Top tips (and mistakes to avoid) for exteriors, kitchens, and even ceilings—whether you're getting ready to sell or just freshening up.

When it comes to selling your house, there’s no denying the importance of making a good first impression. That starts with your home’s interior and exterior paint, from the colors to the quality to the finishes. We asked top realtors and home stagers across the country for their best advice on how to maximize home value with paint. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Exteriors look best with multiple colors.
A home's exterior is typically the first thing potential buyers see, and realtors tend to agree that this initial encounter is a top driver for sales. With that in mind, the Paint Quality Institute sought to pinpoint what makes for a good exterior paint job. Their finding: multiple colors up the curb appeal. While a single shade can easily carry an indoor space, the large, varied surfaces of a home exterior require a more layered palette to create visual interest.

2. The right shade can increase your square footage.
Ok, ok. Paint can't actually make a room bigger. But a 2016 survey of interior decorators conducted by Trulia found that certain colors can reliably give the illusion that a room is bigger than it actually is. The tried and true favorites? Airy neutrals such as Cloud White by Benjamin Moore, Swirling Smoke by PPG Paints, and Skylight by Farrow & Ball. Another designer trick for making a space feel bigger: painting the walls and trim the same color.

3. Red is a turn-off. (Except on front doors!)
Red may evoke all-American favorites such as cherry pies and one-room-schoolhouses, but when it comes to interiors, it tends to get an F with potential home buyers. "Dominant colors are more likely to alienate," explains Pam Hopgood of Perfect Match Homes, a home staging firm in Florida. "With red being especially fiery and assertive, it's the most difficult for buyers to look past." The one spot where red is favorable? Front doors, where it is a classic choice with nearly universal appeal. (Red entrances are even part of the architectural vernacular in places as disparate as Scotland and Japan.)

4. Ceilings shouldn't be neglected.
The oft-overlooked surface can have a serious impact on a buyer's overall impression of a space. "A freshly painted, bright white ceiling can make a room feel lighter and the ceilings higher," explains Santa Barbara-based agent Nick Svensson of Compass. With buyers constantly on the hunt for airy spaces and ample light, this is a serious plus.

Related: Is DIY Painting Worth It?

5. You can't beat a white kitchen.
Pick up any home decor magazine (may we suggest Coastal Living!) and you'll see that white kitchens reign. Realtors agree that the fresh look, which makes it easy for homeowners to incorporate their own accent colors, is tops when it comes to resale. Many site the National Kitchen & Bath Association's annual survey, which in 2017 once again found white to be the kitchen color of choice.