What colors make a living room cozy? Design experts choose these 10 tones for an inviting space

Want to know what colors make a living room cozy? It's not so much the colors as the tones you choose – this is how design experts answer the question

Three living rooms with colors that make a living room cozy
(Image credit: Jake Arnold / Neptune / Future/Simon Bevan)

Wondering what colors make a living room cozy? It’s hard to beat the feeling of contentment that spending time in your cozy space can bring. A cocooning room lets you recharge your batteries, and find sanctuary from the busy world outside.

But it's not so much about choosing colors to make a living room cozy and more about choosing the right tones. Almost any color, even those not traditionally considered as warm, say design experts, can make a living room feel cozy, welcoming, snug and relaxing, providing you choose the right tone of that color. Get it right and you'll create a cozy haven at home, so getting in the know about what the choices are is a must.

Here, we’ve put together design professionals' thoughts on color so that you can create your own cozy living room ideas with confidence.

What colors make a living room cozy?

It may come as a relief to discover that making a living room cozy doesn’t impose a narrow range of color choices. It’s possible to select either lighter tones or a darker palette and still achieve the goal of a snug, relaxing room. Additionally, either all-over color or the right accent shades can deliver fabulous results. This is what the experts say about choosing living room color ideas that hit the right note.

1. Mix brown-gray with natural materials

Painted living room with earthy, natural palette, leather loung chair and wooden coffee table with leather cushion, Moroccan style cream patterned rug

(Image credit: Ti Archive)

Grey living room ideas may not spring to mind when you think 'cozy room decor', but according to Emily Ruff, owner and principal designer of Cohesively Curated Interiors, it's a great accent color idea for cozying up a living room, elegantly, if it is matched equally with warm, natural materials.

‘I love incorporating a dark charcoal, green or navy with lighter neutrals and always including some warmth with wood or leather,’ she says. ‘Vary the types of fabrics on your upholstery to keep things interesting and create a collected and cozy space.’

Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief Lucy Searle adds: 'If you are choosing a cooler cozy color, ensure lighting is good, with lightbulbs that give off a yellow light rather than a bright white one. Following this rule with all other living room colors will only make them feel cozier.'

2. Warm up with spicy brown

Brown room with wooden sideboard and wall hanging

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

Consider decorating with brown on walls to create a cocooning atmosphere in a living room. ‘Dark chocolate hues are a great way to make a room feel cozy, while a pinker-brown can have a warmth and associations of comfort that make it even more appealing,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens.

Combined with other earthy or spice shades, such as cinnamon, turmeric and ochre to boost the coziness.

3. Fall for terracotta

Chelsea Townhouse with bespoke paint finish on walls by Kelling Designs, www.kellingdesigns.com

(Image credit: Chelsea Townhouse with bespoke paint finish on walls by Kelling Designs)

Color that makes a living room cozy can be an accent rather than taking the leading role.

‘Add a warming accent color like terracotta, dark blue or olive green in your soft furnishings and accessories to create the snug environment you’re after,’ suggests Courtney Osborne, interior designer and co-founder of Nixon & Co

In this scheme by Kelling Designs, terracotta decor is used to stunning effect on the floor, toning beautifully with the natural-colored wall paneling ideas.

4. Select earthy blue for the ceiling, too

Living room with neutral sectional and dark blue paint on ceiling, walls and cornice

(Image credit: Q Design House)

Living room paint ideas needn't just be reserved for walls and trim. In fact, matching them to ceiling paint ideas can create a wraparound effect that makes a living room cozy, instantly.

‘In this living room in London’s Notting Hill we painted all the walls, trim, cornicing, ceiling and joinery in Farrow & Ball's De Nimes,’ says BIID registered interior designer Josie Lywood, creative director of  Q Design House. What's more, blues have been named one of the best colors for a living room by paint experts due to its calming, relaxing effects. 

‘This is a deep, earthy blue tone that is really versatile and works beautifully with other blue and green shades. Our client was a bit apprehensive about our choice as the room was quite dark and located on a lower ground floor area of the house. However, the color brought so much coziness to the living room and contrasted really well with the lighter upholstery. 

‘We often like to use darker and moodier colors to make a room cozier – especially when the rooms lack natural light. Painting the ceiling and woodwork in the same color also helps soften the space, especially in the evening alongside soft low level lighting.‘ What's more, blues have been named one of the best colors for a living room by paint experts due to their calming, relaxing effects. 

5. Go for warm white, with strong anchor colors

living room with matching midnight blue couches, black bookcase, artwork, red rug, glass coffee table, yellow armchair

(Image credit: Maestri Studio/Stephen Karlisch)

Dark living room ideas can feel cossetting, but if you want to keep the walls light and bright, combining deep, dark furniture with warm white walls and traditionally cozy-colored furnishings can work well. Think deep green couch living room ideas or rich blue couch living room ideas to bring coziness to a living room.

‘We love to anchor a room with one solid inviting color and intersperse it with soft shades of pillow to allow for the rest of the room to come alive with the different colors and textures of the owner’s collections,’ says BIID registered interior designer Hedayat Taymour, design director at JAM by Hedayat and founding partner at Eklego Design.

6. Play with dirty red-pinks

Family room paint with burgundy color

(Image credit: Earthborn)

Pink living room ideas will feel cozy, and working with this color provides the opportunity to select anything from very pale tints to richer shades and still achieve the desired warmth. If you are decorating a pink room, up the cozy factor by teaming it with yellow – seen here in the couch – for a winning combination

'The warmth of the red pigments in pinks – whether they’re blush, peach or coral tones – will emphasize the richness of yellow,’ advises color and paint expert Annie Sloan. ‘The redder the pink, the greater the feeling of heat and comfort the colors will generate together.’

7. Work with neutrals

Black shelves, green armchairs, orange lamo

(Image credit: Michael Clifford/Jake Arnold)

If decorating with neutrals is your preference, warmth and comfort are still easily achievable, providing you select the right versions for your neutral living room ideas.

‘Use neutrals like warm whites, creams and grays,’ says Amy Youngblood, principal designer of Amy Youngblood Interiors

Or, go all in with color drenching and pick a dark shade to create a cocooning effect, like interior designer Jake Arnold has in this living room.

Be sure to test paints before committing to ensure the selected neutral retains its warmth at different times of the day and in artificial light as well.

8. Consider sage green

Green living room ideas with striped armchair

(Image credit: Future)

Decorating with green? Sage green is an unexpected and effective color choice for a green living room that can prove warm and inviting. 

‘I believe that a strong muted statement color such as a warm sage complemented by leather and fabrics can create a beautiful cozy space to relax after work with your favorite book and a cup of tea,’ says interior architect Simon Abela.  

‘Lots of layering such as blankets and pillows as well as art pieces or ornaments from various travels will instill a good feeling and bring back memories.’

9. Pair deep turquoise with pink

Blue country living room with a beige corner sofa

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

If you like the idea of warming a neutral room without a complete remodel, introduce surprising color combinations for a speedy way to coziness. ‘Muted pink and rich blue are a wonderful combination for making a space decorated in a pale palette feel snug,’ says Lucy Searle.

In this room subtle pink pillows are teamed with a painted feature wall in a blue that has lots of yellow in it, warming the space without compromising its light and airy beach house vibe.

10. Focus on ochre, but think floor colors too

Yellow living room in Saffron by Neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

Don’t forget the floor when it comes to make a living room cozy. Color here doesn’t have to be bold to have a profound influence on the ambience of the space.

‘Rich shades of wood give a room depth and interest, instantly turning it into a cocooning space,’ says Sarah Escott, Amtico design manager. Think oaks with golden tones, or go darker with cocoa shades whether you select a real wood floor or an authentic luxury vinyl tile lookalike for warmth and style underfoot.

What colors bring warmth to a living room?

Colors that bring warmth to a living room tend to be earthy shades, from warm white through to beige, yellow, orange and red. Be inspired by the colors of spices: cinnamon, turmeric and paprika to bring warmth to a living room. But don't ignore traditionally cooler colors, such as green, blue and even gray – if you pick out these colors but look for yellow or earthy tones, your living room will still feel warm. 

What colors are considered cozy?

We tend to see cozy colors as those on the warmer side of the color wheel; they also tend to be saturated with pigment, too. Think deep yellows, earthy oranges, deep red and even metallics like brass and gold. 

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.