Color Ideas for Living Rooms
Whether it's a spot for hanging out each evening or reserved for special entertaining, the living room is a social space. To pick a color palette that makes it a comfortable and inviting room, start by evaluating the space's characteristics, and then choose hues accordingly.
Loads of Sunshine
Windows, skylights, or French doors to a patio -- these architectural features usher daylight into some lucky living rooms. In choosing a color for such a bright, airy space, you have the freedom to venture into saturated jewel tones, such as peacock blue, or concentrated earthy hues, such as slate gray. The abundance of daylight will keep the room light in spite of these rich colors. One hue to avoid: Tricky yellows. Daylight will amplify these golden tones, and you'll end up with a brighter room than you bargained for.
When a living room is dark throughout the day, you have a choice to make: You can manufacture light with sunny hues, such as ivory or butter yellow, or, conversely, play up the room's coziness with embracing darker, muted tones, such as pumpkin or mocha. To choose your path, decide which type of room would make you want to linger and relax. If you enjoy being in the space, your guests will too.
Furnished and Fine
When you love your comfy sofa or want to keep the painting of Grandma's barn, your color palette will be defined by your furnishings. Look for clues in the items themselves. Does the sofa upholstery have a pretty tan stripe? Do you want to see more of the painting's sky blue hue? Use these color suggestions for the room's background surfaces, such as the walls, flooring, or fabric window treatments. You can take the items to the paint counter at the home center to have the colors matched exactly, or pick a hue that is a shade or two paler.
Empty and Waiting
If you are just moving into your home, or are ready to overhaul the living room entirely, you can build a completely new palette. Seek inspiration in the well-decorated rooms you admire, such as a friend's home, the set of a movie, or on a favorite design blog. Once you have a space to copy, list the three hues that work together. Most interior designers use a main color and two accent hues. The main color may be a sage green that covers the walls and sectional; one accent might be in the mahogany-finish of the woodwork and flooring; another accent will be in the persimmon pillows or garnet-color lamp base. You don't have to replicate the formula exactly (your woodwork might be white, for example), but the model room gives you a starting point to tweak for your own preferences.
Suited to You
How you use your living room also dictates the direction of your color choices. Is the living room an off-limits space reserved for special occasions? Restricted use means less chance for wear and tear, and you can be liberal with pale hues. Or, if the living room hosts everyday lounging and Monday night football get-togethers, then it needs to have color camouflage built into it. Sofa upholstery that is the same shade as the pet's hair makes household maintenance a little easier, and dark floors won't reveal traces of last week's guacamole spill.