5 colors to avoid in your family room – according to designers and paint experts

From bright white to steel gray – these sought-after hues are best left beyond the busiest room of your home

Gray painted living room space wit large bay windows, cream sofa and lounge chair with black frames and green and blue patterned cushions, dark wood flooring, leaning floor lamp over sofa with beige-colored shade, black fireplace with metallic rounded mirror, shelving units with decorative objects
(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

The family room, otherwise known as the living room’s lighthearted sibling, is quickly becoming a household must-have. Whether you’re using the space as an entertainment hub for your children or as a space to unwind in therapeutic activities, finding the right family room ideas for your home is an increasing priority. And nothing impacts the room quite like color. 

When planning how to design a family room, its paint color will be at the top of your priority list, and all for a good reason. Your room color ideas impact the light levels, style, and atmosphere of a family space, just like every other area of your home. So, it’s essential to get them right. The best place to begin? By avoiding these popular shades, say color experts.  

5 colors to avoid in your family room

While decorating with white and some tones of gray are at the top of color trends this season, they are better left outside your family room. Here are the five hues that experts are avoiding. 

1. Dark green

Green hallway with painted green walls, daybed with wooden frame and green cushions, abstract artwork on walls in blue and pink, green patterned rug, black floor lamp beside daybed

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

Dark green is having more than a moment in various rooms around the home – whether through kitchen cabinetry or green bedroom ideas. However, in all its organic goodness, green room ideas are less suitable for family rooms despite being one of the best colors for a living room for a relaxing space.

'Dark green is a contemplative color, more suited for libraries, bedrooms, and even, dare I say, guest bathrooms,' says designer Melanie Thomas from Melanie Thomas Design. This is because it can 'appear dingy,' and often, the natural light does 'not play well alongside its dark tones. 

2. Bright white

Living room with decorated coving, parquet flooring and fireplace. Large mirror over the mantelpiece, blue soft furnishings and animal skin rug.

(Image credit: Ti Archive)

'One surprising color people should avoid for their family room is bright white,' says Stefan Bucur from Rhythm of the Home. But why does he caution against this family room favorite? 'It might seem a bit controversial, but bright white can make a room feel sterile and not welcoming,' the designer says. 

However, avoiding bright white does not mean you must entirely stay away from white room ideas. The expert urges you to invest in an eggshell or cream-white to add a bit of warmth to your family room without feeling too clinical. 

3.  Deep reds

Bookshelf ideas for living rooms with red bay window bookshelves

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lewis)

Deep red knows how to make a statement in a room, but the experts caution against choosing red room ideas for your family room.  

'Deep reds are overbearing and can be extremely distracting,' warns Geoff Sharp, the President at Sharper Impressions Painting. And he is not alone in his warning. Melanie similarly urges against this rich shade, adding that – while it 'energizes and invigorates' – it also 'increases aggressiveness and ability to focus.'

Instead, Geoff recommends experimenting with red through other decorating ideas such as pillows or drapes. This will allow you to play with red in a softer way. 

4. Steel grey

Mantel decor with grey wall and mirror

(Image credit: Future)

When planning a color scheme, you would be forgiven for thinking that grey living room ideas can do no wrong. However, just as the experts suggest avoiding bright white for its sterile aesthetic, steel grey has a similar effect. 'This color is very cold and sterile and does not stimulate conversation or openness,' Melanie warns. 

5. Mustard yellow

Curtains in a yellow room with sideboard

(Image credit: Future)

Mustard yellow radiates positivity, and it's right on trend – but experts warn against introducing yellow room ideas into your family space. '[Yellows] are overly cheery and [appear] too much for a large room,' Geoff says. Instead, he suggests choosing a softer shade that leans more white or cream with a hint of yellow.

Stefan Bucur adds that – while yellow is in vogue – it may not be the best color for a 'timeless' family room, as this hue could 'quickly fall out style.'

What color should you not paint your family room?

'There are no hard and fast rules as to colors to avoid in a family room,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'And it does, to an extent depend on what you do in your family room, when you do it, your room's orientation and how much light it gets naturally. Plus, of course, the atmosphere you want to create. However, it's likely that you'll want to create a space that feels calm and relaxing, even if it's used for family games' nights or parties, so choosing tones that are at the muted end of the color wheel will be better than going for bold primaries, for example. In other words, pick a color you love, then tone it right down, adjusting to suit light levels.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.