8 of the best paint colors to enhance small spaces, according to experts

The right paint colors for small rooms can be transformative, making your home feel instantly lighter and brighter

coral blush painted bedroom with low wooden bed, retro sideboard, black woodwork, hardwood floor, white bedding, plant
(Image credit: Backdrop )

A huge space with gloriously high ceilings and large windows is the ultimate dream. But if that isn't the case in your home, it's time to make paint your best friend. There are a ton of stunning paint colors for small spaces out there, and they can be transformative; giving dark and compact rooms a bright and airy finish without having to knock down walls or budget for bigger windows either.

So if you're in a position where you can upgrade those walls, rest assured that you'll be able to turn your space around ASAP. Whether you're enhancing space in a kitchen using color or looking to make your entire apartment feel bigger, choosing between hundreds of paint chips can be a little overwhelming. To help you out, we spoke with paint experts and interior designers to get the low-down on which of the best paint colors for small spaces are hot right now.

"Traditional rules of color theory state that lighter colors, like white and tinted neutrals, make a small room feel larger and more spacious," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams (opens in new tab). Noting that there are other approaches also. you can take also. 

"Another way to make a small space pop is by creating a monochromatic look. Try painting the ceiling or trim in the same color after finishing the walls to make the space a focal point in your home," adds Wadden.

1. Golden ochre

home office with white desk and chair, patterned rug, white flooring, ochre walls and velvet drapes, black desk lamp

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Although pale shades are often are go-to colors to lighten a space, a turmeric yellow will add a joyful feel and brighten rooms at the same time. Golden tones are destined to be a hot trend for interiors during 2023, and what better way to make a space feel better than by bringing the warmth of summer into your home? 

"Savannah Green, a rich ochre featuring a balanced undertone of green and yellow, is almost like gold leaf for your walls." Says Helen Shaw, UK Managing Director at Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab). Noting how it's a beautiful color when used alongside white, black, or other golden hues, "this color can be anything quiet and gentle to striking and memorable."

It is a brave paint color for small rooms, and you could opt for two walls out of four to paint instead of an all-encompassing feel, though we say go for it as you won't be disappointed! 

2. Inky blue

inky blue living room with sage green couch, shelf on wall, chrome wall light, wood coffee table, wooden stools, basket, coffee table books

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball )

"If your room is dark, white is not your friend here, so experiment with darker colors," says Patrick O'Donnell, color consultant and brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab), noting how it may feel counterintuitive in a small space but that it can work very well "some dark colors will recess and you will create a cozy and comforting place to dwell. You could also consider taking your wall color onto the ceiling too – this helps blur the natural height of your walls with some soft color saturation." Continues O'Donnell.

Deep hues can actually add drama that the room is lacking, so we say you should take the leap and surprise yourself. Balance deeper shades with a couch in a light color like this on-trend sage green. Wood accessories work wonders too, adding a touch of warmth. 

3. Earthy pink

bedroom with low slung wooden bed, retro sideboard, pale pink/coral walls, pale green door and mirror, black woodwork, russet bed pillows, side table, plants

(Image credit: Backdrop)

A light pink is such a winner for all types of homes and when you walk into earthy pink territory, it can do great things for smaller spaces. "36 Hours in Marrakesh, a warm, earthy pink, is one of our best sellers. It looks great in all light settings and can really bring a small space to life," says Natalie Ebel, co- founder, Backdrop (opens in new tab).  "I also love Harajuku Morning – shown above, On Tour, and Natural Habitat and these softer colors can also be paired with a dark accent to make a room feel bigger." 

This gentle, easy-on-the-eye shade has notes of peach in it and cleverly avoids being sugary sweet. It will keep a North facing room snug and modern so consider using it as an accent for woodwork. Ebel mentions how you could introduce more light colors too for more dimension, think a pastel green mirror or pale pink rug. 

4. Raspberry

modern living room with one painted soft red/raspberry wall, cream futon style couch, rug, drapes at window, wood side table, balcony

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore )

Cozy yet fresh and modern, a warm raspberry shade can make a positive statement in tiny apartments. 

"When choosing what color to paint a room, it is important to consider how you can make that space feel better," says Shaw. "In a smaller space, some fear that adding a deep or bright color will make it appear claustrophobic, however, such colors cleverly absorb the light of a space, making the division between walls appear blurred and in turn, making the space appear larger." Shaw adds how Raspberry Blush makes an ideal paint pick to blur the edges of a small space, adding depth and dimension, rather than making it feel small.

"This, combined with the fact that it is the kind of color that fills the room with exuberance and delight, creates the perfect color for making a small space feel better." Continues Shaw.

5. Lavender 

small home office with white and two tone lavender walls, dark lavender woodwork, retro desk and chair, plant, retro desk lamp, artwork, rug

(Image credit: Mendelson Group/Tim Lenz)

We love how the paler and darker tones of lavender highlight the architectural trim detail here, enhancing the height of the room and making even more of a design feature out of the trim.

Using lavender solo or to soften up a stark white is a great way to keep an airy finish, without making a space feel cold. "As we continue to spend more time in our homes, I’m expecting interiors to move away from the recently trendy, stark all-white interior," says Gideon Mendelson, founder of Mendelson Group (opens in new tab). "I anticipate designers and homeowners will specify colors that feel more serene and calm and colors that create moods. While the color lavender speaks to luxury, elegance, and refinement, it also represents purity, spirituality, and grace."

6. Cool blue 

A cool pale blue will lift a space whilst adding a touch of color and it's ideal for a South-facing room that might actually feel a little "warm" during the day. It also has a contemporary feel if you get the tone right. “A light blue with a dose of softness, used as a fresh neutral with uplifting qualities of a modern pastel for small spaces.” Says Sue Kim, Valspar's (opens in new tab) color managing director. 

A color like this is easy to complement with colorful accessories too as it works well with brights like coral, turmeric, and indigo blue, making it ideal for a super modern finish.

7. Stone

bedroom with stone walls, upholstered bed, side table, taupe rug, artwork, brass table lamp

(Image credit: Sherwin-Williams)

You can't beat a cozy neutral that works to warm up your surroundings in winter and gives cool vibes in the summer. According to Wadden, it's exactly what you want in a small space, even if it's open-plan. "A rich neutral, like Urbane Bronze SW 7048 or Redend Point SW 9081 can also make a big impact in a transitional space like a mudroom or entryway, without overwhelming your existing color palette."

8. Crisp white 

compact living space with dining room, living space, mezzanine floor, all white, gallery wall behind dining table, retro lights, vintage rug, black wood coffee table

(Image credit: Urbanology Designs/Matti Gresham)

Ginger Curtis, president of Urbanology Designs (opens in new tab) took designing small spaces to the next level with her Bungalow Project. Compact to say the least, it incorporates some key clever design elements to make it feel spacious, including the use of white. 

"To create depth in this small space we used different wood tones, textures, and finishes that are all very different, but somehow they work nicely together to create depth and cohesion in this space," she says.

The use of wood adds warmth and character whilst white paint brightens the whole space. "Generally, the foundational elements of the room fall into a neutral and organic family so in order for it to not fall flat or feel overly simplified it actually works really well to mix wood tones with a neutral paint color because that is acting as your color and contrast in the space while still holding true to an organic baseline." 

White paint doesn't mean crisp white and cold, there are plenty of 'warm' whites to choose from that you can see in our round up below. 

Sophie Warren-Smith

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 22 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor of indie magazine, 91, Sophie trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for the modern bride. 

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