Choosing a living room colour scheme
Paint tester pots on to paper rather than the wall so you can move them around in different lights.
- Check out Dulux Colour Click, a natty web app which recommends colour schemes to suit curtains, sofa or an accent piece.
- If you're new to bold colours, introduce them sparingly via accent pieces such as lamps, vases and candlesticks.
Your living room is probably one of the most used rooms in your home - be it for parties, watching TV or quiet time. So, when it comes to decorating your living room and choosing a colour scheme, go for the design options that reflect your personality.
But if you're not sure whether to go monochrome, bright or neutral - or any other colour combination - read our essential colour scheme guide first.
Enhance natural light in your living room
Assess whether your room attracts a lot or a little natural light. If your room has small windows and faces north, dark woods and crimson walls won’t do you any favours. But light neutrals, off-whites, muted pastels and even dove grey will all work well in this sort of room. Sunny rooms on the other hand can wear stronger, darker colours just as well as airy neutrals. For more advice read our article How to increase natural light in your home.
Consider your existing furnishings
If you have an existing carpet, sofa or curtains to factor into your new colour scheme, you will need to consider these your starting point and build your decor around them. If you are starting from scratch and going gloriously freestyle, this is where the fun starts!
Complementary and secondary colours
A quick recap on some basic colour theory. Complementary colours are the three primary colours red, blue and yellow. Secondary colours are made by mixing the primaries, for example green, orange and violet. Complementary pairs are directly opposite each other on a classic colour wheel and their contrast makes them appear more intense. Classic complementary pairs are red-green, blue-orange and yellow-violet. Remember you don’t have to use these in their most vivid form; a soft sky blue shot through with amber can make a softly-spoken style statement. Read our useful article for more advice on How to choose complementary colours.
Remember, colour can be used to accentuate the features of the room that you like best and disguising those you don't. Read our article on Colour scheme design tricks for more inspiration.
A relaxing colour scheme
If your living room is a place of silence or meditation, take your cue from Mother Nature and embrace a spectrum of cool blues and greens. It is no accident that hospital walls are painted sage green or that TV studios have 'green rooms' as this is a soothing colour which eases nerves and restores inner balance. See our article on Decorating with green for more ideas. Soft blue, reminiscent of the open sky, also has a calming effect. Be inspired by our Blue living room design ideas.
Energising colour schemes
If your living room is a vibrant, dynamic space where great ideas (and even better parties) happen, tap into the contemporary décor trend for bold, bright colours - our lime green and pink living room is a good starting point. Accent brights like fire engine red, turquoise and citrus yellow add real energy to a room, particularly in the form of a feature wall. Alternatively, eschew colour and work an art deco, monochrome look with a black and white living room.
Take a look at these Bright living room colour schemes to see if you're brave enough to try a bold scheme in your home.
Light and contemporary colour schemes
A classic all-white living room, high maintenance though it may be, makes a perennially stylish statement. Elegant off-whites and pale, harmonious neutrals also make a living room feel airy and spacious. Farrow & Ball have an excellent selection of neutral paints to inspire you. Cream, grey and white hues make for stylish Neutral living room colour schemes that can be accessorised with an accent colour. Here are our top tips for Using accent colours within your scheme.
Cosy living room colour schemes
Warm, inviting colours such as russet red, forest green and rich saffron will make your guests want to stay way past bedtime. Play up the homely vibe with warm woods and floral accents. Here are some top tips on How to make a large room feel cosy.
Create a moodboard
Once you have decided on the general colour scheme you would like to use, start collecting images, bits of fabrics and any other items that inspire you. Arm yourself with a stash of interiors mags or head outdoors and visit boutique hotels and stately homes in your area. Remember your camera so you can snap your favourite colour schemes and then you can start putting together a mood board to capture and finesse your ideas. Read our guide to on How to create a mood board for more advice.
What to avoid in your living room
With the exception of white, it is not a good idea to saturate an entire room with one colour only. Tonal shades add texture and dimension to a room and make it a much more interesting space to inhabit. Equally, it's wise to avoid 'matchy matchy' curtains, sofa, cushions and wallpaper. Shake up the scheme and introduce unexpected shots of accent colour or work in light woods with dark.
For inspirational colour schemes for your living room, check out these beautiful living room ideas.
If you don't have the time or the budget for a full makeover, why not try some of these Living room quick fixes instead?