Adding color with paint is a quick and easy way to add style and personality to a living room. Whether your living room is an oasis of calm or home to a house full of children, nothing can transform a space like paint. Take a look at these brilliant living room paint ideas to inspire your own decorating scheme.
Color (even if you’re using neutrals) should be the first thing to consider when you are looking for living room ideas. Ensure your chosen hues work well in your room by applying testers of paint onto sheets of white paper, then tacking them onto each wall you’re thinking of using that color on.
Leave them up for a few days before making any final decisions, noticing how the light affects the color at different times of day, as well as checking they work well next to other elements, such as curtains or couches.
If you’re not confident in choosing a scheme, go with a pre-selected palette already picked out by the paint brand you’re using, or follow our advice later on working with tonal, harmonizing and contrasting colors.
Living room paint ideas
These living room color schemes and paint ideas have been chosen for their suitability for living rooms, but also because they are on trend for the year ahead – yet ultimately timeless.
Choose a tone that's right for the orientation of your room. East- and North-facing living rooms will need warmer shades than South- or West-facing living rooms.
Similarly, poorly lit rooms will benefit from lighter shades – unless, of course, you purposely choose to make your living room dark and cozy.
1. Work with white
Nothing surprising about this, but brilliant white paint has a transformative effect on interiors – use it on walls and ceilings and it will make a star of every non-white piece of furniture, fabric and accessory in your living room.
White is also an ideal choice when planning small living room ideas. It is a wholly selfless paint shade, providing all the light and energy while reflecting the attention elsewhere – and white living rooms are incredibly easy to switch up.
Decorating with primary colors over white will bring the scheme to life, pastels will be pretty, or you can go for a monotone scheme by sticking to white and black – although the addition of gold or coppery metallics will add warmth.
2. Add a touch of warmth with cream
For a while, back in the 1980s, white was replaced by magnolia. And though now we tend to shy away from that pinky-cream, it is a forgiving shade that fits perfectly well into contemporary or mid-century modern living rooms (above) or more traditional schemes (below).
In fact, if you love the idea of a white room but have a North- or East-facing living space with little warm natural daylight, this should be one of the colors you test out. It will reflect light, but add an inviting warmth to the room that white can't.
3. Add the warmth of cream – but make it edgier with ochre or coral
Beige living room ideas that leans towards ochre (above) can be truly lovely spaces. North-facing rooms can feel chilly, so use shade like a burnt ochre to warm the space up.
Neutral rooms that use any color that mimics something we can find in nature – stone and mushroom for example – will always have a calming effect.
Follow it through into blinds and drapes too and add accents of grass green to add a fresh feel – you can’t go wrong if you follow nature’s palette.
Coral (below) has emerged to be one of the most popular shades over the last six months, so we asked Helen Shaw, UK director at Benjamin Moore why she thinks it’s such a hit.
‘Corals and pink peach tones are perfect for making a design statement. They create a rich, warm welcoming feeling with undertones of red, orange and pink. It works beautifully as an accent to a gray scheme, or in its own right as a statement wall color.
'More neutral, natural plaster tones or light terracotta shades can create a wonderful earthy feel in a room. They look particularly eye-catching in well lit spaces and when paired with natural materials or painted wood.’
4. Choose the right shade of gray
Now the best-selling paint color after white, gray has secured its position as the modern neutral of choice. Finding the right gray living room ideas is exactly like buying a red lipstick: you choose one with the undertone that suits your skin tone.
Gray paint tones vary from the cool end of the spectrum, with blue undertones as shown here, to warm shades featuring red bases that give a brown, pink or purple tint.
Your journey starts with deciding on the ‘temperature’ of color your room needs – cool or warm.
5. Pick a warm gray-beige
This shade of gray has a touch of yellow in the paint, giving it a brownish tint. This color of gray is great for East- and West-facing rooms for diffused light at sunrise or sunset respectively, while adding warmth at other times of the day.
Gray, like other neutral living room ideas, acts canvas for other colors. Team it with bright artwork and accessories for a truly striking appearance.
6. Pick a deep, earthy tone
Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year 2021 is Urbane Bronze (above), another timeless shade that won't date any time soon. It's the perfect step forwards from more muted neutrals, offering the opportunity for to create cozy living room ideas through paint choice alone.
7. Pick a deep chocolate brown for enveloping warmth
Dark living room ideas can feel a bit scary to use, but actually darker colors can be a wonderful choice for a living room. Warm and nurturing, they work well in a room that feels too big, and of course balance is key to making the rest of the scheme work.
Called Cherry Truffle and described as a ‘bitter chocolate with a hint of red’ – hence the berry theme – the brown above looks great with lighter hues like ruby and claret as they’ll lift the overall look.
If you add in a warm metallic accents – perhaps in accessories – the room will glow and not feel too dark. Keep the floor pale and the ceiling white for contrast.
The sophisticated space below uses Charbone from Paint & Paper Library. Keeping your ceiling light will lighten a room and bring balance and contrast to the scheme.
Team brown living room ideas with warming shades like taupe, sandstone, blush and coral to create a cocooning feel that’s cozy and uber stylish – just make sure you have a few paler pieces, textures and patterns to add a decorative element.
8. Go back to black with your living room paint ideas
A deceptive but delicious black paint, the blue undertones of this black living room shade give a pleasurable richness and depth. When used with white, it will dramatically change the interplay of light and space in your room.
Striking enough to take center stage yet subtle and confident enough to allow other hues to shine, black is a dream to work with. Use it wall to wall in a room that gets lots of daylight, or highlight architectural features, such as window frames and shutters, in rooms that are more light-starved.
9. Go for deep blue to make a living room intimate
Nothing pops like a blue living room; blue is a shade that has the power to transform.
Deep and bright, indigo is surely the most joyful blue hue. Sitting between pure blue and violet on the color spectrum, this intense color is the shade of choice for designers and artists.
10. Create a sky blue living room scheme
A shade that’s always been popular in the world of interiors, soft blue is a growing living room trend that is set to be next year’s color du jour.
Powder blue paint has the quality of being both soothing and invigorating, and offers plenty of design versatility. Used with crisp white and pebble grey, it creates a calming coastal feel, while as one block of color it can be an enveloping breath of fresh air.
11. Keep it cool with Tiffany blue
If you love blue but are worried that the room you are decorating might feel a little cool afterwards, choose a color with a touch of yellow in it. This produces a much warmer blue that can cope with the coolest of atmospheres.
This cool color is inspired by the iconic packaging of the jewellery store. Tiffany blue is not a shade for the faint hearted, so if you’re nervous of adding bold color all over, use it in alcoves or as part of your accent wall ideas instead.
The trick is to balance out this dynamic hue by teaming it with black or white furniture and a distinctive color, such as red.
12. Give your living room green credentials
Bringing the outdoors in by having green walls in your home is always a good idea; the nod to nature will create a calm atmosphere however busy the space, so opting for a green living room works just as well as using this shade in a spa-style bathroom.
Green is also said to inspire creativity and spontaneity, making it the ideal choice for your living room walls.
13. Turn up the heat with yellow
Sophisticated and inviting, yellow living rooms bring in warmth and a cocooning feel. Its rich, textured caramel tones elevate it from just another brown, making it surprisingly tranquil, particularly in small living rooms.
Using earthy shades sets off the vibrancy in colors such peony pink, apple green and amethyst purple, but also highlights classic stone and white.
14. Warm a cool room with an autumnal color palette
Even if you're not on a lazy, far-flung holiday, you can still evoke the feeling of sun-drenched escapism with a burnt orange paint colour.
Walls painted in terracotta create a bold backdrop for building up layers of interest with a colorful sofa, patterned rug and two-tone accessories.
15. Pick pale pink for warmth and light
A strong trend and so versatile, pink is an easy color to pair with others and works particularly well when used with ochre, green, mulberry, coral or orange. At the stronger end of the palette, fuchsia or ruby are impactful, while the softer tones are ideal for a calming living room.
A room painted pink will look warm and inviting all day long, regardless of how much natural light is present, and at night the same space will be wonderfully cozy.
Try using a pink paint in a North-facing space to warm up that cool light. This beautiful scheme uses a calming color palette of pink and white with bright pops through the choice of accessories.
16. Be enchanted by warm pink
It’s inviting, uplifting and effortless to decorate with, so it’s no surprise that pink is now seen as an interiors neutral, working in everything from bohemian living room ideas to vintage inspired schemes, like the one above. But with choices from pastel to bubblegum, the right shade can prove a tricky quest.
There is an unexpected earthiness to a warm pink, recalling the natural landscape, that makes the color a dream companion to other shades. This versatile hue adds freshness when used alongside classic furniture, and impact in a more contemporary setting. Quite simply, it’s a pink for grown-ups.
17. Paint a living room with a heritage red
When designing a living room, warm up the space with a heritage red. No other shade evokes a celebratory mood quite like a rich cranberry red.
Add a mix of eye-catching and natural elements, such as wooden furniture, bold pattern and accents of black, for a modern take on a traditional palette.
18. Paint a living room recess
Paint is the perfect way to express your artistic and experimental side. ‘I see people being far more creative with paint these days, doing lovely things, such as painting the inside of a recess a darker shade to give it extra definition,’ says Joa Studholme, colour consultant, Farrow & Ball. ‘Ideas such as these can take as little as 20 minutes and will transform the room.’
The darker shade in the recess allows cherished objects to stand out, while the television successfully blends into the backdrop to create a subtly colorful yet minimalist living room.
19. Contrast living room paint ideas with wallpaper
Living room paint ideas are really useful for zoning an open- or broken-plan living room, particularly when used in tandem with wallpaper ideas.
The room above is a case in point – the cozier, darker area used for movie nights is in a color-blocked blue; this color is then picked up in the pretty – but much lighter – wallpaper in the part of the room used for socialising.
20. Use paint to highlight living room furniture
Living room paint ideas needn't be limited to the walls – you can use color to quickly transform furniture.
Even just painting the inside of a display cabinet can introduce a beautiful accent color into your living room scheme, highlighting the beautiful objets you have inside.
Which color paint is best for a living room?
The best paint color needn't rely on the latest trends. Nor do we have to believe that white walls are the only way to go. A plain and neutral base can indeed be a good starting point from which to build a decorating scheme, but if you ignore the spectrum of colors and patterns available in paint, you could be missing out.
Be brave and find colors and looks that work for you. Do your research and start collecting together living room pictures you are drawn to in order to find your perfect shades.
There's no denying that gray living rooms are still the most popular mainstream color choice. It has become the neutral of choice, replacing cream and beige for the modern home.
What paint can you use in the living room?
Today’s paints are, in fact, all about practicality. Chalky finishes are less fragile than before, and matts more wipeable. Pretty much all paints are less smelly than they used to be, and the eco-friendly alternatives now offer a robust covering as well as being socially responsible.
Quite simply, there is something for every surface, every room and every shopper. Some colors do come and go, and sometimes brands appear or disappear from the offering in the big DIY stores, but it’s fair to say that the color choice is still immense.
And, if you can’t see it on the shelves, have your ideal living room paint ideas mixed for you in whatever finish takes your fancy.
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