5 Paint Colors That Make Your Home Look Dirty

Here are five paint color pitfalls, and how to avoid them.

Farrow-&-Ball's-Sulking-Room-Pinkvia Farrow & Ball

Housekeeping is hard enough — you don’t need your paint to make your room look dirty or dingy. Picking the right paint (with the right undertone) is your best strategy for success. Here are five color pitfalls, and how to avoid them.

White paintSally Anscombe/Getty Images

Warm White

Any white with a warm undertone can look dingy, especially in the wrong light. Consider Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White or Farrow & Ball’s All White, both of which are crisp without being clinical.

Woman sitting on floor, looking at yellow wallTuned_In/Getty Images


It’s tough to pick the right yellow. Too bright and you’ll feel punched in the face. Too pale and it goes dingy, like discolored linen. Many of the soothing, soul-brightening yellows you love actually look creamy-white in the can or on a swatch. Benjamin Moore’s Windham Cream or Mannequin Cream impart a flattering sunny glow without the muddiness.


Builder’s Beige

The neutrals that can help sell a home can also give off a dirty cast. Avoid yellowy or greenish beige or khaki, which don’t cast anyone in a flattering light. If you want a nice neutral, consider something like Sherwin Williams’ Agreeable Gray, which deftly toes the line between taupe and gray.


greenAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Again, those sneaky yellow undertones. Pale greens can sometimes feel like sickrooms, or cast a pallor upon your favorite faces. Instead of worrying about the relative minty-ness or sage-like qualities of light greens, consider cashing in on one of the latest trends, which looks flattering in both modern and historic homes: hunter green.

Try to stay away from the browner undertones (such as Benjamin Moore’s Green Grove or Forest Hills) and opt for something like the deep, bold Chrome Green or the bluish Narragansett Green. Before getting started, see what 5 pros say about where and how to test your paint samples.


Red Sock with Pink LaundryGK Hart/Vicky Hart/Getty Images

Pink can be a struggle. Too light and it feels sickly-sweet. Too muddy, and you guessed it — dirty. But the current pink trend has turned into using pink as a neutral, so choosing the right one may be in your future. Farrow & Ball’s Sulking Room Pink is sophisticated, muted and it has good depth. This is also an appropriate substitute for any terra-cotta tones you’re considering. Find out why pink is considered one of the best paint colors according to science.

It’s Not Always Your Paint

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.