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Should my sofa be lighter or darker than my walls?

  • colour palettes
  • sofa colours
  • wall colours
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Olivia Lowry
should my sofa be lighter or darker than my walls

This week, we’re giving you everything you need to know about living room colour combinations. Getting a new sofa or redecorating is a pretty big deal, and it can be tricky to get it right. Some of the most frequent questions we get at Swyft are about which sofa fabric to get, and what wall colours work with each of our fabrics. 

In our most recent poll over on our Instagram, 62% of you said that you needed some help with your decor decisions. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s a good idea to choose your sofa colour first, and decorate around it. The idea here is that it’s much easier to switch up your wall colour if you change your mind. If you’ve already got your sofa, it’s time to choose if you want a neutral, or stand-out contrasting piece. 

What wall colour goes with dark sofas?

We’re big fans of dark sofa shades for all sorts of interior styles. Dark fabric sofas have more impact if they’re in a colourful shade, making them a great option if you’re into bolder statements. Because of their shade, dark sofas are ideal for those with pets, kids, or anything else that causes the occasional mess. On a styling note, furniture in dark colours creates a cosy, warm feeling - perfect for laidback living rooms.

Dark colours don’t just cover monochrome. For fans of a neutral interior, darker shades of sofa mean charcoal black, elephant grey and deep brown. These give off a contemporary feel and work well to contrast with lighter walls. Colourful dark sofas come in vine green, burgundy reds, impactful paprika oranges, dark Teal blue and more - best for eclectic and stand-out looks.

Dark sofas, light walls

Model 02 sofa, Charcoal

For contemporary and modern interiors, dark sofas help to provide a focal point, which is important in neutral or monochrome spaces. Because the room is light and airy, this charcoal black Model 02 sofa grabs attention without needing bright colours. When put against a white wall and grey polished concrete floor, the dark fabric helps to cement this sofa area as its own interior zone, made for comfort and relaxation.

Model 06 sofa, Vine

A country home feel is created in this space with a Model 06 sofa in Vine green. This darker shade is colourful enough to grab attention but not enough to distract from the other elements of the room. On the panelled walls, a beige colour with green undertones helps tie the room together, framed by two sconce lights. This is a great example of a dark sofa working well with a lighter-coloured wall of a similar hue.

Dark sofas, dark walls

Combinations of dark sofas and dark walls can and do work well together. These pairings work best in larger rooms or those that get enough light. If you’re after this look, the most important thing is to make sure the room is sufficiently lit, as dark on dark can make the space feel smaller. Add lamps, and make full use of all available natural light.

Model 05 loveseat, Teal

Dark-panelled walls make a great statement against this blue loveseat. The difference here is made by styling these two elements with light-coloured accessories. If you’re going to recreate this look, choose a light-toned area rug, and make sure it’s slightly larger than the sofa or chair itself.

Model 06 sofa, Burgundy

Dark doesn’t have to mean cold colours. If you’re after the most contrasting look for your living room, choose two bold, deep colours for the sofa and the walls. To do this, choose a warm-toned fabric like rich red, and set it in front of a cool-toned dark shade such as blue or grey. The added texture of this Chenille fabric provides even more stand-out contrast, elevating this living room look further.

What wall colour goes with light sofas?

Light-coloured sofas are really versatile to style, making them a great option if you think you might change your mind about your wall colour further down the line. No matter what fabric type they are, light-coloured sofas bright a bright, breezy feel to interiors. This makes them perfect for smaller spaces, or spaces where natural light isn’t as easily found.  

Neutral sofas in lighter tones look right at home in Scandi, Contemporary, Traditional and Country style homes. Consider beiges and whites like Pumice, Sand, Ecru and Bone when looking for a lighter sofa colour. Find punchy but subtle sofa colours in Blush pink, Turquoise blue and Sage green.

Light sofa, dark walls

Combining a light sofa with dark walls is a great route to go down if you’ve already got a bolder, darker colour in mind for your walls. Statement tones like olive green and rich terracotta pink are taking over, and make the perfect contrasting backdrop for a light-coloured sofa.

Model 01 sofa, Light Grey

Plaster pink gets a grown-up makeover in this living room look with a feature art piece in warm tones. This toned-down but still colourful palette keeps the focus on all areas and makes this sofa less of a statement, and more just another harmonious element of the room. The light grey velvet fabric makes for easy styling, and the wall colour can be revisited as tastes and styles change.

Model 03 sofa, Ivory

Where walls are dark and dramatic, a contrast with a vivid white sofa turns heads. The rich, dark blue of this library room might usually find itself pairing with a chesterfield style sofa, but is instead made contemporary with a corner sofa in Boucle fabric. White and blue is a tried and tested combination, and this idea of dark walls and light furniture can apply to more colours than just blue.

Light sofa, light walls

Bring a bright, summery feel into rooms with light sofas and light walls. The key here is in anchoring down the whole look with accessories and soft furnishings, so the light-coloured sofa doesn’t get lost in the look. Choose this combination if you’re thinking about a certain colour scheme, but don’t want to commit to permanently painting the walls.

Model 05 sofa, Turquoise

There’s no shortage of light in this airy loft apartment living room. This look draws on pastel colours in the rest of the room that tie it together. By choosing a colourful sofa in a subtle shade, there’s no danger of it blending into the background of the crisp, white walls.

Model 04 sofa, Bone

If you’re working with light-coloured walls plus a light-coloured sofa, it’s important to break up the space in other ways to avoid looking clinical and cold. By placing this sofa in front of a plush pink velvet curtain, a subtle contrast is created that means the walls don’t have to be painted. Changing out the soft furnishings is made easy thanks to the colour of this light-coloured neutral velvet sofa.

Should a sofa be lighter or darker than my walls?

This is really down to two things - your own personal preference and the size of your room. In general, lighter walls and darker sofas work best for smaller rooms. If your space is bigger or lit very well, go for darker walls and lighter furniture. Each space is individual to you, so if you’re a fan of an all-over bright look, it’s fine to do so, and likewise for a dark-on-dark interior palette.

Does dark furniture darken a room?

Dark furniture doesn’t necessarily darken a room overall. Dark-coloured sofas can make interior ‘zoning’ easier, and create a focal point. If your room is particularly small and doesn’t get a lot of natural light, then adding darker furniture can make it feel smaller. For this reason, you should look at where your light is coming from, and add more lamps and overhead lights before making the commitment to dark furniture.

How do you decorate a room with a white sofa?

White sofas are easy to decorate with as they go with most colours and styles. If your sofa is bright white, avoid similar tones in the wall colour as this can end up looking too clinical and not cosy enough. Pastels, warm neutrals, earthy hues and bold colours all work well on walls as a backdrop for white sofas.
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