Paint Colors That Can Make Your Walls Look Dirty

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

Housekeeping is hard enough—you don’t need your paint to make your room look dingy. Picking the right paint (with the right undertone) is your best strategy for success.

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.


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 imparts a flattering sunny glow without the muddiness. Before you start painting, be sure to read these tips from professional home painters.

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 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.


Again, those sneaky yellow undertones. Pale greens can sometimes 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. Shy 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.


Pink can be a struggle. Too light and it feels 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.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman