Colors you should never paint a small bedroom, from our color-theory experts

Pros from Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore reveal the colors you should never paint a small bedroom, so take note

Boho bedroom with white and terracotta accents and plants
(Image credit: Getty Images/nkrivko)

Proceed with caution when redecorating as there are colors you should never paint a small bedroom. In the event you don't know the red flags, color pros from Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore are on hand ahead of your revamp.

Your sleep space should be a representation of you and all that you love, but if you're working with tight quarters, there are different hues that affect the overall aesthetic of the room in a negative way. Some shades can make you feel more cramped, while others have the power to completely take over.

As you toy with small bedroom ideas for the new year and take a gander at color swatches, here's what might not be fitting for your sleep sanctuary, at least on all four walls.

Colors you should never paint a small bedroom

1. Bold colors

A boho-styled orange bedroom with orange walls and bright pink details in the bed

(Image credit: Getty Images/Andreas von Einsiedel)

The most calming colors for a small bedroom will give your space a light, airy, and overall refreshing feel. Subtle sages, light blues, and neutrals are a great way to decompress in your space after a long day. The opposite can be said for bold colors, however. 

"While these can be a great addition as an accent wall to make a room look more fun, it won’t achieve a calming effect," says Sue Wadden, the director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams.

If there's a deep shade you simply cannot do without, consider using it for accessories throughout your room, like an accent chair, or paint one wall your bold hue of choice. 

Sue Wadden
Sue Wadden

Sue Wadden is Sherwin-Williams' director of color marketing, responsible for developing color systems, consumer and professional education tools, as well as research of color and industry trends.

2. Overpowering colors

Neon purple-colored small bedroom with a bed, dresser, and white desk and plants

(Image credit: Getty Images/Imgorthand)

Some of the happiest paint colors for a small bedroom can feel like the most overpowering. Your mind might immediately go to highlighter yellow or Barbie pink, but there are ways to let those perky hues work their magic, provided you use them strategically. 

"In order to make sure a color doesn’t overpower a room, use them as accent colors on trims, or a single accent wall," Sue adds. "This is a great way to incorporate some color into a room without painting all four walls."

3. Dark colors

A navy-colored bedroom with light yellow bedding and a green plant and nightstand

(Image credit: Getty Images/miniseries)

While we find navy irresistible and cannot fathom making a pass on maroon, dark colors are a hindrance to a small room when they're not used sparingly. 

"Lighter colors feel like a breath of fresh air whereas darker browns and grays are cocooning," says Benjamin Moore's color marketing and development manager, Hannah Yeo

Dark colors have the power to suck the light out of the room, and if you're looking for ways to brighten a small bedroom, jet black and deep green might set you back. Again, think small accents for ways to incorporate those "no-no" colors.

Hannah Yeo
Hannah Yeo

Hannah Yeo is the color marketing and development manager at Benjamin Moore. Her area of expertise is in color, design, and concept development. 

4. Glossy sheens

Yellow bedroom walls with black overhead lights and black headboard with white sheets

(Image credit: Getty Images/Crispin la valiente)

Sometimes, it's not necessarily the color of the room that can make the aesthetic feel out of whack, it's the sheen. When styling a small bedroom, stay away from things that glisten like your lip gloss collection. 

"The light reflection from a high-gloss sheen is more suitable for rooms with drama and glamour," Hannah says. 

Chances are you're trying to avoid dramatics in your sleep space, so opt for matte or eggshell and keep things copacetic. 

5. Stark white

A stark, white Scandi-style bedroom with a bed, dresser, and rug and a few plants

(Image credit: Getty Images/Artjafara)

When discussing outdated small bathroom trends, designers agreed that stark white is a no-go, and we're going to make the same case for the bedroom. A glaring, bright white feels too sterile and uncomfortable. 

Considering one of the biggest trends throughout the design world is to have more functional items that you can actually use and enjoy, too much white can make you afraid to make any sudden movements. Opt for a blend of neutrals instead.

What to shop

Light, simple shades like Upward (SW 6239) by Sherwin-Williams can make things feel soothing, while those craving something more adventurous will enjoy a fun pastel such as Hawthorne Yellow (HC-4) by Benjamin Moore. 

But if dark and moody is the name of your game (guilty), pair those deep colors with a neutral like Pale Oak (OC-20) by Benjamin Moore so as not to overwhelm the room entirely.


What are the worst colors for a small bedroom?

According to designers and stylists, the worst colors for a small bedroom are ones that make it feel as though you're stripping light from the space, so anything dark and bold. Additionally, overpowering shades like wild neons have the potential to add a bit of frenzy and make your space (and mind) feel cluttered. If you do have your heart set on one of these shades, incorporate it in your room strategically, through decor pieces or an accent wall so as not to completely overtake the space.

What are the best colors for a small bedroom?

The best colors for a small bedroom, according to designers, are ones that make you feel relaxed and open up the space so you don't feel physically and mentally cluttered. Neutrals are having a moment this year, particularly because they're customizable and you're able to incorporate a variety of shades with them. 

What are the 2024 colors of the year?

2024 brings a mix to popular colors: pastels, minimalist neutrals, and monochromatic hues are among the most popular. The Pantone Color of the Year, arguably winning the gold medal in 2024, is Peach Fuzz, a "shade that resonates with compassion, offers a tactile embrace, and effortlessly bridges the youthful with the timeless." But if you're curious, the pros have explained how to use all of the 2024 colors of the year without paint.

Looking for more ways to get a pop of color in your abode? Take note of the small space color trends design experts say will be huge in 2024. They'll help you make some revamps in no time flat.

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.