Your living room colors need to be chosen so they make your room a place where all the family will feel at ease.

It isn't a place to experiment, or try out ambitious schemes.

Sometimes you'll already have items to work around (sofas, carpet, rugs etc). If so, you already have a head start. Use your existing colors on which to base your ideas.

Or you may be starting from scratch and have a completely free hand. In this case you don't have the discipline of having to match your existing living room colors.

If you are completely stuck, then the best way out is the simplest one. Look at as many pictures of living rooms as you can find - this website, library books, magazines etc. Find out which color schemes you find yourself drawn to, and use them as your inspiration.

Getting the balance right

You probably won't want to experiment with garish or brash colors for this room. If all the family are going to use it you don't want them to avoid using it because they don't like the colors.

Nor, on the other hand, do you want it to be too plain and boring. So getting the balance between these two extremes is a good objective.


living room colors modern

This modern living room shows the use of contrasting colors to provide depth and interest.

The green of one sofa balances the green of the two rugs. Dark wood furniture and one sofa give a contrast. The fabric of the single chair (bottom left) combines the black and green in the pattern. Gray walls and ceiling provide the background - if these were white the result would be too clinical.

Colors have certain properties. Some are more suitable for large rooms, while others influence how big or small a room can appear to us. You can find out more about these features in the color section.

Starting with...

When you have an idea of the living room colors you want, what should you start with? Floor or walls?

As you'll probably find you have far more choice of living room colors in paints and wallpapers, it makes sense to get the floor fixed up first, where you don't have as much choice.

If you're keeping the floorboards, or having a wood finish floor fitted, then select the color you like best. If you're going for carpets, then have a look at carpet samples to pick the best one. Make sure you look at the sample in different positions in the room and in different lighting conditions (daylight, night, artificial light).


living room traditional

This traditional living room illustrates a classic living room color scheme.

The fabric used for the curtains and drapes combines blue and gold in its design.

The blue is used for the carpet, and a toned down version of the gold is used for the walls. The ceiling and paintwork is a lighter version again. The upholstery fabric is basically a soft tan/gold with blue elements. A dark bookcase balances the dark fireplace.


Secrets of color schemes

Decide on the main background color for walls, floor, or both. This gives you a base to work from.

One of the simplest ways to plan your scheme is to stick to one major color and liven it up with accent colors in pillows, lampshades, pictures, plants etc. If you use a fairly neutral background other colors will then stand out giving a vibrant and cheerful effect.

Another way is to keep to one main color but introduce it in all it's different shades and tones. See the pages on color to learn more about this technique.

Here are some color charts which show how colors can be used in different room schemes.


If you plan to decorate the walls of your living room by painting them, you may be interested in this product.

The Shortcut to Perfect Paint Colors - Paint Color Cheat Sheets


Paint or wallpaper?

Once you have your floor selected, decide on the wall and paintwork colors. Living room colors can be just about anything. But as you probably want the room to be reasonably restful, avoid loud and brash colors.

Don't make the usual mistake of thinking that you'll get the job done much quicker by painting rather then using wallpaper. You may get it done quicker, but painting will still take time if you want to do a good job. Preparing walls and wood for paint is an essential part of painting. Painting isn't an easy option.

living room green sofa

This photo again illustrates the use of a fabric to combine the colors for the living room.

The curtain fabric contains the greens and yellows used for the sofa and the walls, together with a touch of red. Soft yellow and green are a very restful combination.

Don't forget with home decorating to use your chosen colors in your accessories. The two pictures contain the green, while the sofa pillows bring in the red from the curtain fabric.


Painting your walls

You may wonder about some of the select but more expensive paints available today. Although these may not have as wide a selection of colors as the main brands, the colors are carefully chosen. Also, these paints are manufactured differently, and have a chalkier finish, which gives them a superior look.

Whatever sort you go for, you should always buy a 'tester' or 'sample' pot to try. When you do, paint an area on two adjacent walls on the far side of the room from the window. You'll notice these walls reflect light slightly differently, and this will show up in the paint finish.

Note that you'll often have to use more than one coat of paint, despite what you may read in the paint instructions! Some walls are more porous and appear to suck the paint up as soon as it's applied. Let each coat dry and see how it looks.


living room grey

Contemporary colors have brought an added dimension to living room colors.

Here cream upholstery blends with gray curtain fabric. Grays and blacks from the rest of the room are blended together in the pillows.

Using these types of colors needs a delicate touch. You can easily overpower a room if you go too strong with the accent colors. Notice the deep red in the pillows - only a very small amount of red is sufficient.





Why not use wallpaper instead of paint? Wallpaper can give a softer and more homely effect. You can also obtain more subtle finishes which can be difficult or even impossible to achieve using paint unless you employ the services of an expert.

If you do use wallpaper, it's advisable to cross line the walls with a good quality lining paper. This gives an even finish - especially on rough walls - and you'll find the paper is easier to hang.

Ceiling and paintwork

If you're not sure what color to use on the ceiling and paintwork for your living room colors, go for off-white. You can't go wrong with this. Yes, it's playing safe, but you can always paint them another color later if you want.


You may have already had a look at the pages on this site relating to color schemes. If not, click here go to the Color Schemes section. There you'll get some valuable ideas on choosing your color scheme. If you're not too sure about your likes and dislikes, take a look at Discover your own interior color scheme)


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