5 colors that will make your living room feel happier, according to interior designers

Create an uplifting feel in your living room with these expert-approved colors

living rooms with happy paint colors
(Image credit: Damien Langlois-Meurinne Studio | Glidden | Farrow & Ball)

The living room, often the heart of the home is a social space that is designed for relaxing and entertaining guests in equal measure. When it comes to choosing the best paint colors to adopt in the living room, it can be difficult to know where to start.

While it's important to opt for a color palette that is personal to you and reflects your own interior taste, it's also important to choose colors that feel happy and promote an uplifting feel, somewhat setting the mood for the rest of the home. 

Fear not: happy colors do not just mean bright and bold hues, there are in fact a whole host of unexpected colors that will make the living room feel happy, according to the design and color experts.

5 colors to make a living room feel happier

Whether you prefer muted hues or enjoy injecting a splash of playful color into your living room decor, experts explain how these colors can boost your mood whilst looking timeless in the home. 

We've rounded up the five best living room color ideas that are guaranteed to create a happy feel. 

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1. Warm oranges and corals

orange living room with cream sofa and curtains

(Image credit: Damien Langlois-Meurinne Studio)

'Adding a splash of color to the living room doesn’t need to be daunting,' says Benjamin Moore's director of color marketing Helen Shaw. 'Warm and earthy tones such as terracotta and coral will naturally bring a zest and sense of energy to a room.'

It may seem like a bold choice, but decorating with orange and coral hues in the living room will no doubt uplift the home. Orange hues are known to signify positivity and experts recommend them for their energizing qualities.  

'If you’re looking for a mood-boosting color, brighter shades can feel dynamic and bring more energy into a space,' agrees Behr's color expert Erika Woelfel.

When finding the perfect orange-toned hue, opting for a muted and earthy variation will make styling the rest of the room around this shade easier while still benefitting from the color's unique uplifting quality. Woelfel recommends Behr's Amber Brew or Orange Flambe as a starting point. 

Helen Shaw
Helen Shaw

Helen Shaw is the olor expert and international marketing director at Benjamin Moore. Helen and her husband Craig are also founders of Shaw Paints, which was acquired by Benjamin Moore in 2020.

2. Soft pinks

soft pink living room

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

For a warming and cozy feel, opting for a pink living room is an excellent choice. While you may find the hot pinks associated with the Barbiecore trend too daring, earthy shades of pink are just as effective in creating a balanced yet happy feel. 

'For somewhere to switch off, read a book on your squishy sofa, or catch up on your favorite drama, look to an earthy pink for your walls,' suggests color consultant at Farrow & Ball Patrick O'Donnell. 'Farrow & Ball's Setting Plaster is just the ticket with its delicate brown notes and utterly soothing feel.'

Image of Patrick O’Donnell
Patrick O’Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell is Farrow & Ball's color consultant & brand ambassador and has been with the brand since 2012. Patrick works with designers in the UK and North America, helping to bring their projects alive with the iconic, F&B color palette.

3. Uplifting yellows

Living room with yellow sofa, and yellow painted window frames

(Image credit: Tim Salisbury)

When we think about happy colors and dopamine decor, yellow tends to be the color that comes to mind first. While it can be seen as a difficult hue to integrate into home decor thanks to its boldness, color experts suggest that with the right styling, yellow can work really well in the living room, and is of course guaranteed to create a happy feel.

'Yellows are known to lift a mood and evoke a feeling of warmth and joy,' says Shaw. 'For something a little more trend-led, consider painting just one wall in a bright yellow and then a tonal hue or white for the upper wall which will keep the space feeling fresh and open.'

If you're not convinced to fully commit to decorating with yellow in the living room, Shaw suggests instead using this vivid hue as a more subtle accent color: 'Alternatively, use this happy color as an accent or highlight architectural features for a more subtle approach.' 

4. Earthy greens

Living room with gray-green walls and statement artwork

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Decorating with green may sound bold, but there's a whole spectrum of shades to choose from. It's a color that's strongly associated with nature, and it's well known that having links to nature in the home creates a happier feeling and lifts the mood. With so many variations of the color green to choose from, experts agree that dark forest greens and soft, muted hues will both create the same happy feeling. O'Donnell also recommends pairing green colors with a soft shade of white for the best result. 

'To give the room a nice counterbalance try Card Room Green on all your woodwork – doors, skirting, and windows – and then choose a nuanced white for your ceiling, nothing too sharp. Shadow White would be a perfect balance for the main colors,' suggests O'Donnell.

For a more subtle approach to decorating with green in the living room, Ashley McCollum, color expert at PPG's Glidden suggests using muted pistachio hues that she notes work very well in rooms that are lacking in natural light, such as Glidden's Whispering Pine.

Ashley McCollum
Ashley McCollum

Ashley McCollum is a Marketing Manager and color expert for PPG’s Architectural Coatings business in the U.S. and Canada. Prior to joining PPG in 2017, Ashley's career was heavily focused on color and visual merchandising for retail environments. Ashley earned her MBA in Marketing/Management from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.

5. Classic neutrals

Neutral living room with modern taupe furnishings

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki / Future)

For those who are more inclined towards minimalist interior decor, experts agree that decorating with neutrals can be equally effective in creating a happy feel in the living room. Choosing pared-back colors as a base for the room means you can be more experimental with other decor elements throughout the room, and sets a relaxed and calming atmosphere that's key to feeling happy. 

McCollum is an advocate for choosing understated neutrals in the living room, explaining: 'A lighter hue like Limitless provides a fresh and energizing take on a neutral color. This color adds brightness to the deep, warm, and cool tones of the season.'

To complete the look, McCollum advises that 'gold or bronze finishes pair beautifully with neutral shades.'


Should I paint my living room dark or light?

While you may naturally think of light living room ideas as being more happy, dark living rooms can be just as uplifting. 'Don’t rule out dark colors either,' suggests O'Donnell.

For small living rooms that don't have lots of natural light, opting for dark paint colors can make the space feel cozy and inviting, as O'Donnell explains: 'Even for north-facing spaces, dark paint colors can work a treat with restricted natural light.'

What is the best type of paint for living room walls?

Choosing the paint finish of your chosen color depends on your personal preferences. Satin and gloss paints reflect the room's natural light and can create a more striking effect, whereas flat paint has a matte finish and is known to be good at covering holes in the wall, such as from hanging artworks or pictures, which can make it a good option for the living room.

For somewhere in between the two, opt for eggshell paints which have a subtle sheen to them. 

There's no doubt that color affects our mood, so when designing your living room it's important to carefully consider your paint colors based on the mood you want to create. For a happy living room, it's all about having fun with the colors that bring you the most joy, so have fun with creating a colorful living room to ensure a positive outcome. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.