Using Paint to Trump Architectural Challenges

March 9, 2007
These simple, easy steps will ensure that you not only attract more tenants and customers, but that you will retain them as well

By James Martin

By now, everyone in the industry realizes that appearance counts. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

It’s important to approach the painting of a building not as a maintenance project, but as an opportunity to enhance the overall appeal of your building. Paint is your best marketing dollar - use it to bring people in, enhance your building’s assets, and overcome building challenges.

Setting the Environment
While it is important to look different from your competition, it is equally important to feel different as well. The key to making a building feel comfortable is to use warm colors - colors that relate to nature and the organic materials used in your building materials, like brick and stone. Another key element in creating this feel is to eliminate the use of white. White is harsh and cold. Supplant it with off-white or cream to take the hard edge off and make your buildings feel softer and more comfortable.

Eliminate Dark Spaces
A second area that is often overlooked is the elimination of dark spaces.

All too often, interior spaces are left in dark shadows with poor lighting, creating a feeling of depression. Eliminating this problem and creating a pleasant environment can directly translate into tenant retention or more customers. To accomplish this, always paint ceilings a warm cream color, enhance lighting, and, if necessary, change the interior wall colors to a lighter value of the exterior color. In fact, always paint any overhead surface a light color, as this reflects more light into the building.

Windows and Doors
Another vital tip also concerns the use of light colors. Always paint your window trim in a light color. Dark windows make small rooms look dark and closed up. Simply painting window surrounds a light cream, for instance, will give potential tenants the impression that the windows are large and that the room is sunny and light inside.

Doors simply couldn’t be more important. Every day, the use of the door is how your tenants/occupants “shake hands” with you. If the door is chipped, dirty, or dented, it tells them that you don’t care. If the door is freshly painted in shiny, high-gloss paint and the trim is clean and bright, it reinforces the understanding that your building is different.

These simple, easy steps will ensure that you not only attract more tenants and customers, but that you will retain them as well. People may not notice exactly what you have done, but they will feel it. And, today, feelings drive people’s actions.

James Martin is the owner of Denver-based The Color People (, a specialty company of architectural colorists.

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