We recently updated this article in January 2024. In this update, we added a trio of product blocks to each section, to provide you with tangible suggestions, be it paint, peel-and-stick wallpaper, or sample pots of emulsion. Though we won't necessarily test these shades in our own homes, we have included highly-rated brands that we know and trust to provide a variety of finishes and perform well in your small office. Many of the brands we have selected work sustainably to create water-based formulas with minimal VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and package these up in vessels that can be recycled or upcycled.
When choosing the best colors to paint a small office, there’s a lot to consider. The type of color schemes you like, the best shade for a space you’ll spend hours in, and even if it’ll put you in the right mood for work.
Combined with the challenges of limited square footage, that’s where our colour theory and design experts are best placed to lend a paint-covered hand — and their immense color knowledge — to help you nail this decision.
The even better news is when picking the best colors to paint a small office, the sky really is the limit. We spoke to our design experts for their best small office ideas, and superb color tricks to maximize your small office decor.
Best colors to paint a small office — hues for every mood
First, familiarize yourself with the worst paint colors for small spaces, then get to choosing the right color.
Nicole Gibbons, founder and CEO of Clare, suggests evaluating your lighting (you may have to learn how to properly light a small apartment) and then choosing the color. “Ensure your office has ample natural light, or use warm, ambient lighting to enhance the true beauty of these colors,” she explains.
“The right lighting can dramatically affect how these colors are perceived and can contribute to the overall mood and productivity of your office space.”
Nicole Gibbons is the founder and CEO of Clare.
1. Warm up with beige
If you are looking for an easy color that works with just about any aesthetic, you can’t go wrong with a warm beige in a neutral small office.
“Neutrals like warm beige are a fantastic choice for small office spaces. They have a calming effect — perfect for a workspace,” says Nicole.
This versatile color is a great alternative to plain white. It also feels like a more intentional neutral, adding a chic design element.
To prevent the space from feeling flat, Nicole explains that adding texture is key, even if you have a minimalist small office idea in mind. “Textures bring depth and dimension to a room, making it feel more inviting," she says.
"Consider incorporating textured fabrics in your window treatments or office chair, woven baskets for storage, or even a subtle printed wallpaper to create a visual interest that's both understated and sophisticated. These elements can make your office feel more personal and thoughtfully designed.”
Alternatively, to modernize a small office, why not create a wall mural using paint, or paint a wall arch where your desk is? It's unlikely that you'll use a full pot of paint, so it's a great way to makeover a small office on a budget. If you don't have any leftover emulsion from a rental project, see if a friend or family member has some.
Price: From $3
A fresh, modern beige with subtle reddish undertones and a sophisticated, welcoming vibe.
Price: From $3
A cozy light beige with warm white and yellow undertones.
Price: From $6.95
Easily achieve a soft minimalist interior with this faux textured rattan wallpaper that will bring an organic touch to any room.
2. Go green
Green is a fantastic color for a colorful small office. It’s stylish and creates a feeling of bringing the outside, according to Nicole.
Creative Director of Little Greene, Ruth Mottershead says bringing nature into your office can have a grounding effect, and Olive Colour is just the shade to do that. This mossy, olive green not only brings balance and tranquility but also connects you to the natural world, which can be incredibly soothing in a work environment, and create calm in a small office setting.
”The sense of wellbeing we gain from time outside in the natural world has resulted in a desire to recreate this sense of connection and positivity in our homes, driving a renewed love for greens of all hues,” says Ruth.
Color fade protection
Price: From $6.98
Truly Olive is an understated, Mediterranean green that conjures visions of bucolic hillsides covered with orchards.
Price: From $6.95
This textured faux removable grasscloth wallpaper is made with raised inks to mimic the feel of real grasscloth. Use this alongside paint for added interest.
Price: $5.63 per square foot
This dramatic forestscape is full of hidden treasures, pops of color emerge through the design with yellow, orange and pink tones complimenting the emerald tree canopies.
Ruth Mottershead is the Creative Director of Little Greene and an expert in color theory.
3. Delve into dark gray
Ruth explains how dark grays have replaced dark blues as the most-loved colors. “Darker hues are perfect for a study space, where they create a sense of focus. Color blocking (pairing colors opposite each other on the color wheel) with gray is a clever technique if you want to add an accent color.” If you'd like a brighter shade, light gray may even make a small space look bigger.
Color blocking is ideal for small office layouts with wainscoting (wall paneling) or chair rails. Painting these embellishments one color, and the wall a complementary shade will add depth to a small space, leveling up the design exponentially.
Color of the Year 2024
Price: From $2
Discover Behr's Cracked Pepper; a versatile soft black that will accentuate any small office. This paint color can be dressed up or down, so will you keep it simple, or make a statement?
Available in four finishes
A rich, versatile gray that delivers utility with a side of sophistication.
Price: From $8.50
According to F&B, Pigeon is particularly suited for use in darker spaces like studies and paneled rooms.
4.Try icy blue
For those who prefer bright, refreshing hues, a crisp shade of blue such as Frozen by Clare can be a smart choice. “This icy, cool blue is reminiscent of a crisp winter morning, fresh and invigorating. In a small office, using a bright color can open up the space, making it feel more expansive and lively. It's perfect for stimulating mental energy and boosting creativity,” says Nicole.
Using a soft but bright color may even help you feel more motivated in a small office.
To complement this color, she suggests incorporating art and colorful accents. Nicole adds, "These pops of color can be in the form of artwork (we love Desenio), decorative pillows, or even colorful stationery. They add a playful and inspiring touch to your workspace, turning it into a place that fuels your creativity and confidence.”
Price: From $16
Louis Blue is a soft pastel blue color reminiscent of French and Swedish interiors. Pair this clean, cool blue with white for a European aesthetic, or combine it with brights for a vintage retro feel.
Price: From $3
This fresh, light blue reminds us of cool waters, cloudless skies, and a magical red carpet moment that puts this heavenly blue hue in the spotlight.
Price: From $5.99
2057-70 (aka Icy Blue) is an ultra-light, crisp blue that recalls the fresh frost of early morning.
5. Pick pink
While pink might not be the first color you think of for an office, it’s a unique choice that’s particularly good for those in creative fields. Pink home decor also makes for a great Zoom background.
Castell Pink by Little Greene is one example of this. “This shade is very versatile, allowing you to incorporate deeper accents, zone areas, and add interest,” says Ruth.
If you’re looking for a way to compliment this hue, she suggests a deep red on your doors or woodwork. “Using colors with related undertones together creates an inviting contemporary scheme,” Ruth adds.
Whatever you do, don't be tempted to slather your space in a bright pillar box-style red. Bright reds can cause stress and are one of the worst colors to paint a small office.
Price: From $2
Pink 12 Matt is described as a deeper coral with a subtle splash of grey to pull it back into optimum tastefulness territory.
Bold berry hue
Price: From $5.99
This classic shade mixes the drama of red with the decadence of violet.
Three finishes available
Price: From $8
Capri Pink adds dynamism and joy to small office spaces or creates a rich and sophisticated atmosphere when paired with black furniture.
What are the best colors for staying motivated in a small office?
If your job is a little stressful and you need to unwind to focus, think about soft neutrals and beige. However, if you prefer a more energetic color, try brighter shades like a vibrant blue or green.
What do you need to paint a small office?
You need primer, paint, and a roller or brush. However, you may need additional tools depending on your space. You can pick up everything you need with this painting kit from Amazon.
Just because your office is small doesn’t mean it can't be beautifully designed. If you don't have much cash to splash, consider little changes like swapping out an area rug, or adding a cozy throw blanket on your office chair. A sheer curtain or divider screen might be all it takes to create a hidden small office idea, especially if you have an open-plan apartment, or share your home with a roomie and need some privacy. when working remotely.