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The best colours to use in small living rooms

  • Small living room ideas
  • Small Spaces
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Olivia Lowry
red velvet sofa with white walls and black side table

If there’s one decor topic we love talking about, it’s colour. A fresh lick of paint is a surefire way to instantly change the vibe of your living room. With so much more of us living in apartments and flats these days, we’re often left with a pretty small living room to work with. For years we’ve all been told to stick to white and light colours in small rooms, and it seemed to make sense - white walls = more light. Right? 

Now, a new colour revolution is happening. We’re beginning to experiment, realising that we don’t need to restrict our colour choices just because our living rooms lack the square footage we’d like. In this inspiration guide, we’ve pulled together the best colour palette ideas for scaled-down spaces. Plus, we’ll share tried-and-tested hacks for making sure your small living room feels roomy.

White/off white

red velvet sofa with off white walls

Why it works: There’s a reason white and off-white is such a popular choice for small living rooms. White is a great fail-safe base for decorating, and its bright tone always helps to reflect natural light around the room with ease.

How to use it: If you’re thinking of painting your living room this colour, there are a few ways to do it. Use white on ceilings to create a spacious feel, and on walls, opt for white colours with a warm undertone instead of ‘brilliant white’ which can end up feeling clinical and cold.


plaster pink wall with grey sofa

Why it works: Pastels are the best way of introducing a subtle splash of colour into small living rooms, without any fear of darkening the room. A pastel colour palette brings a spring-like fresh feel to rooms, making them feel larger and airier.

How to use it: Combine pastel colour walls with furniture in a darker shade to create an impactful, contrasting look. If you prefer a more subtle statement, combine pastel colours with neutral accents like grey or cream/beige

Blues and greens 

green wall with beige sofa

Why it works: Who said you can’t use bold colours in small spaces? Not us, that’s for sure. Blues and greens are ideal for making small living rooms feel much bigger. These colours help to bring the outside in, creating a living room that’s super calming to be in.

How to use it: Add an accent wall with darker blue and green shades to avoid overwhelming the space. Alternatively, try colour drenching with airy sky blues or soft pale greens for a contemporary vibe.

Soft neutrals

blue sofa and grey walls

Why it works: Muted colours like light beige, cream or grey can go a long way in making small living rooms feel bigger. These colours aren’t just great at reflecting light, they’re arguably the most versatile colour option out there. Just like white walls, they create the perfect base for building out your small living room’s colour palette.

How to use it: Layer up more than one neutral colour on your living room walls to create depth. This trick makes small spaces feel bigger, helping create defined zones in the room. Always opt for neutral paint colours with a warm undertone to maintain a cosy (not cold) feel in your living room.

How to use colour in a small living room

  1. Use accent walls and paint the features in your small living room to add depth and character without making the room feel smaller. 

  2. Make sure the room is well lit if it doesn’t get a lot of natural light. Use hanging pendants, wall lights, floor lamps and table lamps at different heights to show off your chosen colour. 

  3. Always paint your ceilings a lighter shade to draw the eye upwards, creating a sense of height. This is particularly important in small living rooms with low ceilings.

  4. Consider adding large decorative mirrors to help reflect light around the walls which helps create the illusion of more space. 

  5. Combine different shades of the same colour in a monochromatic colour scheme to add depth and interest to your small living room.


Is it ok to paint a dark colour in a small living room?

In short - yes, it’s ok to paint a dark colour in a small living room. The key to making sure it doesn’t overwhelm the space comes down to how much of the dark colour you use, and the way you light your living room. Dark spaces can be brightened up with a variety of interior design tricks, which means you don’t have to compromise on the colour you want.

What are the best paint colours for small living rooms?

If you’re painting a small living room, stick to lighter shades. Lighter shades are better for small living rooms as they reflect the light easier, which in turn makes the room feel more spacious. Opt for warm-toned neutral colours like off-white, beige and cream. If you want to introduce more colour, choose calming light shades of blue, green, yellow or pink to bring a fresh, airy feel to small living rooms.

What makes a small living room feel bigger?

To make a small living room feel bigger, added light is the most important thing to consider first. Take note of how much natural light your living room gets, and aim to adjust the artificial light to make up for any darker areas. Once your space is properly lit, you’ll have much more wiggle room for decorating it in the way you want, without having to compromise on bold colours and decor choices.

Which wall should I paint an accent colour on?

If you’re thinking of painting an accent colour in your small living room, it’s best to avoid any particularly dark areas of the room. Usually, these are the two shortest walls, as they get the least amount of light. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to create a focal point on either of the longest walls in your small living room. These sides of your room will get the most light during the day, which makes them the best choice for accent wall colours.
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