Living room paint ideas: Create a stylish final flourish

living room painting ideas
(Image credit: Little Greene)

Living room paint ideas have the potential to completely transform both the look and feel of this important space within the home. This is a room that often has to function in many different ways — as somewhere to welcome guests into your home, to gather together as a family or maybe simply to kick back and relax after a long day. 

Even though your room layout will, to a degree, dictate how successful this space is at fulfilling all these requirements, so too will the way it is decorated.

The shades, textures and designs you use to paint your living room walls will have a massive impact on how the space feels to spend time in. If the room feels dark, seems cramped, or if the room feels too open and sterile, your paint choices can help with this. Paint choices can also go a long way to elevating your modern living room ideas.

We've collated some of the most stunning living room painting ideas out there, from simple and subtle to bold and beautiful — whatever look you are dreaming of, we have all the inspiration you'll need to get started. 

Tailoring your living room paint ideas

There are many considerations you should be aware of when selecting the right living room paint colours for your home.

In addition to the size of your living room, you need to be thinking about how much natural light it receives at different times of the day, along with when you will most be using the room. 

So, if you are after small living room ideas, you need to be thinking about choosing shades that will work to make the space feel bigger (and that doesn't always have to mean white or neutral by the way). 

Perhaps you only really spend time in your living room during the evening, in which case you might prefer a deep, rich shade that works towards helping cosy up the space, or maybe you want to use your paint colours to visually zone an open plan kitchen, dining and living room arrangement.

"Consider the atmosphere you want to create; calm and cocooned or cheerful and vibrant?" says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene. "To create a sense of peace and relaxation, natural stone colours are good choices. For something more impactful whilst remaining intimate, consider darker paint colours."

The point is, the paint colours you choose need to be tailored your home, your living room layout ideas and your individual requirements as opposed to something that might look great in someone else's home or on social media.

This can also mean choosing the right paint finish — it doesn't just apply to colour.

"A busy household with children, dogs, sticky mitts and craft afternoons will need a different approach to a grown-up household where cocktail parties by candlelight are more de riguer," says Ruth. She suggests using hardwearing and washable paints in family living rooms.

The ideas we've gathered together here encompass all kinds of spaces so there is bound to be something to spark your imagination.

1. Opt for subtle colour combinations for relaxing rooms

living room painted in soft pink and neutrals

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

Colour need not be shouty to make an impact — often picking subtle variations of your favourite shades will really allow the architectural details of the space to shine. 

Pink and green is a classic colour combination and can work in period homes as well as contemporary schemes. Here, the shades Orchard Pink and Wild Olive from Fired Earth have been used on the walls and the deep skirting boards painted in Verd-Antique. Painting skirting boards a slightly different hue from the walls, means that attention is drawn to their profile and depth. 

2. Combine painted panelling with wallpaper in a living room

living room with grey half panelled walls and palm tree wallpaper

(Image credit: Paint & Paper Library)

Using a combination of wallpaper and paint is a brilliant way to add interest to walls or to add a more intimate feel to rooms with very high ceilings. To add even more character to a space, incorporate some great wall panelling ideas too — painted half panelling used in conjunction with a patterned wallpaper featuring similar colours gives stunning results. 

Here, Lighthouse Palm wallpaper from Paint & Paper Library has been used above wood panelling painted in their Tallanstown Grey. Painting the floorboards in Stable Green, a deep olive shade, really brings the whole scheme together. 

3. Make the most of high ceilings with solid paint colours

soft green living room with stone fireplace

(Image credit: Little Greene)

If you are lucky enough to live in a house with soaring ceilings, make the most of the drama they can add to a space with your paint colour choices. 

One idea we love is to paint the walls along with everything affixed to them – such as radiators, dado and picture rails – a matching colour before painting the ceiling in a contrasting shade to really draw the eye up to it.

Here, Little Greene's Baluster shade has been used on the walls and radiator, with Portland Stone Pale on the ceiling and cornice.

4. Learn how to use green paint well in living rooms

green painted living room with large windows

(Image credit: COAT)

Green is a shade that needs to be used with care — using the wrong shade of green can really ruin a space. With all colours, it is the undertones that change the their 'temperature'. 

So, with greens, a grey undertone can add a smart, contemporary feel, while yellow undertones will add a warmer, cosier finish. Greens with brown undertones are also perfect for warming up a space, while blue undertones give a crisper look. 

In north-facing rooms you want to avoid cooler shades of green, while south-facing living rooms can usually get away with any shade of green. 

Here, Mansard, an exclusive Heal's x COAT collaboration has been used. It has blue undertones and pairs brilliantly with dark furniture and wooden floors — don't forget to consider your living room flooring ideas at the same time as thinking about decoration.

5. Use your paint to create wall art in the living room

living room wall painted in soft pastel block

(Image credit: Paint & Paper Library)

Paint doesn't only have to be used as a backdrop — it can become the focal point of a room if used in the right way.

Get creative with painter's tape and section-off areas of your walls before painting blocks or shapes in colours that either clash spectacularly to make a statement, or in gently co-ordinating shades for a softer look. 

Blocks of colour painted using Caddie, Marble I and Yesterday's Flower from Paint & Paper Library have here been used to add an eye-catching contemporary feature in this space. 

6. Be bold with blue and green for a botanical look

blue and green garden room

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Remember the old saying 'blue and green should never be seen, without another colour in between?' Well, now forget it — because it just isn't true. 

Blue and green in all kinds of variations can actually work fantastically well together, giving off an energetic and fresh vibe to many different spaces. There is something fun about this colour combo that can really liven a room up — plus it works with period features as well as in super contemporary schemes. 

Here, Pale Lupin and Green Verditer from Little Greene have been used on the walls — the gorgeous leaded light windows have been drawn out by using a soft white – Linen Wash – within the reveals.

7. Use colour contrasts to draw out focal points

painted fireplace in contrast to wall

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Paint colours can be used for all kinds of things, from adding warmth to a cold-feeling room to bringing in light to a gloomy one. In addition to changing the way a room feels though, they can also be used to draw out and highlight features you are particularly fond of — such as fireplaces or mouldings.

Here, a trio of different colours has been used to ensure the beautiful fireplace and old panelled doors stand out against the cosy pink/red of the walls. The fireplace has been painted in Sage Green, the wall in Adventurer and the door in Hick's Blue, all from Little Greene

8. Be clever with neutrals in living rooms

white painted living room

(Image credit: Rug’Society/Covet House)

An all-white living room need not feel cold or sterile. Neither should sticking to a neutral paint scheme have to mean a boring end result. 

White comes in so many shade variations, from those that are crisp and pure to creamy, powdery, warm hues. 

"Warm neutrals are perfect for creating restful living spaces that bring comfort to the home throughout the seasons," says Ruth Mottershead.

While it is quite okay to use just one of these white varieties in your living room, combining several together adds interest and character. In this project, by Covet House, different whites have been used on the walls and ceiling, while the deeper colour that has been used within the shelving alcove adds another dimension. 

9. Don't be afraid of black and charcoal

charcoal painted living room with grey fireplace

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Opening a can of black or very dark grey paint can feel a little bit daunting — as can that first brush stroke of this shade, with its gothic associations. 

However, try to shake off any feelings that you might be turning your living room into the Bat Cave — charcoal, smoky greys, chocolate browns and even black can really add warmth and bags of character to a living room. 

"Dark, mysterious paint colours are extremely chic and create a wrap-around feeling when painted on all four walls," says Ruth Mottershead. 

You do need to think out your living room lighting ideas carefully for this shade to work, and if this is a room you plan on spending a lot of time in during the daytime, ideally there will be a good source of natural light entering the space to lighten the look a bit. 

Of course, if you only plan on using you living room in the evening, this won't be so much of a concern — in fact the moody, intimate feel these shades add to a room will be most welcome. 

"Dark colours are at their best in living rooms that are predominantly used in the evenings, teamed with dark flooring, sumptuous rugs, velvet fabrics and leather upholstery," says Ruth.

Here, Chocolate Colour, a a warm alternative to black from Little Greene, has been used — the ochre armchairs are the perfect match. 

10. Conjure up a sunset wall

orange and red painted living room wall

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Warm oranges, reds and yellows can work really well in living rooms, cosying up the space at the same time as adding a little energy.

"Vivid hues and lively tones work well in living rooms that are made for entertaining," says Ruth Mottershead. "From after dinner drinks to children’s parties, vibrant colours will add an immeasurable sense of joy to already jovial occasions."

If you like the idea of these sunset shades but are a little unsure of how to use them, follow Ruth's advice and choose more subtle furniture so that the room doesn't end up feeling too busy. 

"Make the walls do all the talking with paired-back furniture pieces and ground energetic schemes with fresh colours like our French Grey Pale on ceilings."

In this bold scheme, Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in Antoinette, Barcelona Orange and Emperor's Silk has been used in a rectangular pattern.

11. Jump on the green living room bandwagon

green living room ideas

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Green living rooms have been one of the most sought after home trends recently. There are many reasons that may be behind this. Not only is green a very restorative shade, with its associations with health and rejuvination, but it is also available in a wide range of variations to suit all schemes, from refreshing teal and lime to calming and elegant emerald and forest greens. Green also works really well with most other colours.

In this cosy yet refined living space, Puck from Little Greene has been used on the walls and looks great combined with the modern grey furniture. 

12. Unleash happy vibes with yellow living room walls

yellow living room with blue sofa and french doors

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

Yellow is a shade that many people are still a little wary of — but they needn't be. There are many different shades of yellow out there to choose from and it pairs wonderfully with a range of other colours, such as grey and both baby and navy blues. 

"Yellow is a wonderful shade that brings positivity to a space whether used all over, on all four walls and the ceiling, or as a colour highlight," says Ruth Mottershead.

This living room is a brilliant example of using yellow well — the walls have been painted in Hustle at 5pm, while Skylon Grey has been used around the French windows. The palette is then cleverly echoed on the painted drawers. All paints are from Fired Earth

13. Bring the outside in with paint choices

living room with green wall panelling and patterned green wallpaper

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Certain colours are better than others at creating a nurturing and restorative sense of nature in the home than others — key to biophilic design. If this is a look that tickles your fancy, greens and blues work particularly well, as can earthy or sandy shades of brown.

The way in which you use these colours and the way you pair them with other decorative features in your living room will also have an effect on how successful this look is. 

Using wallpaper to draw out a shade you particularly love, especially if it features motifs associated with the natural world, is a brilliant trick.

Here, Clutterbuck wallpaper has been combined with Sage & Onions on the lower section of the wall and dado rail, with Wood Ash on the ceiling — all from Little Greene

"Select the dominant colour in the paper and use this colour to paint all the woodwork in the room and use one of the other colours in the paper to guide furniture choices," suggests Ruth Mottershead." 

14. Create a calm living room with pink paint ideas

soft pink living room

(Image credit: COAT)

Pink is a shade that is extremely versatile. From sizzling hot pinks that make you want to party, to deep plummy pinks that feel intimate and cocooning. 

One of the best shades of pink paint for living rooms is a soft, powdery baby pink, with undertones of cream or grey. They induce feelings of restfulness and relaxation — ideal in living rooms. Wondering what colour furniture to pair pink with? Creams, grey, white, navy and green are amongst the best choices. 

This living room has been painted in Ciao Sofia from COAT — a greyed pink in a flat matt finish that is ideal at hiding wall imperfections. 

15. Shrink a large expanse of bare wall

living room with navy wall

(Image credit: Paint & Paper Library)

Although high ceilings and huge rooms can seem very appealing, they can sometimes make a living room feel a little too open and sometimes vacuous and cold. 

If you are unsure how to fill a large expanse of wall, there are several ideas to consider. Of course there is the tried-and-tested picture gallery method, but if you like the idea of something a little different and want to save money on hunting down an eclectic collection of picture frames, then how about using paint instead?

Here, a combination of Plimsoll and Wattle V from Paint & Paper Library has been used, with the pale putty shade used to frame the bold inky blue centre colour. The effect is instantly striking, with the sofa seemingly cosseted by the deep blue backdrop. 

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.