What color should you not paint your living room? Experts urge us to avoid this one shade

In all its vibrancy, this color could be a mistake – here's why designers and wellbeing experts avoid it in their homes

Living room with bright red walls, a rattan chair and coffee table
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Choosing paint in every room of the home comes with its own individual quirks. In the bedroom, you're likely to choose a hue that feels therapeutic to encourage a peaceful sleep – whereas your home office is likely to want something more energizing. But what about living room paint ideas

The most sociable room of all is vital to get right – not only for your family and guests – but for yourself. It needs to be a tone that is versatile enough to impress friends but also encourages you to unwind on an evening or weekend. And while there are a host of tones that are fit for the assignment, there are also some living room colors to avoid. But which of these colors is the most avoided amongst the experts? 

Designers and color experts agree that red is the worst color for a living room – and their reasons go beyond its bold aesthetic. Here's what you need to know before deciding on your next living room color scheme

Hallway with wooden floor, elaborate cornice and staircase with red carpet.

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

What color should you not paint your living room?

Wellness expert and interior designer Hilda Carroll from Hilda Carroll Holistic Interiors cautions warm, stimulating colors in the living room – and red is at the peak of her banned list. 

'Red is the most stressful color,' she warns. 'It is associated with both passion and anger. It can stimulate heat and isn’t a great choice for rooms where we want to relax.'

'In a space where you want to enjoy lively conversations, red can be helpful. But be careful not to go too intense with it – those lively conversations could escalate into arguments. Again, not the best option for your living room.'

Simran Kaur, the Founder of Room You Love, agrees. She, too, emphasizes the color's ability to trigger our physical or mental energy – meaning we will either feel infuriated' or too full of energy. 'Since red is a color that causes anxiety and triggers all those unwanted [feelings] in our body, you never want to have a lot of it around.'

Family room ideas with built-in cabinet storage

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

What colors should you never paint your walls?

Red is the worst choice for walls, but if you love red, you can still flirt with it in other ways. Hilda suggests injecting pockets of red in your living room ideas, such as through some furnishings, artwork, or other accessories. However, she always avoids large surface areas, including, most prominently, the wall. 

'Painting the walls in these colors would create a lively background, making it difficult to unwind and relax in the space,' she says. 

Living room with bright red walls, a rattan chair and coffee table

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Which color is best for living rooms?

Decorating with red comes with a warning, but which hues are better suited to your living room? Hilda urges us to opt for biophilic colors that induce calm and relaxation, such as cooler greens or blues. Alternatively, you could look for more pastel versions of your favorite color. 

'You can still bring in the warmth of reds, yellows, and oranges, but it’s better to do this in more subtle ways,' she says. 'That way, they add a little lively stimulation but allow for the overall atmosphere to be calm and relaxing.'

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.