Living room color schemes –the best color ideas for living spaces

Decorate with a new living room color scheme that you’ll love for years to come.

The living room is where we spend most of our time in, so it demands a colour scheme that will stand the test of time. Be inspired by these living room color schemes that are guaranteed to add some vibrancy to your interiors.

Choosing which colors to decorate your home with can be daunting – partly because there are so many options available. But knowing what color combinations are guaranteed to look beautiful and being able to select the best hues for your home are not mysterious secret arts – they’re simple skills that we can all learn in just a few small steps.

Becoming your own color consultant is easier than you think, once you’ve mastered the basics of the ‘color wheel’ – a tool professional interior designers use to put together stunning schemes that never fail to impress. It’s time to brush up your skills, get creative with color and transform your home…

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

WHAT ARE GOOD LIVING ROOM COLOR COMBINATIONS?

Trying color combinations together can be tricky, so start by building a complimentary palette of trending tones and classic shades and add accent hues to create bold effects. Consulting basic color theory will ensure your scheme is soothing and that it flows effectively from room to room.

Achieve an exciting scheme by developing unusual color combinations such as pairing two contrasting colors; muted tones will make the balance calmer. Split contrast mixes two closely related and one unrelated color, and for impact use the brightest tone as an accent in cushions or accessories. A monochromatic palette using different shades of the same color can also be effective. Try transferring these applications to door and wall panels, cornicing and dado rails. Play with patterns too. Stripes, squares and spots are all eye-catching effects and adding coordinated wallpapers builds in texture.

To create a tonal scheme, try mixing different tones of the same color together for a multi-layered scheme with lots of depth. Use dark navy blue, pretty cornflower blue, and rich royal blue in equal amounts for a balanced result.

For clever contrasting schemes, choose two contrasting colors for a powerful, vibrant scheme. Ensure you choose colors of a similar depth for bold impact. Indigo blue always works well with sunny yellow.

If you are planning to decorate with a more harmonious interior, combine moody blues with fresh greens for an elegant scheme that channels colors found in the natural world – think of plants and water. Try zesty lime green with rich indigo blue for an up-to-date look.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Helen Cathcart)

For more living room color schemes, see:Living room color combinations – 12 clever color choices for living spaces

1. CREATE A COASTAL SCHEME

Create a living room with the tones of blues taken straight from a sea view. The easiest way to create a living room with a coastal feel is by adding the cool shades of ocean blues. Whether it’s with paint, fabrics or furniture, choose a color that both reflects the tones of the sea and the sky so that it isn’t too bright or too pale. The room won’t feel ‘cold’ if you team it up with sandy beiges and cream colors.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

2. ADD SUNSHINE WITH YELLOW

Use tones of muted yellow in your home to provide a clever mix of brightness and warmth. Mix warm ochre with egg-yolk yellows for a color scheme that will lift your mood. Yellow inspires optimism, creating a summery feel; team it with charcoal and black for modern look. This color is fantastic when mixed with crisp white or warm wood furniture, this spectrum of sunny shades look great with an additional contrast color such as grey, black or duck egg blue.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

3. DECORATE WITH BLACK, WHITE AND A TOUCH OF GREY

Recreate the refined elegance of grand Parisian apartments by decorating with soft muted greys, whites and black. Panelled walls painted soft grey provide a sophisticated backdrop for this scheme, which artfully balances black and white upholstered furniture. Blocks of pattern, in the form or tailored cushions and artwork, add interest and personality to the modern look.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair)

4. GET THE BLUES

Decorate with a palette of blue and white. This combination is often described as the new monochrome, and it is easy to see why. From indigo to navy and cobalt, blue hues sit particularly well together, so offer great scope for pattern mixing. In this living room, cushions with small-scale motifs are successfully combined with robust striped blinds and a bold indigo geometric on the screen. Beloved by ancient Chinese dynasties, the Moors and the Greeks, this enduring color combination takes a fresh, modern feel with the latest indigo textiles, shibori patterns and denim tones.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

See:Living room paint ideas – 17 ways with paint, and your questions answered

5. PAINT IN CARNIVAL COLORS

Evoke the exuberant style of Latin America with vidi shades and bold pattern for interiors with sunny appeal. Upholster a sofa in a lively combination of plain and patterned fabric to create instant character. Pair with walls in clashing hues and finish with a riot of colourful cushions.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

6. MAKE IT MOODY WITH MINERAL HUES

Combine saturated shades of cobalt, malachite and verdigris with botanical motifs to bring natural depth and earthiness to your living room. Pale cane furniture provides a lighter note in a scheme featuring luxurious textures, such as velvet and silk, in rich moody shades.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Sarah Maingot)

7. BRING THE OUTSIDE IN WITH A BOTANICAL COLOR PALETTE

Use arboretum-inspired motifs, hothouse plant life and foliage for a fresh look this season. This trellis wallpaper speaks of blissful summer days in the garden. Working geometric motifs into the scheme gives the finished look a modern edge. It’s time to welcome all things green and pleasant into the home.

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

8. DRAMATISE WITH PINK

This confident mix of rose shades evokes a sense of luxury, femininity and sass. Pink has grown up, trading its sweet reputation for a more muted, sophisticated and earthy look. ‘There is an exciting duality to grown-up pink – it’s soft and delicate, yet strong and composed,’ says Paula Taylor, colour and trend specialist at Graham & Brown. It’s best to avoid clean whites with this pink, as they may wash out the space. Stick to warmer neutrals, such as tones of grey that will add depth, or dial up the drama with touches or charcoal, emerald green or black.

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

9. GO BOLD WITH A PALETTE OF PRIMARY COLORS

Take inspiration from the colors and distinctive style of David Hockney. Translate his signature tonal palette into a playful and uplifting interior. This striking living room composition is perpetually joyful and calls to mind Hockney’s expressive use of bold colors and shapes.

(Image credit: Damian Russell)

10. ADD GLAMOUR WITH TIFFANY BLUE

Tiffany Blue is a cool sophisticated colour, inspired by the iconic packaging of that most glamorous of New York stores. It makes a striking backdrop for living rooms. Keep furnishings calm and neutral with punches of Tiffany blue on walls and cushions. At Christmas time add touches of antique gold and frosty white decorations to add wintry glamour.

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

11. DECORATE WITH POWDERY PASTELS

Chalky tones have always been an attractive choice for interiors, giving rise to delicate, light rooms that are easy to live in. Create relaxed, grown-up schemes by pairing these hues with bold accent colors, or opt for impact with one sugary shade. Decorating with pastel shades needn’t mean going entirely pale. Create an accent wall in a darker colour, such as the deep blue used here, to balance lighter tones. To add depth, introduce subtle textures with wool upholstery and curtains and rugs in patterned weaves.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

12.BE INSPIRED BY PAINTERLY EFFECTS

Pay homage to the artistic spirit by drawing on the work of French painters Bonnard, Monet and Seurat. Walls and a rug with a soft watercolor effect add interest to this tonal room, inspired by post-impressionist Pierre Bonnard. Orange is used to grey effect against muted blue and grey in this 1925 painting The Bath and here they create a serene look that is so uplifting.

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Adrian Briscoe)

13. UTILISE COLOR THEORY

From boldly contrasting pairing to a sophisticated tonal palette, the success of this eye-catching scheme lies in the magic of the color wheel. A split complementary scheme, chosen from adjacent point on the color wheel, offers a vibrant look, with the deep turquoise tone of the wall making a striking backdrop for a cast of mid-century style furnishings and accessories in appealing shades of coral, red, olive and yellow.

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

14. EMBRACE SUMMER LIVING ALL-YEAR ROUND

Inject a playful summer vibe into your living room colour scheme. Use a palette of raspberry and citron to create a fresh, stylish look. Washed linens and the eye-catching open design of the rattan sofa brings a relaxing mood to this inviting space, which is enhanced by unlined curtains that gently filter the sunlight.

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

15. PICK COLORS FROM THE OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE SPECTRUM

Colors from the opposite sides of the color wheel appear intensified when used together – blue and orange, red and green and yellow and purple – and can be used to create a striking room scheme. Rich orange, nut brown and navy blue are an inviting combination.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

See:Small living room ideas – 15 ways to plan and decorate a smaller space

WHAT ARE THE BEST LIVING ROOM COLORS FOR 2021?

'The best color for your living room will always be a color that you simply love and want to look at all day, every day,' says Dominic Myland, CEO of Mylands. 'It is one of the rooms in your house that you’re likely to spend the most time in, so deciding the final scheme shouldn’t be rushed – paint large sample areas that will catch different light throughout the day and live with it for a few days or weeks before going ahead and painting the whole room. That way you can be sure that no matter what you go for, be it dark and moody, bright and light, or calm and sophisticated, you’ll be making the right decision for your space. As a general guide, rooms with a cool north-facing light benefit from warmer colors, but rooms with warm south-facing light can take most colors.'

WHAT COLORS MAKE A LIVING ROOM FEEL BIGGER?

Making a room feel larger is slightly more nuanced than colour alone. Lean towards off-white shades when working with neutrals over stark whites – off-whites will deliver more character than a pure white – distracting the eye from the size and more towards to the color.

'Another trick is to carry the wall color onto all of your woodwork, avoiding all the horizontal framing and creating the illusion of more space,' advises Brand Ambassador at Farrow & Ball, Patrick O’ Donnell.'Finally, be aware of your ceiling color – most people default to a generic white but if you choose an off-white that shares similar tones to your wall color, you will become less aware of where your wall height stops and the ceiling starts,' he says.

'Traditionally, wisdom has been that rooms in bright tones of white or off-whites will give the best feeling space,' says Dominic Myland. 'However we’re increasingly seeing customers take much bolder steps with bright colors, such yellow, which when paired with contrasting trims, mouldings and ceilings in lighter colors will trick the eye into thinking the walls are spaced further apart to make the room feel bigger.'

WHAT ARE THE NEW COLORS FOR 2021?

In her latest book, Recipes for Decorating, Farrow & Ball’s color consultant Joa Studholme notes that we are embracing stronger shades when decorating our homes. These include a range of hues found on the warm half of the color wheel, such asreds and pinks to oranges and yellows. Much research has been done into how colors affect our mood.

‘Current trends show a real shift towards brighter colors with a clean-cut finish,’ says Sue Kim, senior color designer at Valspar. ‘When choosing a paint color, don’t forget to look beyond the walls – consider the ceiling, skirting, window frames and mouldings and how they can be brought into the scheme.’