The Best Living Room Paint Colors to Update Your Space

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated October 15, 2021
Couple picking out paint colors
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Fall in love with your living room with the right paint color choice

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Whether you’re entertaining, indulging in your favorite Netflix series on the couch, or creating a makeshift home gym in the middle of your space, the living room is one of the most used rooms in a home. Because you likely spend a significant amount of time in this room, it’s important to find the right color to match your style.

Because it is such a high-traffic area, living room paint schemes set the tone for the rest of the home. For this reason, it's especially important you carefully choose the mood and style you want to achieve before you begin this interior painting project, so you can pick the paint colors that best convey your desired tone.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to take into account the size of the room, light sources and any unique architectural elements, as they can impact which color will look best in your space. 

1. Modern Grays

Modern gray painted living room
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Gray paint colors for living rooms are often a go-to color choice because they complement a wide variety of styles. When searching for the perfect gray, focus specifically on the undertones in the paint swatch and the light sources in your living room.

Light Grays

Light gray makes a small room feel light and airy while still adding an element of dimension. 

For south-facing rooms exposed to natural afternoon light, consider a cooler light gray to balance out warm light sources such as Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore

For north-facing rooms or spaces with cool colored flooring or furniture, a gray with warm undertones, like Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams, can refresh the space.

Dark Grays

Dark gray is a trendy color that can add depth and dimension to your living room. A charcoal gray such as Graphite Charcoal by Behr can give a clean yet cozy look to your room, especially when paired with white trim and accents.

2. Crisp Whites

Family in white painted living room
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White walls can make a room feel open and spacious but remember, not all white paint is created equal. Small variations can affect how white paint looks on your walls.

True Whites

Pure white paint is bright and can make your living room feel bigger if you have a small space. Try a versatile and all-purpose color like Pure White by Sherwin Williams for a clean and fresh look in your living room. 


Most white paint that you see in stores is actually off-white as it usually has different color undertones and shades. Choosing an off-white, light living room paint color has a similar effect as painting a living room pure white by creating the illusion that the room is bigger. However, compared to pure white, off-white shades of cream or ivory are a bit less stark. Atrium White or French Canvas by Benjamin Moore are creamy shades of soft white that complement a variety of style preferences.

3. Timeless Neutrals

Neutral open concept living room
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Neutral color schemes can be used in almost any situation and can be shades of brown, taupe, gray, and off-white. Pair with neutral furniture and accents for a monochromatic or muted color scheme. Alternatively, combine neutral walls with bright furniture or a bright accent wall to accentuate a focal point in your living room.

Light Neutrals

Choose between light tans, greiges (gray and beige), taupes, or almonds to brighten living rooms that may lack natural light sources. Consider a light taupe with warm undertones such as No Filter by Clare to open up smaller spaces and create a balanced look.

Dark Neutrals

Dark neutrals work well in larger living rooms or rooms with high ceilings. Choose a deeper neutral such as Virtual Taupe by Sherwin Williams for a rich and cozy feel.

4. Sophisticated Blacks

Contemporary living room with black walls and leather furniture next to dining area and kitchen
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Black may not be the first color that comes to mind when choosing living room paint colors but it can create a dramatic-yet-luxurious look in your room. Use a shade of black as an accent wall to make a space feel more intimate. Or paint your entire living room for a bold statement. When choosing black paint, pay close attention to the finish, as the level of sheen can be more pronounced. While black paint can be visually striking in a matte finish, remember that this finish is more susceptible to scuff marks and scratches.

Cool Blacks

Cool black paints are composed of violet and blue undertones and add a sophisticated touch. A black with navy blue undertones like Inkwell by Sherwin Williams can give your living room a modern update, especially when paired with marble or bright white accents. 

Warm Blacks

Warmer blacks contain red and brown undertones and crave high levels of natural light. Onyx by Benjamin Moore pairs well with natural woods or soft yellow accents. 

5. Lively Yellows

Bright yellow living room
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Yellow is an eye-catching color that can be used in a living room to either make a bright statement or create a muted and relaxing feel. Yellow can be used in small and large spaces alike and works well with a variety of styles. 

Bright Yellows

A sunny and bright yellow is a powerful hue but can add dimension and character to your living room. Golden Hour by Clare is a true yellow that pairs well with a warm color scheme or conversely, creamy white accents to accentuate trim or decorative pieces in the space. (Bonus points if you have a view of lush greenery or trees from your windows.)

Pale Yellows

For a more subtle look, consider a shade like Hawthorne Yellow by Benjamin Moore. Pale yellow adds brightness to your living room and still provides a level of warmth. While traditionally, pale yellow is a great choice for Victorian spaces, it can also work well in modern or transitional living rooms. Pair it with deep browns and caramels, off-white, or teal for a cheerful and expansive look.  

6. Tranquil Blues

Family laughing in blue painted living room
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Blue can be a broad category, but appeals to many tastes. From bright blue to dark navy, there are enough shades of blues to work in almost any living room. Consider a lighter blue for a relaxing and subdued look or a darker blue to add rich and evocative tones to your space.

Light Blues

Light blue works in large and small spaces alike as an alternative to white or off-white by adding depth and dimension while opening up your living room. Consider a shade like Prelude by Behr that has gray undertones to give off a serene atmosphere.

Dark Blues

Dark blue can make a large living room feel more intimate but don’t shy away from this color if you have a small room, either. Use a classic navy like Naval by Sherwin Williams as an accent wall or for the entire room combined with white trim or wainscoting and rattan textures for a coastal feel.

7. Bold Jewel Tones

Emerald green painted living room -

Jewel tones are highly saturated colors that derive their name from gemstones such as sapphire, peridot, emerald, and ruby. Choosing a jewel tone for your living room paint color is a bold color choice and makes a trendy statement. If you like the idea of using jewel tones but don’t want to commit to painting your entire living room one of these hues, consider painting an accent wall to add a pop of color to the room.

Emerald Greens

Emerald green walls are highly saturated but can still be used in small and large rooms alike with the right decorating and lighting. Emerald Isle by Benjamin Moore is a vivid jewel tone that pairs well with natural or stained woods, caramel and neutral tones, or black and white accents.


Violet paint such as Deep Plum by Glidden is a moody hue that, when combined with a neutral palette, creates a striking color combination. If you like this hue but don’t want to paint your entire living room violet, consider using it for an accent wall or hall closet. 

8. Earthy Browns and Greens

Kids jumping on brown leather couch in earth tone living room
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Earth tones are inviting colors that come from elements found in nature like greenery, sand, rust, and soil. Earth tones usually contain a hint of brown and are a great alternative to neutrals by adding personality and warmth to your living room. 


Consider a natural brown like Earth Brown by Benjamin Moore for a rich and homey feel in a large space. Or, choose a sandy earth tone like Natural Tan by Sherwin Williams paired with green plants and terracotta accents to open up your space. 


Green earth tones can be used to add depth and warmth and a soft green like Green Earth by Sherwin Williams can be visually striking paired with creams and natural wood accents. 

9. Soft Pastels

Pastel pink living room -

Pastel color palettes add airiness and lightness to a living room with an element of personalization. Pastels aren’t just reserved for nurseries and shades of mint green, pale yellow, and light pink can give your space a trendy refresh.


Pastel pink or blush doesn’t have to be hyper-feminine and a color like Calamine by Farrow & Ball can give a modern update to your living room when paired with taupes and rich burgundy accents. 


Consider a shade of light orange such as Gumdrops by Behr to create a warm and sunny atmosphere. Pair with patterns for a bold statement or natural teak wood for a mid-century modern feel.

Considerations When Choosing Paint for Your Living Room

Woman working from home on the couch in her living room
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Before you pick up your paintbrush, it’s helpful to understand the different factors that can affect how paint is perceived when it's on the wall. While you may see an inspirational living room picture and fall in love with the color, remember to take into consideration the specific factors in your space to make the best selection for you.

Layout and Style

Think about the layout of your living room and the overall architectural style of your space when choosing a color for your living room walls. 

  • Open-concept vs. closed floor plan

  • Size

  • Architectural style

  • Fireplace or focal points in the room

  • Cohesiveness with the rest of your home

  • Existing molding, trim, or wainscoting

Light Sources

Light plays a large role in how color is perceived when applied to the wall. Depending on the light source and the amount of light in your living room, certain colors may appear different than what you see on a paint swatch.

  • Amount of windows

  • Size of windows

  • Ceiling height

  • Doorways

  • Direction the room faces

  • Light fixtures

  • Type of light bulbs

How the Room Is Used

You may choose a different color for your living room depending on who uses the room and how often. This also can dictate the finish and type of paint you decide on. Paint finishes such as flat, semi-gloss, satin, and eggshell all have various purposes and reflect light differently. 

A paint that has a higher sheen is more likely to reflect light, making the color appear darker. For example, do you have children that use the room as a play area? In this instance, you may choose a satin finish paint with stain-resistant qualities.

  • Who uses the room

  • How often do you use the room

  • The finish of the paint

  • The number of coats you apply


Furniture can take time and consideration to pick out and in many cases, is not frequently replaced. If you have a couch or accent chair you love, use that as your inspiration and choose paint colors around that. Alternatively, if you plan on swapping furniture or don’t have pieces picked out yet, choose a neutral color that will complement any new furniture you buy.

  • Amount of furniture

  • Style of furniture

  • Color of furniture

  • Hardware finishes (brass vs. nickel)

  • How often do you change your furniture


Like furniture, flooring is not easily changed, so it’s helpful to work around the existing flooring unless you have plans to update it soon. Certain types and colors of flooring will pull different hues from the paint color on the walls. For instance, a neutral-colored carpet will blend well with most shades of paint compared with a bright rug or glossy hardwood floor that may reflect more light. 

  • Carpet color

  • Hardwood color

  • Finish of the flooring

  • Area rug size and color

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