Chances are, your living room has more than one function. It might be your film and boxset space, where you hang out and play games; or maybe it's where you have friends over to socialise and entertain. But whatever you do there, the living room is all about relaxation – which is why considering calm colours for living rooms is key when deciding on living room colour schemes.
When you're choosing calm colours for a bedroom, the emphasis is on gentle tones that can help you sleep. It's similar in the living room, where you want to signal that it's time to kick back after a busy day. This palette will be personal, so take some time to think about what 'calm' looks like for you.
'A calming scheme doesn’t have to mean neutral. I love using strong colours to create cosy spaces,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of paint company Little Greene. 'Dark colours work really well to create warmth and intimacy within a living room. Intense but natural cocooning colours such as Chocolate Colour, Sage Green or Jewel Beetle are perfect for enveloping a space with a sense of relaxation and comfort.'
'Users of the space, their preferences, psychological and physiological situations, cultural backgrounds and colour meanings are important when deciding on colours and for setting the whole mood of the place,' say experts, Dr Vien Cheung and Dr Douha Youssef Attiah in their research, Colour in Spaces.
Calm colours for living rooms
We've asked the professionals for their go-to calm colours for living rooms. Which one will you choose to create your perfect chillout zone?
1. Gentle grey
Grey living room ideas are a can't-fail approach to creating calm and sophisticated spaces – and there's a shade of grey to suit everyone.
'Grey and slate shades hold a lot of personality and character, while also adding a simple, laid-back, and uncluttered feel to a room. It makes them a great choice for the living room – a space in the house for relaxing and unwinding,' suggests Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown Paints.
'Grey hues are also the perfect base colour for a living room feature wall,' continues Justina. 'You could pair with Crown Paints' Heartsoul, for example – a vibrant pink that’s ideal for experimenting with. This will give you a pop of colour, surrounded by the calm of the grey, which really completes a living room.'
2. Pleasing plum
'If you want an impactful colour while remaining intimate, consider warm, deep paint colours such as Little Greene's Adventurer, which is a rich and reassuring plum-aubergine,' suggests the brand's creative director, Ruth Mottershead. 'It looks wonderful combined with Sage Green on woodwork, as they give a comforting and homely feeling.'
Colour drenching with a single hue is another way to make a purple living room feel calm and relaxed.
'Using the same colour across the walls, woodwork and architectural features will bring a naturally inviting and welcoming feel to a living room, creating a wonderfully cosy feel,' explains Ruth.
3. Cocooning chocolate
Shades of chocolate, caramel and toffee are making a comeback, driven by our desire for restful and cocooning interiors that nod to the anxiety-reducing nostalgiacore trend.
'Considered a dark neutral, brown has a moody, sophisticated feel and adds great depth to interiors,' says Francesca Wezel, founder of Francesca’s Paints. 'It pairs wonderfully with light or bright pink, dark blue and off-white, as well as sandy tones and terracotta.
'it is perfect for living rooms and would work well as a background colour for artwork. In fact, I like brown so much that my living room is chocolate brown and I feel that I am enveloped and protected by it.'
4. Comforting blue
Blue living room ideas span the spectrum from clear sky blue and turquoise seascape shades, to inky blue depths – and all these tones are associated with a calming response. 'Blue is known to lower blood pressure, which slows the heart rate and causes the body to relax,' says Hailey van Braam, cognitive psychologist and editor-in-chief of Color Psychology. 'Blue has also been shown to cause the release of the feelgood hormone, serotonin, which helps to regulate mood, appetite and sleep.'
Of course, blue doesn't just help us feel good, it looks good in a living room, too.
'Blue works extremely well in the living room, as it has a calming, welcoming effect and reacts well to natural light,' says Francesca Wezel of Francesca’s Paints. 'It is extremely versatile in that it can be combined with a variety of other shades, from brown and cream, to gold, grey and pink. I always add burnt umber in my blues to ensure they are never too cold, tonally.'
5. Pretty pink
Blue-toned pinks can look strident (sorry, Barbie) but warmer shades have a softness that can help you feel settled and safe in a pink living room.
'Pink is a calming colour associated with love, kindness and femininity, and adding a splash of pink to your home will bring a peaceful and serene environment,' agrees Francesca Wezel of Francesca's Paints. 'Pink is said to represent the colour of hospitality – that's the reason Jaipur was painted pink, to welcome the Prince of Wales during his tour of India in 1876. '
The simplest pink is created by mixing white into red, which means it has some of red's primary energy without its volume-up-to-11 energy. That makes it a great choice for a sociable living room that you want to feel friendly and buzzy but still relaxed.
6. Warm neutrals
'We have seen a big shift from cooler tones towards softer shades, helping us to create cosy spaces within our homes. Neutrals, naturals and warm tones help us to create calming and restful schemes, working particularly well for living rooms where we seek peace and comfort,' suggests Ruth Mottershead from Little Greene
For a harmonious scheme that is calming, yet still looks fresh and uplifting, consider a gentle white living room.
'Our Silent White Colour Scales family is a neutral white, available in paler and darker variations of the same hue, which can be used in combination on walls, ceiling and panelling for a tonal scheme that simultaneously provides soft warmth,' says Ruth.
'Whichever colours you opt for on the walls, layering in a few textural elements will help to tie the scheme together and ensure it looks fresh. Wooden finishes, wool and linens will add interesting details, elevating the entire look and providing more of a contemporary finish.' Explore home decor discount codes for these extra details that will take your space to the next level for less.
7. Natural green
Style psychologist Dr Dion Terrelonge, who has been looking at colour in interiors and fashion for House of Fraser, says green spaces are associated with a sense of wellbeing. 'With green, in particular, being linked with freshness and recreation, which can have a positive impact on stress levels,' she says.
There's evidence that being outside in green spaces is linked to better mental health, but we can recreate that feeling inside by decorating our living room in green and filling it with healthy housplants.
'Due to its association with nature, green is a comfortable, nurturing, harmonious colour and any room can benefit from it, including green living rooms,' says Francesca Wezel.
Pure green not your thing? Then combine it with another colour for a calming combo.
'Colour-pairing is essential when creating a tranquil and serene environment. Green and lilac is a fantastic colour combination; often seen in nature, both are fresh and uplifting, bringing a sense of vibrancy and life to interiors,' Francesca says.
Sometimes all it takes is to change a colour to change your mood, so make sure you're living room is setting the right tone for you to be happy in your home.
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Andrea began her journalism career at Ideal Home and is currently Editor of our sister title, Country Homes & Interiors, which celebrates modern country style. Andrea is passionate about colour and how it can transform both our homes and our sense of wellbeing, and has completed The Power of Colour course with the prestigious KLC School of Design. Andrea's career spans interiors magazines, women's lifestyle titles and newspapers. After her first job at Ideal Home, she moved on to women's magazines, Options and Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor of Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for idealhome.co.uk.
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