Designers swear by this space-enhancing baseboard painting hack for small living rooms

The overlooked spot in your living room could be the key to making things feel more spacious

green living room with fireplace and grey sofas
(Image credit: Future PLC)

When we're painting a room, the baseboards are generally an afterthought, and we're far more concerned with the color going on the walls. But interior designers say that if we pay a little more attention to these often overlooked areas, we can actually create the illusion of more space. 

Traditionally, baseboards, trims, and doorframes have always been painted white, and while this might be more efficient, being cheaper to buy and apply in bulk, experts say it could be making your small living room look even smaller. Rather than highlighting the edges of your room in a big felt-tip pen, designers suggest erasing them.

How? By painting them the exact same color as your walls.

dark blue living room with blue sofa, chopped fire wood and basket

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Baseboard painting hack for small spaces

'When working with a small space you can reduce the visual breaks by painting the baseboards the same color as the walls,' comments Diana Almeida co-founder & head designer at AI interior design service CoolAIid. 'The fewer visual breaks in a space, the larger it seems. It tricks the eye because the point where things end isn’t as obvious.'

Painting a wall and the baseboards the same color or a very similar color leads the eye up and down the wall rather than around the edges of the room. This can also result in a living room that feels more cohesive because the eye isn't instantly drawn to corners. So when you enter the room, you'll feel like you're in a larger space and you're more likely to be drawn to the furniture, window, fireplace, and whatever else is going on in the middle of the room.

Diana adds that you can go a step further by painting all the trim, doors, and even ceiling the same color. Keeping the floor a similar color also helps, she says. We think this color-drenching technique lends itself really well to small living rooms and bedrooms, too, as it creates a cocooning effect.

living room with mauve gallery wall and pale grey sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC / Jon Day)

Architect Beril Yilmaz from By Design & Viz is also a big fan of this baseboard painting hack. 'Painting baseboards the same color as the walls creates a continuous line around the perimeter of the room,' she says. 'This can give the illusion of more space, as your eye is not interrupted by a different color.

'Another reason why painting baseboards the same color as the wall can make a space feel larger is that it makes the baseboard essentially "disappear". If the baseboard is painted in a similar shade to the wall, it will blend in and not call attention to itself.

Typically, we tend towards paler tones in small spaces as this feels safer, but a mid-tone or dark color can work equally well, creating a space that looks stylish and sophisticated. We'd argue that making sure it's well-lit with stylish small living room lighting is more important than the color palette.

green paneled wall with wood dining table and a floor lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Traditionally, painters and decorators have used white paint on the trim. White paint, of the best paint finishes for trim, is great if you want a crisp, clean finish, and using the same paint throughout the house will work out cheaper. But decorating our homes shouldn't be purely about efficiency but about beauty and warmth as well. 

This baseboard painting hack may not be as relevant to you if you're decorating with neutrals because there's less of a stark contrast between the wall and baseboard color. Painting baseboards white can actually have a lovely effect of bringing out the depth of a taupe, gray or oatmeal, for example. It's down to personal taste, but pairing Hague Blue walls with white baseboards will look more disjointed.

green-gray wall with wood paneling and storage cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What's more, the ideal paint color for your baseboards depends on a few different factors. Benjamin Ibanez, interior designer at FCI London says you should consider the overall style and color scheme of the room, the flooring, and the furniture that you choose. Traditional schemes often have white baseboards so you may want to stick with this, or if you really don't want to repaint anytime soon then white is a versatile option.

There's also the argument that baseboards and door frames painted in white throughout a property have a unifying effect, linking all of the rooms together. If your priority is to find ways to make a small living room look bigger though, this simple baseboard painting hack is one to try.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.