How to choose the best colour curtain colours for a living room

Find the perfect curtain shade to suit your personality and style with our expert guide

Blue living room with patterned curtains
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Framing the windows and bringing layers of texture and interest in their wake, the influence of curtains on your living room décor shouldn’t be underestimated. Our guide to choosing curtain colours for a living room will help take your comfiest room from bland to beautiful with the perfect living room curtain ideas.

‘Curtains really do have the power to be an extension of your personality,’ says Avalana Simpson of Avalana Design. ‘For example, if you prefer a moody, darker room or you are a fan of lots of colour – opting for dramatic curtain colours paired with cushions in maximalist prints will really elevate the space.’ 

There is plenty to consider when exploring curtain ideas, such as the header style, lining options and fabric type, but deciding on the perfect colour is without doubt the best place to start. To help lock down your dream hue, we’ve asked experts and industry insiders to weigh in with their top colour-choosing tips and professional insight.

Curtain colours for a living room

Choosing curtain colours for a living room has the potential to seriously enliven your scheme. ‘Curtains are an opportunity to make a statement. Introducing a fun burst of colour or pattern through your curtains is a simple yet effective way to add some extra character to your space, so give it a go,’ enthuses Rebecca Drury, Co-Founder, MissPrint

1. Take inspiration from your walls

peach sofas in a pink living room, brass coffee table

(Image credit: Hillarys)

Look to the walls for colour direction, especially if you’re not planning a complete living room revamp. As one of the largest surface areas in the room, they’re a great starting point for coordinating palettes.

‘The new curtains should complement and harmonise with the existing palette in the room,’ agrees interior designer, Rudolph Diesel. ‘For example, if you’ve got a more monochromatic scheme in your living that follows one primary colour, consider using a shade of that colour for the curtains. A darker shade is preferable if the window is large and exposed to a lot of sunlight.’

2. Order swatches

living room with green walls and floral curtains

(Image credit: 247 Curtains)

Many curtain and fabric companies offer a swatch service, which can help you settle on a particular palette and boost confidence in your final colour choice. 

‘Ordering samples in the colours you gravitate towards will help you contrast and compare, as well as visualise how the different colours will look in the room,’ says Amy Wilson, interior designer at 247 Curtains. ‘It is the perfect opportunity to try out the colour in your living room before you buy, saving you the stress of investing your money in something that you don’t love.’

While swatches are usually free, it’s better for the environment not to be wasteful so try to narrow the options down first to prevent ordering a gazillion samples. ‘If you’ve decided on green curtains in the living room, for example, order samples in a variety of different shades and tones to get a better understanding of what will work best in your space to match your current interior. Putting the samples up against a main piece of furniture, such as a sofa, can help you to see whether they complement each other,’ adds Amy.

3. Make life easy with multicolours

Red living room with patterned curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Struck down by decision fatigue? Going for patterned curtains in multiple colours can open up the options for accessorising and means you don’t have to commit to just one shade. Multicolour curtains are especially popular when seeking out modern living room ideas

‘Choose a pattern with one or two colours that match other items in the living room to avoid overwhelming the space,’ advises Marie Goodwin, head designer at Prestigious Textiles. ‘Offset bolder pattern choices against more reserved colour palettes elsewhere, or vice versa, to avoid the two competing for attention. For instance, large scale tropical designs work well with walls and furnishing in softer pastels or darker jewel tones.’

4. Decide whether to go for show off, or subtle

Green living room with orange curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Committing to curtains that steal the show versus playing a supportive role is a pivotal decision that can help guide the colour selection process. Whether you’re a maximalist who loves print and colour, or a minimalist who prefers a more pared-back, subtle look, living room curtain colours present a brilliant opportunity to express your style, without a great deal of effort. 

‘If your love affair with rich, bright colours, pattern and texture has been lifelong - choose a bold pair of curtains without a second thought! Jewel tones like emerald and sapphire have been particularly popular over recent years and work well with dark sofas and armchairs too,’ recommends Gareth Coxall, creative director, Terrys.

‘For a subtler approach, go for earth-toned colours like sand, ochre, and amber that will always withstand changing design trends. Soft undertones typically work well with a whole spectrum of other colours - should you prefer a brighter shade for your furniture or cushions,’ he adds. 

5. Don’t overlook the impact of linings

Blue curtains in white living room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When selecting the colour of your living room curtains it is essential to factor in the impact of the lining material, especially if you’re leaning towards black out curtain ideas. ‘Blackout lining enhances the solidity of block colours, providing a rich and intense appearance by blocking out external light. This results in a visually striking and vibrant effect,’ explains Debbie Leigh, design manager, ILIV

‘Sheer linings create a softer and less pronounced look, allowing gentle light diffusion and a more delicate ambience. The choice between these linings influences the mood and aesthetics of the space, offering either a bold and dramatic statement or a subtle, airy feel.’ 

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6. Pick perennially popular hues

Grey living room with floor lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Curtains can require significant investment so it’s important to think about timelessness when deciding which colour to opt for – especially if you’re someone who likes to change up your décor regularly or prefers more neutral living room ideas 

‘We recommend investing curtains in a colour palette to ensure plenty of longevity, regardless of how your style evolves,’ says Sam Sutherland, interior stylist, Flitch. ‘Soft tones and neutrals are an obvious safe choice. They’re a great backdrop for most colours and work seamlessly with almost any scheme, however deep blues, greens or dusky pinks tend to work with a multitude of palettes and still give you flexibility over time as trends change. Add interest through texture or simple patterns, such as simple herringbone weaves or stripes to avoid it looking too plain.’

7. Be led by light levels

Navy living room with red curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

It’s well documented that lighting is one of the biggest determiners of how we perceive colour when deciding how to choose the perfect paint colour. This is also true when it comes to curtain colour. The exact same colour can look very different in a gloomy North-facing room, than it does in a sun filled south-facing living room. 

‘Most artificial light sources in living rooms emit a static colour whereas natural light can change throughout the day,’ adds Senior Product Manager at Hillarys, Yvonne Keal. When checking out sample fabric swatches for colour rendition, be sure to check them throughout the day and with the electric lights on after dark. 

‘For a cosy atmosphere, Yvonne recommends choosing darker coloured curtains like deep browns and navys which are more likely to absorb natural daylight. On the other hand, softer coloured curtains will reflect and bounce light around your space for that living room glow,’ adds Yvonne.

8. Make a mood board

Yellow living room with pink curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Mood boards are a favourite colour-choosing tool amongst interior designers, and they can prove really helpful when dithering over curtain colours for a living room. The process can be as simple as placing curtain fabric swatches on a tray or any flat surface, and then adding in samples of other colours/materials and surfaces already in the room or planned, such as carpet, sofa fabric, paint colours, cushions.

Avalana Simpson, owner of Avalana Design, is a big fan of mood boarding. ‘I am inspired by long haul travel and tropical themes, so I often lead with the jungle and botanical patterns I’m drawn to,’ she says. 

‘I select fabric and pattern and place it in the middle of a mood board, selecting more muted tones and hues from the fabric and choosing them to add to the rest of the room in the form of wall paint and decorative items. Brass, golds and bronze metal accents are a great partner for greens, blues and pinks so I’ll also consider bringing these into the scheme.’

9. Add colour with a blind

Yellow curtains and blinds with grey sofa and fireplace

(Image credit: Style Studio)

Fitting a roman or roller blind behind your curtains is a great way to experiment with colour and pattern for less. This approach provides a smart, layered look and can also help with insulation and light blackout in the living room, if required. Blinds require significantly less fabric than curtains to make, so are more affordable to switch up, should you fancy a fresh splash of colour.

‘Opting for a coloured roller blind or roman blind can be ideal for bringing more colour and/or pattern into your living room. Roller blinds are the most affordable option and can also flush colour into the room when the sun shines through them,’ advises Kate Duckworth, Trends & Interior Expert at Swift Direct Blinds

‘Pairing a coloured blind with neutral curtains can elevate a space, adding a sense of opulence. Floor-length curtains with tie-backs in the same colour as the coloured blind would be an ideal way of incorporating the colour further,’ she adds.

10. Carry curtain colour through your home

Pink living room with pink curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Selecting the same, or similar, colour tones for all your curtains has the power to pull a home together, creating smooth design cohesion from room-to-room. It can also take the pressure off the decision-making process – one colour fits all!  

‘Taking your colour lead from other rooms in the house means you won’t disrupt the aesthetic by choosing living room curtains that don’t fit in,’ says Rebecca Drury, Co-Founder, MissPrint. ‘They don’t have to be exactly the same curtains for a seamless flow, just ones that are of a similar pattern and colour. We particularly love the use of bright and bold curtain designs that will bring a playful pop of colour through your home all year round.’


What colour is best for living room curtains?

‘When I want to create a warm and inviting ambience in a living room for a client, earthy tones like warm greys are always a good choice. A timeless combination of lighter walls and darker curtains create the illusion of vertical height while placing lighter curtains on dark walls will help create a bright and airy interior,’ says interior designer Nicolene Mausenbaum, of Dezyna Interiors.

‘Pastel colours like Sage Green with a few accents in a complementary colour are great for evoking a calm and relaxing feeling. When I'm wanting to create a vibrant, energetic space with lots of personality, choosing bold, bright, and even patterned curtains to complement neutral-coloured walls is key,’ adds Nicolene.

Should curtains be darker or lighter than walls?

Matching the curtain colour with the couch and then going for a complementary colour on the walls is an effective way to pull living room décor together. However, there’s no need to be too matchy-matchy when picking curtain colours, a relaxed, layered approach will feel less contrived and more comfortable than meticulous coordination. 

‘We don’t believe in interior design “rules” – so whether or not your curtains are lighter or darker than your walls is entirely up to you!' says Gareth Coxall, creative director at Terrys.

'We do know that a new set of curtains will always lift your space - adding character and colour to a spot which can easily be overlooked.' 

Linda Clayton

 Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product design, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Ideal Home Magazine since 2008, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.