How to Add Color to a Room No Matter What Your Palette Is

dark teal living room
Photo: Marty Baldwin

Color and pattern can take a neutral living room from blah to beautiful. And you're not just limited to paint to make your space pop. Step outside the box and add personality to your home with these living room color ideas.

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Work in Warmth

living room with green chairs
Edmund Barr

White walls, seating, and a neutral mantel let strategic pops of color go a long way. Hints of coral and lime green bring life to this living room, while black accents help ground the mainly white space. A wood floor in a matte finish adds visual warmth underfoot.

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Pattern Partners

different pattern rug and couch
Edmund Barr

A bold patterned rug dresses up white walls and serves as the inspiration for this room's color scheme. Although the area rug and surrounding textiles contain different patterns, they feature the same colors and complement each other. Choosing furniture with solid fabrics within the color scheme grounds the look and separates the patterns, like this blue chair and leather-top coffee table.

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Easy Ways to Add Personality

You don't have to paint walls to add interest to a neutral living room. Try these simple tips for elevating the hub of your home.

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Keep It Simple

neutral living room with red coffee table
Tria Giovan

Balancing bright colors with strong neutrals is how to add color to a room with a livable look. Accents of peppy pink, lime green, and yellow are sprinkled over a foundation of assertive neutrals: on the brown chair, gray sofa, dark wood floors, and black light fixtures.

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Add an Area Rug

green living room with matching chairs
John Bessler

Living room wall colors should work with furniture and decor, not fight against them. In this colorful living room, pale sage walls are almost a neutral background for other, more vibrant colors. A patterned area rug combines orange, pink, purple, green, and blue. It defines the color palette in this room, which helps the other accents and furniture pieces feel unified. One large piece of wall art is how to add color to a room without overwhelming the palette.

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Alternate Accessories

stone fireplace in living room
Anthony Masterson

Grey living rooms shouldn't remind you of a rainy day. Instead, use a neutral background as the canvas for pops of bright color, clean lines, and funky patterns. In this living room, a coat of chic gray paint on the walls, a handsome stone fireplace, and chocolate-brown tables are the foundation. Colorful plants, art, and accessories keep the room from looking cold. When you feel like a change in the color scheme, simply swap out the accessories for a whole new look.

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Winning Color Combo

blue and neutral living room
Lisa Romerein

This living room was clean and serene, with beige walls, primarily white furniture, and a white ceiling. Limiting color to the sofa, pillows, and a few key accessories gives the room a wake-up call while maintaining its serenity. While this is easy to do with almost any color combination, here, shiny gold, leafy green, and navy blue stripes give the room preppy flair. Another combination, ocean blue and sea glass green would be beachy, while barn red, goldenrod, and taupe could go country.

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Add Living Room Color in Stages

Want an easy way to add personality to the hub of your home? Learn how to layer colors in stages for a stunning final result.

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Create a Balance

black and white living room
John Bessler

Try this straightforward approach for how to add color to a room: commit to two primary hues dispersed evenly throughout the space. Here, bold black and shimmery gold accessories are placed symmetrically to create a visually stunning space. The stand-out gold frame against the painted wood paneling drives the eye towards the center and makes the black and gold pair even more dynamic. Choose asymmetrical art featuring the same color scheme for an element of surprise.

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Sherbet Color Palette

living room with plush pink couches
Nathan Kirkman

Bubble-gum pink sofas decorated with bright sherbet-color pillows make this living room truly stand out. Solid gray-glue walls, a white chandelier, and a geometrical bookshelf balance the splashy couch and pillows. When incorporating lots of bright, bold colors, keep balance and scale in mind so the space doesn't come across as over-the-top. If this room were to incorporate a rug, it would be wise to stick with a neutral tone to prevent competing colors.

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White Canvas

living room with blue statement wall
Kim Cornelison

Living room colors pack an extra punch when used against white walls and sofas. A saturated blue accent wall is the starting point for the infusion of color in this crisp white living room. Rich gold, bold prints, and a wild rug complement the spring-like nature of the peppy sofa. Subtle metallic and mirrored accents, such as the tables and light fixtures, add shine to complete the airy, family-friendly look.

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Add a Splash of Red

blue living room with red and gold accents
Jean Allsopp

Some of the best living room wall color ideas are a part of a well-thought-out theme. Favorite sports teams, vacation spots, or a beloved era could influence a family's decor style. Here, layered shades of red and blue mingle to add dimension to this colorful space. Large, blank walls offer a display for gallery walls.

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Mix Warm and Cool Colors

green and red living room
David A. Land

Rich blues and greens are warmed up with pops of orange-reds in this small, eclectic living room. A hint of warm colors can take the chill off a cool color palette. With various colors, a white sofa, leopard print pillows, and a white coffee table become neutral pieces that allow saturated colors to truly shine. If you love a patterned area rug but worry it will be a distraction, opt for a smaller size and layer it over a neutral area rug for grounding.

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Incorporate Your Travels

living room with dark ceiling
Jim Franco

Fabulous fabrics and continuous color add color, giving this space a global bazaar feel. Spice and jewel box hues, such as curry orange, sapphire, alexandrite, and emerald, add richness to the style. A nail head trim chair and a glitzy bar cart provide a youthful oomph. At the same time, the colors in the detailed oriental rug are repeated in the throw pillows and centerpiece items. 

The cherry on top of this perfect room is the dark navy blue ceiling which keeps the white walls from looking too airy.

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Play with Patterns

living room with mix of patterns
Heather Anne Thomas

Modern living room colors and patterns partner to infuse flair into this living room. Combining navy, aqua, and mustard yellow make for a relaxing yet vibrant color palette. Stripes, ikat, and other geometric patterns help the eye travel through the spacious room. Varying the scale of the patterns, along with large swaths of neutrals (on the sofa and walls), helps pace the exuberant look.

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Create an Accent Wall

blue accent wall
Michael Partenio

For a color addition that's not too strong, paint one wall and leave the others white. Here, the blue wall stands out against the white ceiling, rug, and adjacent wall. The combination of blue and white invites the light from outside into the room, creating a feeling of openness. Adding accessories in colors from the same blue family helps the accent wall feel at home.

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Subtle and Sweet Palette

Light blue living room
Edmund Barr

Living room colors don't need to be bright or bold to make a big impact in a space. In this room, powder blue walls and a white fireplace make a lovely pair. Identical tall, swoop armchairs and flared ottomans match the color of the walls, while decorative rosy pink pillows add a touch of warmth. For a bit of shine, choose a bejeweled chandelier that glimmers with the natural light pouring in to complete an elegant look.

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New Twist

small living room, sofa, area rug
Marty Baldwin

Bright, graphic artwork amps up this cozy family room style. A floating gallery shelf with blue-hued prints puts a surprising contemporary twist on a traditionally rooted room. The adjacent wall is proof that you can fill a bold-patterned wallpaper with artwork. The key to doing this is to keep the color scheme, in this case, black and white, consistent between the wallpaper and the print.

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Switch Up Window Treatments

living room with bold drapes
Richard Leo Johnson

To add an easy splash of color, outfit windows in treatments with bold hues and unique patterns. Here, unlikely chevron curtains transform this muted space into a fabulously lively living room. Place a few accessories mimicking the color scheme around the room, such as the striped vintage chairs shown here. Stacked white frames placed between the windows tie the neutral wall colors together. To make the room appear larger, hang the curtains from the ceiling down to the floor.

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Contrast Trim

dark teal living room
Marty Baldwin

You may be challenged by how to add color to a room. One way to make it easy is to choose whether you want a warm or cool palette and build from there. In this cool living room, the saturated teal wall is the star, and other shades of blue, violet, and gray complement it. For a bit of contrast, the wood elements in the room have warm undertones that look great in contrast to the other colors.

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