What colours make a bedroom look bigger? The best colours for a small room

From dark and dull to bright and airy – these colours will make your bedroom look bigger

Dark grey bedroom
(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

What colours make a bedroom look bigger? It's the age old question and with colour being such a transformative tool there are plenty of wonderful options to choose from especially for bedroom colour schemes

Whilst our natural inclination is to go lighter with small bedroom ideas – and that most definitely has benefits, there are other colours to choose from that will give the illusion of space in a bedroom. Colours that make a bedroom look bigger can include dark shades too. This may sound counterintuitive, but this is where paint can be used to trick the eye. 

'All small spaces benefit from colours that recede,' says Marianne Shillingford, creative director, Dulux. 'This means that the walls they are painted on look further away from us. It’s all to do with visual wavelengths and shorter the wavelength a colour has, the further away it looks. 

'Blue, green and violet are the shortest wavelength colours and pale versions of these colours; which coincidentally remind us of the biggest elements of the great outdoors like the sea, fields and sky are perfect for small bedrooms.'

Colours that make a bedroom look bigger 

Whether your preferred scheme is bold or subtle there are colours that can make a bedroom look bigger. 

'By opting for paler, muted shades, they almost act as neutrals and the softness can help to keep the bedroom feeling really light and airy whilst also helping to reflect more light around the space,' says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director, Kelling Home.

1. Team blush and green for a truly fresh feel

blush pink and green bedroom with fan on wall above bed, navy and brass desk lamp, folk textured cushion, green and blush bedding, turmeric coloured sheet, plant

(Image credit: Dulux)

Two colours that make a bedroom look bigger are blush pink and sage green bedroom ideas. They also add contrast to a scheme because a darker green will act as a grounding shade against the pink so use that for your accessories like bedlinen and a rug. Blush pink bedroom ideas will work well on the walls to lighten and brighten, it's a versatile shade that will elongate too if your ceiling is low. 

Break up the scheme with cream pops and consider accents of turmeric yellow and navy blue. 

2. Fresh whites will bounce the light

White bedroom with picture ledge and black bedside table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Always the go-to and rightly so – whichever spectrum of white you choose, white bedroom ideas will make a bedroom look bigger. 

Reflective and space-enhancing, the best white paint will instantly make a space feel open and airy even in the darkest bedroom with poor natural light. It's a great base for any style bedroom too, whether your preferred theme is contemporary, rustic or Scandi, white will work with any other colours you add to the space – even if you stick to a monochromatic palette. 

3. Bold yellow makes a statement

yellow bedroom with open shelving in alcove, white bedding with yellow blanket, coral stool, white desk lamp, wooden floor boards, white curtains, art work

(Image credit: Mylands)

One for the brave, a sunshine yellow will be a wonderful addition to a North-facing bedroom. Pick a shade that does have a hint of warmth though rather than a cooler base so it cocoons whilst brightening at the same time. 

'Bright yellow can be a divisive colour, but in almost every culture, yellow invokes feelings of warmth, happiness and comfort, which makes it a great choice for the bedroom. While its boldness can be off-putting for some, yellow is actually an incredibly versatile shade that can brighten up any space and we have seen lots of clients using it recently to great effect.

'For a space that feels cheerful and welcoming, try pairing sunny pigments with lighter blues and pastel greens for a refreshing colour palette. Nature is always a great source of inspiration – sky and aqua blue shades like Notting Hill™ No.213 perfectly complement golden yellows to achieve a light, enticing colour scheme,' says Dominic Myland, CEO, Mylands.

4. Lilac is contemporary and airy

Lilac bedroom with black metal bed

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

Lilac is a pretty shade to consider and looks fresh when teamed with white and pale grey. Ice cream shades with their charming appeal will lift a small bedroom as their tone is a gentle one.

'A carefully considered bedroom scheme can make the world of difference when it comes to maximising the feeling of space. Contrary to belief, steer away from stark white walls as although it might make the room feel bigger, it can also make it feel stark and cold. Instead, look to inject colour and personality with soft pastel tones for a scheme that feels uplifting,' says Natalie Mudd, creative director, The Wood Flooring Co.

'It’s not just the colour of the walls that makes a difference, the flooring choice is equally as important. Choosing a lighter-toned wooden floor gives the illusion of more footprint. The direction of the flooring makes an immense impact on the flow and spatial feel of a room. It’s recommended to place the planks parallel to the widest wall. This will create an elongated look by drawing attention to the longest portion of the space.'

5. All encompassing terracotta

Terracotta bedroom with white bed

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

Earthy shades that encompass do make a bedroom feel larger, they are calming and provide a distraction from the size of the space. They're inviting and harmonious which makes them a great choice.

'Warm, rich terracottas will add a luxurious feel to even the smallest bedroom, ensuring that the beautiful colour will be the most eye-catching element rather than any lack of space. Burnt-orange terracottas such as Fired Earth's new Taos House evoke a sense of mellow sunshine, creating an uplifting but restful mood that's perfect for compact bedrooms. 

Terracottas work brilliantly as a backdrop to a layered palette of creams, fresh whites, orange-yellows and natural tones, creating a subtly detailed and sophisticated scheme which will instantly make a small bedroom appear more spacious,' says Colin Robin-Welford, creative director, Fired Earth

6. A green grey is uplifting

green grey bedroom with painted cabinetry and skirtings in the same shade, vintage side table, red lamp, four poster bed, cream bedspread, white wall lights

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

Some paint colours reflect light so well that they change depending on the time of day, this means they brighten up those dark corners perfectly and always create an interesting effect.

'French Gray is inspired by French decoration and wallpapers of the 19th century,' says Patrick O'Donnell, brand ambassador, Farrow & Ball. 'It is a restful shade which shifts between green and grey as the light changes throughout the day.'

These colours are great for painting from floor to ceiling – so include all cabinets and woodwork, it's a thoroughly modern approach to interior design and why not be bold and paint the ceiling as well?

7. Pale blue and green add impact

blue and white bedroom with upholstered headboard, teal metal side table, vase of flowers, pink lamp with patterned shade, pale blue and white wallpaper, pale blue bedding, pink and teal cushions

(Image credit: Kelling Home)

Bright tones open up a space but you can mix two shades of the same colour in one scheme to achieve this. Shades of blue and green teamed with white are excellent for this and consider patterned fabrics and wallpaper in the bedroom as one of the colours. 

'Pale shades of blue and green help evoke a serene and calming atmosphere, especially when used in the bedroom. Bringing with them a sense of tranquillity and peace, they can really help make your bedroom feel more restful and rejuvenating, which is essential in a space that's dedicated to sleep and relaxation. 

'A great way to introduce these pale shades is to start with the walls. Whether you opt for a light blue or green for paint or wallpaper, you can really set the backdrop to your bedroom with ease. You can then stick to complementary shades of blues, greens, blacks and whites and introduce pops of brighter, bolder colours for eye-catching detail,' says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director, Kelling Home.

8. Grey offers a crisp and clean feel

grey bedroom with wood veneer bed and wooden furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Scott)

Elegant and sophisticated, a mid-toned grey is a versatile choice and due to being on the lighter end of the scale. Grey bedroom ideas will make a bedroom look bigger and of course, who doesn't love this classic Scandi colour way?

'Scandinavian is one of the most distinctive styles; it emphasises light and nature and is characterised by simplicity, reflecting the Scandinavian way of life. A great place to start is a neutral base; white and greys keep it simple and allow accents of colours or black to provide contrast. 

When working with textiles, again keep it simple; graphical patterns or patterns based in nature will provide the right look. Furniture and accessories that are unadorned and have delicate features are key. When it comes to material, light or blond woods and natural materials, such as rattan, are most common, although walnut or darker woods can be used for more of a mid-century look,' says Grant Robertson, interior design leader, IKEA UK

9. Taupe will warm up a north facing bedroom

Taupe bedroom with white bed and artwork

(Image credit: Future PLC / Douglas Gibb)

Sitting between off-white and ochre, taupe is a wonderful neutral that will make a small bedroom inviting. The very nature of the colour ensures it will open up a room whilst giving it a warming feel. 

Calming and versatile, it works well with accents too – you could go for full contrast with navy and red, or subtle with a pale pink or soft green. It's elegant to boot and looks great when used on architectural features as it highlights details well. 

10. Consider charcoal for a dramatic effect

Dark grey bedroom

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

This may feel like a major bedroom colour mistake to make if you want to make a bedroom feel bigger, however, dark colours add depth and this alone can make it feel more spacious. It's about the shade that you pick – a jet black will be too harsh, but a soft charcoal will do the trick perfectly, in fact, navy will have the same effect and worth considering too. 

The dramatic nature of charcoal will distract from the size of your bedroom too, it's a key interior design trick that works wonders! If it sounds daunting then team it with crisp white woodwork for extra balance. 

What colours make a bedroom look bigger and bright?

Where the light falls in your bedroom with dictate the colours that will work best and help you to choose the tone too.

'For a south or west-facing bedroom, choose a warm white or warm neutral,' says Patrick O'Donnell, brand ambassador, Farrow & Ball. ' White Tie or Setting Plaster will respond beautifully here. For an east-facing room, consider a gentle aqua such as Pale Powder which will play to the natural lighting conditions. For north-facing, err towards darker colours.

'By playing with the limitations here rather than fighting them the room will respond accordingly, even dare to go as dark as a deep blue or forest green such as Wine Dark or Beverly, both colours will create a space that is deeply cosy and cocooning in a smaller space.'

What colour is best for small bedrooms? 

This really is a personal choice, for example, if your favourite colour is navy you can mix that with white so it still lightens up your bedroom ideas. It's about creating a balanced feel.

'If you are blessed with large windows and flooded with natural light, then a softer, paler palette will be a natural ‘go to’. If you do choose a gentle colour scheme such as soft whites or gentle neutrals, why not paint everything in the one colour? This will help soften any details in your bedroom such as built-in wardrobes, and create greater continuity, even taking the colour over the ceiling!' says Patrick. 

'Small bedrooms benefit from lighter colours in any hue and because a bedroom is a sensory space, choose a paint that has a soft tactile element to it like Dulux Heritage Velvet matt which is smooth and warming under the fingertips but tough enough to wipe clean without damaging the surface,' adds Marianne.


What colour combination is best for bedrooms?

'Although pale colours will help to make small rooms look larger, it’s the mood you want to create in a room that is probably more important than the colour,' advises Marianne. 

You can use colours together successfully but it's good to choose shades that have the same tone – this means they have the same depth of colour. Blush and pale green and blue with green or yellow work well too. 

'Dark colours in small grown up bedrooms can look stunning and create an atmosphere that’s perfect for enhancing intimacy, feeling cosy and restful sleep. Decide how you want to feel in your bedroom and work from there,' says Marianne. 

Sophie Warren-Smith

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 22 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events.