected for the great room of our country home, which was a pink-ish white. Everybody in the room seemed younger from the flattering light reflection in that room.

I’ve told this story before, but when I was only nine years old, I was thrilled when my parents allowed me to select my own bedroom color at the paint store. At that age, I guess most kids are into primary colors, and I chose blood red (fresh, not dried blood). When my parents put that home up for sale, prospective buyers would exclaim “Wow” when first encountering that room. My mother was convinced that it drove some buyers away. But then again, a quick-fix paint job of a neutral off-white is the easiest way to correct a prior bad decision.

The advantages of painting walls off-white, as opposed to stark white, are that they provide warmth and, rather than the results of choosing a darker color, they don’t clash with anything one is likely to push against them or hang from them. They reflect light and making a room brighter and appear larger than it would be if painted a darker color.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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