The Best Colours to Paint a Living Room

Living rooms are one of the most important places within a home, so it’s worth taking the time and effort to create a space you love. When it comes down to the mechanics of actually choosing the colours for your living space, it isn’t always easy. In this article, I’m sharing some of the best colours to paint a living room. These fail-safe options will look great in almost any living room!

Choosing Colours to Paint a Living Room

Paint companies have come to the rescue here and generally offer palette cards with light to dark colour selections that work well together. This is very helpful when considering different paint ideas for your living room.

Farrow and Ball take this idea further when helping us choose colours to paint a living room by providing a range of carefully chosen complementary colour schemes.

One scheme that stands out is their subtle suggested combination of Calamine Pink, Skimming stone and the warm grey hue, elephants breath. The combination takes any guesswork from ensuring flawless tonal satisfaction. Essentially, it means you don’t need to be an interior designer to choose a stunning colour scheme!

In general, the lighter a colour is within a colour range the more similar it will be to the lighter colours within all the other ranges. It is the colours on the darker side that differ the most. Choosing the darkest colours first will give you a head start in increasing the likelihood you will like the lighter colours in that palette too. 

Knowing this little tip can help you avoid the situation where you are choosing from a great range of very similar light colours when in reality soon you will look at the darker tones that compliment your light choices and they can vary considerably and spoil your plans. Star with dark shades first to avoid this.

Things to Consider when choosing a paint colour for your living room

When it comes to choosing a paint colour for your living room there are plenty of things that you should consider. However, above and beyond trends, fashions and must-haves, the most important thing is that you choose a colour that you love. It is you and your family that will be using the room and living in the home. Because of this, it is essential that you choose something that you love.

Of course, you may well want to take into consideration things like how light the room is, the size of the room, the orientation and the layout. These things will all help you get started when it comes to choosing a colour of paint that you love. When you combine the practical things with what you feel in your heart and love, you’re on the right step to choosing the best colours to paint a living room. 

The Size

The size of a room matters when it comes to colour choice and the palette within which those colours fall. Larger rooms tend to have an ability to take areas of darker colour well and have available wall space to balance those darker colours with lighter tones. If you have a large room that is in danger of feeling empty or cold then darker colours can help bring a touch of much-needed cosiness to your living room.

On the flip side of this, smaller rooms that you wish to still look airy and spacious are well served by colours tending to the more neutral side in light tones. You can help small rooms take on the illusion of being bigger by using lighter colours, especially in places such as the ceiling.

That being said, darker colours can work in small living rooms too, if you’re going for super cosy rather than bright and airy. This is why it’s important to consider the atmosphere you want to create in the space before choosing a coour.

The Orientation 

The shape and orientation of your living space are physical constraints. However, our eyes can see the space differently depending on how colour and tone are used within the space.

A narrow living room can be given the illusion of greater width and balanced proportions with the use of colour. Cooler light colours tend to give walls the impression of receding into the distance, while darker colours can give the impression a wall is closer than it really is.

Using this to our advantage in a narrow room where we choose to paint the shortest opposing walls in slightly darker tones than the longer walls can help improve the perceived proportions of the room.

The Amount of Natural Light

Although in general the amount of natural light is important for living spaces, equally artificial light will often be used in living spaces when they are occupied. With clever use of paint colours we can maximise the light and airy feel of any space during daylight hours, but give the same space a cosy intimate feel during the evening when the space is used for relaxation. 

The direction your room faces and the time of day it is likely to get the most sunlight matters too. For example, if your house doesn’t get sunlight until later in the day then you may wish to consider lighter colours in your living room. This will ensure it doesn’t feel too dark during daylight hours.

The Best Colours to Paint a Living Room

When choosing the best colours to paint a living room taking into account things like the size of a room, natural light and the shape of the room are important. However, your choices don’t finish here. Instead, it is important to delve deeper into the shades of colour available, so you can make sure that you make the perfect choice for you and your needs. For example, you may know that you want blue walls in your living room, but choosing the right shade of blue is important. Companies like Farrow and Ball have a plethora of choices which helps to ensure there is something for everyone. With a little research, you should be able to find the perfect shade for your needs. 

1 – White

Dining room painted in Farrow and Ball's Slipper satin

Image via Farrow & Ball

White walls will always work well in living rooms. A lighter shade of white paint on a living room wall or ceiling will reflect the most light back into a room. This helps maximise the feeling of space within a room.

Pure white however is a very stark finish and much better alternatives are available. These alternatives add a hint of colour to the white which removes the stark look. Farrow and Ball’s colour palettes are complemented by suitable whites like Skimming Stone. This neutral colour incorporates a subtle grey hue to the mix resulting in surfaces that reflect light brilliantly. It does this in a soft way that doesn’t feel out of place next to deeper tones.

Living room painted in Wevet, one of the best colours to paint a living room

Image Credit: Farrow and Ball (Wevet)

The tones you incorporate in the wider scheme of the room will dictate which white is best to choose. Farrow and Ball’s Slipper Satin, Wevet and Skimming stone all showcase delicate grey tones. Which you choose will depend on the darker colours in your tonal range for the living space you create. Choosing your subtle off-white by following the darker colours first rule becomes easy. At first glance white might seem like the easiest paint colour to style with the rest of the room, but the right choice of white makes all the difference and it can be the perfect choice for a room that wants to make the most of the natural light. 

2 – Pink

Pink is a versatile colour that can provide the basis for a perfect living room. It is a colour that compliments the modern greys seen in recent designs so well. Farrow and Ball’s Setting Plaster pink is the perfect dusky pink that backdrops both period and contemporary hardwood furniture well. The addition of a splash of yellow in its hue gives the softness needed for living spaces to feel cosy and inviting from only a glimpse. It can also work well as an accent wall colour if you’re not looking to paint the entire room.

Living room painted in Setting plaster

Image via Farrow and Ball

Another pink in the company’s range that visually tempts us into a living space is Calamine. This soft pink has a hint of grey in the colour, which works well in larger rooms as a subtle backdrop to your style. In smaller rooms, Calamine comes alive and can take centre stage having enough depth to frame living spaces perfectly.

Farrow and Ball’s Sulking Room pink is described by the company as a muted rose with enormous warmth. This describes the colour best, it is one that can provide all the softness needed to make a space cosy and inviting whilst retaining definition and the solidity to hold shape well against the changing light conditions a living room experiences during the day.

3 – Green

Living room painted in Green Smoke

The colour green immediately brings to mind peaceful nature-inspired tones that have for centuries been used to great effect in living spaces. That is not to say the colour only works in traditional schemes! Farrow and Balls Green Smoke is a green that can equally excel in both contemporary themed rooms and more modern settings, with a smokey blue undertone, this wall paint has a throwback to the 19th century feel but works equally well with modern design rooms.

Greens can be softer too, like Farrow and Balls Mizzle. This beautiful green-grey colour subtly blends grey within its makeup to give a green that can be used to great effect in a living space. It has the strength to not be lost when darker colours like blue are interwoven in your living room’s design palette. With a modest hint of grey in this colour, it is perfect for rooms with a natural and almost cottage-like feel to them.

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Inspired by the weather when there is both mist and drizzle, it’s a clean and natural-looking paint colour. It will work well in many different rooms throughout the house, but is undoubtedly perfect for many living room paint choices. 

4 – Light Blue 

Light blue is a great colour for a room that wants to make the most of the natural light because it is a shade that is designed to lighten the overall look of a room. The non-assuming shade can also work well as a background for bolder art pieces & furniture that is brightly coloured if that is the chosen palette for your living room.


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Farrow and Ball do a great range of light blue paint choices, which means that whatever you are looking for there will be something to suit you and your needs. For example, Borrowed Light, which takes its name from the delicate light that shines through small windows when the sun hits the glass in just the right spot.

Parma Gray is more of a cool blue than it is gray. However, the darker undertones mean that it can work well in a room where gray is one of the main colours. Light Blue is also a great choice, with a silvery-blue undertone which can work well in darker rooms. With so many shades of paint to choose from, it’s worth thinking about the rest of the room and what is going to match best with what you have planned. The great thing is that whether you want a grey undertone blue or something a little more delicate you can be sure that there will be a paint colour choice to suit you and your needs.

What Colours Brighten a Living Room?

If you’re looking to brighten a dark living room, a warm shade of white will work well. A delicate pale blue like Borrowed Light will work well too. Choosing paint with a completely matte finish will work best, as it can make the wall appear further away than it is.

Your Final Choice of Colours to Paint a Living Room

When it comes to choosing colours to paint a living room it is important to take your time. Research your options and choose something that you are nothing less than in love with. Our living rooms quickly became the hub of a family home. After all, it’s where we relax, spend time with our loved ones and f spend a good chunk of our time at home.

We can follow all the rules of the colours that we should have but it needs to be something that we’re happy with. Don’t rush the decision. Instead, spend time considering what will look best and then you can feel confident in your choice and the fact that it really will make your living room feel just like home. At the end of the day, all we want is to feel relaxed and at peace while at home, and the right living room colour scheme can make all the difference.

Emily Brookes
Emily Brookes

Emily Brookes is an Interior Designer based in the UK. Since graduating from the National Design Academy with a Bachelors Degree in Interior Design, Emily started her successful blog, Emily May Designs, which shares ideas and inspiration on how to create a beautiful home.

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