10 of the best paint colours for living rooms

A new shade of paint can make all the difference to not only the look, but also the feel of a room. Here are our favourite paint trends and makeover ideas for your living space

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Redesigning your living room? Painting it is great way to create a complete new look, especially if you are re-decorating on a budget.  However, there are a few rules of thumb to make painting your space easier. Larger rooms can take darker shades, especially if they have high ceilings whereas if you are working with a smaller living room lighter colours are going to be your friend. 

If you want to warm up a north facing living room then opt for rich tones like magenta and damson. By contrast, big airy rooms that get a lot of sun can handle cooler tones like blue or turquoise and, of course, white always works well. Other popular colours this year are green and grey. Yes, grey – it’s still a versatile colour and it looks fabulous with fresh white woodwork. 

Already feeling inspired to don you painting dungarees? Before you get started, take a look at these living room paint trends we are absolutely loving!

1. Be bold with a multi-coloured living room scheme

Want an on-trend look? Combine pastels with colour blocking to create a feature wall. Simply use the paler tone as an easy-to-live-with backdrop and paint different shapes in similar tones and a single, contrasting bolder colour on one wall. It’s a very effective - and quick - way to add interest to an existing scheme, too. 

Recreate this look by using the same colours: Pashmina wall; Tropical Ocean woodwork; Chance pale teal spots; and Quick Kiss accent spot; all Crown

(Image: © Crown)

2. Create an accent wall with teal 

Who says blue has to be a cool tone? Turquoise is fresh and inspiring, yet warm, too, making it the perfect choice for rooms that face north or south.

Mrs Booth by Fired Earth is a beautifully versatile colour that was named after a seaside landlady whose house had stunning views over Margate harbour. Its rich turquoise tones look great with accents of colour like a cheery yellow, tangerine and crisp white. Team it with mid-tone coloured wood as shown here for a warming look. 

(Image: © Fired Earth)

3. Create depth with one bold shade for walls and doors

Painting walls a deep colour might look a tad too traditional for your taste, but this kind of colour scheme can be given a contemporary twist if the paint shade is carried through to the woodwork – doors, skirting and picture rails – too. Balance it with furnishings in paler colours, and add texture to the scheme with wooden flooring.

Make the scheme practical by using emulsion on the walls, but a wipeable paint on the woodwork. These Grenache 372 walls in Pure Flat emulsion and woodwork in Architects’ eggshell look great against the Lady Char’s Lilac 368 Architects’ matt that sits above the picture rail. All Paint & Paper Library. 

(Image: © Paint & Paper Library)

4. Paint the ceiling of your living room 

The hottest paint trend for the year ahead is to paint your ceiling a colour. Yes! So, swear off the white emulsion, and pick up a pretty pastel shade, like this lovely Cool Agave instead. It will be pale enough to bounce light around and make the room feel spacious, just like white would.

Carry the shade down to picture rail level to create a cohesive feel, and pick a light but warmer tone, such as this Soft Wool,  for walls. Team with neutral accessories so the ceiling remains the star. 

Both colours, from the Premium Blend v700 walls and floors range from Valspar at B&Q, £25.20 for 2.5 litres. 

(Image: © Valspar)

5. Pick tonal pairings

Painting a room with two tones of the same colour is an easy way to add interest – but always use the darker shade on the lower part of the walls and the lighter one above if you want to make your ceiling feel higher than it is and your room seem larger.

‘Heart Wood’ is Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2018; it's an earthy pink with a hint of lilac that's warm and cosy, and perfect for a creating a relaxing feel in your living room. Here, it has been used with the lighter Pink Parchment on the upper part of the walls, with a thin stripe in between the two called Sapphire Springs 1, which adds still more detail to the scheme.

(Image: © Dulux)

6. Make it monochrome

Black isn’t often a colour we consider for decorating living rooms, but take a tip from the Scandinavians: it works.

Here, it looks fabulous contrasted with crisp off-white paint, but bear in mind that the key to getting the finish right is balance. In other words, break up the black with plenty of white: on ceilings, flooring, and other walls. Introduce texture and warmer tones, too, with accessories. In this living room, pendant lights, the artwork on the sideboard, and the white and wood tones of the sideboard itself all provide relief. 

Room by Benjamin Moore.

(Image: © Benjamin Moore)

7. Experiment with darker shades

Darker, dramatic paint colours are increasingly popular in living rooms, especially in spaces that are mainly used during the evening. But, if you want your living room to feel warm, bright and welcoming during the daytime, too, contrast furnishings and flooring in lighter colours with the paint colour on your walls. 

Here, the white sofa is set against a soft, brown paint shade called Rocky Horse by Earthborn Paints. It's complemented perfectly by blush pink and copper accessories, both of which add much needed warmth to the scheme. 

(Image: © Earthborn)

8. Try a deeper shade of blue

Reminiscent of denim blue, this lovely Niagara Blues 2 wall colour is the perfect shade for a room with good natural light and high ceilings. Its blue/grey quality has a warming tone and it looks fabulous with white flooring, ceilings and accessories. 

Accents of chartreuse, blush pink and gentle grey will look great with this colour and use pattern too – it creates a decorative element against the chalky blue of the wall. 

Similar shade: Eco Friendly matt paint, £45.75 for 5ltr, Lakeland Paints. All items shown, from George Home.

deep blue walls in a living room from George Home

(Image: © George Home)

9. Choose a grey colour scheme 

There’s something very classic about grey and white together and it’s a colour scheme that works brilliantly for both modern living rooms and traditional living spaces. There are many different shades of grey to choose from, some have blue tones, others are pinker. Not sure which to choose? Err on the side of caution with pinker tones, which will make your room feel warmer. 

Pavilion Gray No.242 seen here in Estate Emulsion sits between the two and is called a mid-grey. The woodwork is painted in Strong White No.2001 Estate Eggshell, both by Farrow & Ball.

grey traditional living room by Farrow & Ball

(Image: © Farrow & Ball)

10. Enjoy a lush green scheme

Green is soothing colour – perfect for a busy family living room – and one that's ideal for merging indoor and outdoor spaces, so a great choice if your living space overlooks the garden. The key is to pick the right tones to suit your room. Yellow-greens will add warmth to east- or north-facing rooms, and greens with a hint of blue, like Little Greene’s Pea Green 91, are great for rooms that get lots of sunlight as they will cool the room down. 

For a contemporary twist, combine a pale green with bolder shades. The bright pink, Leather 191 makes a dramatic contrast, while the dark woodwork in Obsidian Green 216 adds a touch of formality. The cornicing is painted in Slaked Lime 105

Green living room by Little Greene

(Image: © Little Greene)

Looking for more living room ideas?