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How to choose the right paint colour for small living rooms

  • colour palettes
  • how to guide
  • tips
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Ed Hawes
paint colours

If you’re lacking space in your living room, then you need to do whatever you can to make it appear larger. Luckily, there are lots of tricks you can use to create the sense of space, even in small rooms. Use big mirrors to reflect light, avoid clutter with clever storage ideas and choose your furniture well (more on which later) - these are all great ways of making any space seem bigger. But one of the most important considerations is the colour of the walls and woodwork.

Different colours have been proven to provoke different reactions in our brains. Green is relaxing and calming, and red is stimulating, for example. But colours can also affect the way we interpret space. So, just by choosing the right colour for your walls, you can immediately make even a tiny space seem larger. Below we’ll provide you with a list of some top small house living room paint colours. Pick the tone that best suits your design preferences and preferred palette and you’ll soon see what a big difference a lick of paint can make.

Dark teal

dark teal walls


Right off the bat, let’s clear up the fact that dark colours don’t always necessarily make spaces appear smaller. OK, so maybe painting everything black might be a bit oppressive in smaller spaces, but using some other darker colours can actually help to camouflage the fact a room is small. A deep blue/green like teal can actually help to create a sense of depth, especially when teamed with brighter accent colours in soft furnishings and more.

Coffee brown

Continuing on a darker theme, coffee brown is a great way to boost the cosiness factor of any space. This particular shade of brown, with just a hint of grey, can create both the sense of space and intimacy in small sitting spaces. Again, you can contrast the darker wall colours with lighter and more neutral shades in your furniture. For example, check out the lighter tones of the Swyft Model 01 sofas in combination with coffee brown and you’ll see what we mean.

Gun metal grey

Dark grey walls

Grey as a colour has a number of unflattering connotations. When you say something is grey it means it is dull, lifeless and boring. But in fact, grey can be a really sophisticated and chic colour on the walls. Plus, it has the major advantage of going with almost every other colour (much the same as black or white). So, whether you choose bold pink or bright yellow accents, it all looks great with grey.

Grey also seems to add presence, without dominating, making the other furniture in the room stand out and creating the sense of space.

Brilliant white

white living room walls

Of course, you knew white had to be on the list at some point. There is no denying that white reflects light and creates an airy and bright space, helping the walls to recede. However, not all white is the same. Especially when it comes to paint colours. Many of them can have a slight tint of blue or green. Choose a super white option, which is nothing but brilliant white, and you won’t get any of the cold tones that some other white paints can bring.

Soft yellow

Really bright yellows can be a bit overwhelming and perhaps look a little unsophisticated in living rooms, but a softer yellow can be fun and stylish. Think more natural tones, almost like that of straw, which will add a light tone and some gentle warmth to your space, while creating the sense of space. You do need to be a bit careful with yellow as it can be quite difficult to match it with some sofa colours.


This can be a really cosy colour that also adds a huge amount of warmth to your living space. It also has the major advantage of pairing really well with various shades of leather or neutral browns that are common for sofa colours. For example, check out the Swyft Model 02 in velvet Brick. This would work really well with a tan paint colour on the wall. Reflecting your furniture colour in lighter shades on the wall is a great way to create a sense of space in the Scandinavian style. You can learn more about Scandi influenced paint choices with our Scandinavian Colour Palette Guide.


This is a really bold colour choice for your living room but one that can pay off if you choose the right shade. Bold and loud colours like purple might even be better in small spaces than in large ones, with too much of an expanse of purple feeling a little overwhelming. In a smaller space, it can be managed more easily.

Soft black

We mentioned above that jet or true black might be a bit much for a living space but there are some other tones of black that can work really well. Soft black is dark but is without the harshness of a full black. Think of a charcoal shade, almost verging on very dark grey which can create both space and a sense of grandeur. There are no half measures with this tone though (as is the case with a number of the darker colours on this list). You have to fully commit, painting the ceilings and woodwork in the same colour. Find out more about why you should do this with our ‘Why painting ceilings the same colour as walls’ guide.


Of course, we know that going all out for dark shades is not for everyone, and it does also depend on how much natural light you can get in your living room. But there are lots of lighter colours that can add space. Taupe is a neutral shade that can make a space feel large and elegant, with a rich tone that is perfect for rooms with few architectural details.

Light grey

Another lighter shade that can be used well in rooms with an east or west facing aspect. This grey can be a little cool though, so you might want to team it with some warmer or richer tones in your furniture. Think about the dark greens and blues of the Swyft Model 01 and Model 02.

Once you have chosen your living room colour, you need to think about how best to configure your furniture to maximise the available space. One of the best ways to save valuable space in a living room is to get a corner sofa. This gives you ample seating room but takes up less space and creates less dead space than a suite with chairs. Check out the Swyft Model 03 to see what we mean.

The Swyft range comes in a choice of fabric sofas, with modern, contemporary and comfortable styles in a selection of colours to match all of the above paint tones. All our model styles are 24h delivery sofas and come flat packed for extra convenience and easy assembly, even in very small living spaces.

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