Colorful living room ideas are on the rise as more and more of us grow in color confidence and seek out bold ways of decorating to make our homes stand out from the crowd.
As spaces where we relax, but also welcome guests, living rooms are wonderful places to showcase your personal style and set the tone for the rest of the house. While opting for one living room color idea is a great way to create unity and calm, increasingly we're seeing homeowners and interior designers experimenting with bold color combinations for their living room ideas, or choosing a neutral backdrop for layering vibrant prints and colorful furniture.
Whether you're looking for full room color ideas or simply looking to add some bold accents to lift an existing scheme, we've rounded up an array of fresh colorful living room ideas guaranteed to inspire, alongside some handy expert advice on how to decorate with color.
Colorful living room ideas
Introducing colorful living room ideas can be daunting as there are a dazzling array of ways to embrace colorful decorating ideas, from vibrant living room paint ideas and wallpaper ideas to living room furniture ideas.
Learning how to use the color wheel can and familiarising yourself with living room trends can be helpful for working out what colors go together. However, when it comes to color combinations for rooms, many interior designers advise to trust your intuition and choose the colors that you love.
'I find working with color particularly rejuvenating. Putting different combinations of colors together makes me feel happy and some just make my heart sing – it’s important to find the colors and combinations that bring you joy,' says fabric and wallpaper designer Molly Mahon (opens in new tab).
1. Choose the colors you love
When it comes to family room paint ideas don't be afraid to follow your heart advises Molly Mahon. 'My reaction to color is very instinctive and I allow this instinct to shape my design decisions. I’m very inspired by the creative fearlessness that Vanessa Bell embraced when creating a home at Charleston and I’ve taken this liberating approach in my own home,' says the fabric and wallpaper designer.
'Being bold has enabled me to decorate in a way that reflects the true personality of my family to create a home where we all feel able to create, reflect, relax and grow. I followed my heart to do what feels right for our house – whether that means painting the fireplace, embellishing a cupboard door, or printing fabric for my living room curtains.'
2. Get creative with paint
Paint is a quick and easy way to create a head-turning look in a living room, but it can also serve as a clever visual device. It's well known that light colors will make small living rooms feel larger and rich, dark colors will help bring the walls in for a cozy feel, but why not team the two for an exciting, bold look?
As well as being fun and eye-catching, color-blocking the wall with a lighter shade over a deeper shade is a great way to break up the walls of large living rooms, helping them feel more intimate and cozy. Above the new Bamboozle (bottom) and Templeton Pink (top) shades by Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) bring warmth and a playful twist to this traditional living room.
3. Take care with tone
Interior designer Susan Deliss (opens in new tab) is another champion of decorating with the colors you love. 'Don't pay too much attention to rules about color wheels and pink not going with green or other conventions. Do what pleases you or your client and what suits the property you are working on,' she says.
However, she does advise to take care with the tone of the colors you choose. 'Don't go for the brightest color on the card – unless you are somewhere with brilliant sunlight like India, it's best to tone color down a bit.
'In a sunny climate, you can probably get away with pairing acidic greens and cobalt blues for example but in an English country house, it’s important to rein things in and look at greens and blues from nature for inspiration.’
4. Introduce colorful accents
Adding soft furnishings and accessories in bold accent colors is a fabulous way to bring life to a living room decorated in a single color, as demonstrated in this beautiful blue living room by Barlow & Barlow.
'Using different shades of blue, including sky and navy, add a real depth and richness to a room. Bold, impactful and elegant navy is also known to be a calming hue making it a great choice for a living room,' says Lucy Barlow, founder and creative director of interior design studio, Barlow & Barlow (opens in new tab) . 'Adding accents of red or pink help soften and warm up as space, and we love adding a cozy window blind idea in a fun print to enhance the atmosphere.'
5. Make a lasting impression with contrasting colors
Using a more unusual color pairing in a room will alter the atmosphere in the space, explains interior decorator Nicola Harding, founder of Nicola Harding & Co (opens in new tab). ‘The greater the degree of contrast there is, the more drama there is in the room and when there is less contrast, the space is calmer,’ says Nicola. 'As a general rule of thumb, you want to include high contrast when you want a dynamic, high-energy feeling.'
6. Use pattern as a starting point
Pattern plays a leading role in living room schemes designed by Turner Pocock (opens in new tab). ‘Our starting point is always a pattern with at least three colors in it,’ explain co-founders Bunny Turner and Emma Pocock. ‘It can be a floral, geometric, ikat or stripe and it can come from something as small as a cushion or a large-scale fabric for a sofa, but it will form the basis of our scheme.'
7. Choose a colorful wallpaper
A living room wallpaper is a fabulous way to bring color into a space. A mural or a large-scale design can make a bold statement but is not for everyone. For something that's easy to live with choose a small-scale repeat design such as the joyful Honeysuckle design from Jane Churchill in this yellow living room idea.
Setting it within wall paneling will also help calm the look. While this paper appears sunshine yellow at first glance, it does in fact have an array of colors within it including pink and red which have here been drawn out as accent colors and used on the upholstery to create a playful contrast.
8. Mix and match colorful living room furniture
To liven up this wood-clad living room, interior designer Anne Hepfer created a playful focal point with an assortment of living room seating and furniture in contrasting colors, bold prints and sculptural shapes.
'My clients spent years painstakingly restoring the nineteenth-century home, and my mandate, once I arrived on the scene, was to fill the rooms with vibrant hues,' says Anne Hepfer (opens in new tab). 'The timing was perfect: I’d just come back from three weeks in India, so the colors and hand-blocked fabrics I learned about there were my guiding principle. These people are fun, eclectic, and even a little outrageous; they move up here for the summer and their cottage hums with kids, cats, and dogs. Their favorite colors are green and raspberry, so that became the jumping-off point for the preppy-boho getaway of their dreams.'
9. Bring softness with colorful fabrics
If you love the idea of a colorful living room but are cautious of using flat, bold hues then try decorating with colorful fabrics with small-scale patterns for a softer look.
The new Scall Prints collection from Linwood (opens in new tab) features 10 ditsy repeat designs perfect for layering across curtains and upholstery to achieve a relaxed colorful look. Here a curtain in Hopscotch is paired with a sofa in the Garden Gate stripe and an ottoman in the painterly trellis print, Maypole.
‘Small-scale designs offer such versatility, they look great on their own or are ideal for tempering larger-scale patterns to create an interesting, layered scheme,’ says John Smigielski, marketing director at Linwood (opens in new tab).
10. Customize furniture
Decorative painting on furniture is a big trend right now and we're seeing freehand folksy designs in particular cropping up everywhere. Not only is upcycling furniture a wonderful way to create a unique statement piece for your home but it also saves unwanted furniture going to landfill.
In this painted furniture idea the team at Annie Sloan transformed an old cabinet using her chalk paint with a bold bird design. 'Going freehand means you can let your creativity run wild. However it can be intimidating. The biggest challenge is building your confidence, so get familiar with your brush and plan out designs beforehand. My top tip is to use small amounts of paint at a time for cleaner lines and more control,' says Annie Sloan.
How can I make my living room colorful?
Painting the walls in a vibrant shade or introducing creative paint ideas is a quick way to make a lasting impression. Alternatively, a beautiful wallpaper with multiple colors can make a wonderful starting point for a color scheme, as can a vibrant living room rug.
'We are seeing people embracing bolder, more colorful designs and pairing these with both co-ordinating highlight colors on walls and woodwork, such as ‘Brodsworth’ wallpaper with ‘Marine Blue’ paint, as well as bolder schemes which use contrasting woodwork colors,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene (opens in new tab) on decorating with wallpapers. 'A bright yellow can work fantastically well with deep blue or indigo tone wallpapers, transforming what might feel like a traditional wallpaper into a more contemporary design statement.'
For a more flexible approach to decorating try decorating with neutrals on walls and floors and introducing color through furniture, homewares, lighting, accessories and artwork.
'For me, art isn’t just the ‘finishing touch’ in a home. Art can really help to define the feel of a space and be really transformative. As well as complementing a design scheme, it can also be the starting point for interior design, with the scheme taking its cues from the colors of a piece of art,' says Helen Armon-Jones, founder, The Art Buyer (opens in new tab).
Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.
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