What colour sofa makes a living room look bigger? Experts reveal the best shades to choose

Neutrals aren’t the only colours on the menu

small white living room with corner sofa and shelving unit plus rug
(Image credit: Future PLC / Veronica Rodriguez)

When decorating a small space we're all ears for any tip to increase that feeling of space, including finding out what colour sofa makes a living room look bigger. But while we’d love to give you a one-size-fits-all answer, it’s not as simple as that. 

When searching for the best sofas, there are so many things that you need to consider when planning your small living room ideas. You need to measure for a sofa and find the right size and shape that works for your small living room sofa ideas. You also need to think about your comfort requirements and choose your depth accordingly. Then, you need to think about your design ideas and knuckle down on a sofa style that ticks your boxes. 

Only when you’ve considered these factors can you really focus on what colour sofa you want to buy. But while personal choice obviously plays a part in choosing a colour for your sofa, it’s also important to think about colours and how they affect perspective. 

While some colours can make an expansive living room look small and cosy, there are others that can make a room look bigger. And if you have a small living room, you want to choose the latter.

What colour sofa makes a living room look bigger?

In a quest to find what colour sofa makes a living room look bigger, we decided to reach out to numerous experts in the interior design and sofa realm to give you a few options to choose from when trying to create the illusion of more space. 

1. Neutral tones

small white living room with corner sofa and shelving unit plus rug

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

Neutral tones have long been considered the masters of illusion. From whites to greys, there’s a reason why so many sofa brands offer so many options in these colours. Neutral sofas allow you to bring an effortlessly stylish neutral living room to life, and there are more colour options in this category than you’d think.

‘Shades like beige, cream, light grey or even a 'new neutral' like sage offer a sense of openness by reflecting light, making the space appear airier, brighter and less cramped,’ says Francesa Hadland, Interiors Expert for Bridgman.

Not quite white but not cream, off-white is a perfect solution for those wanting something in the middle. And off-white is a great colour option if you want to make your small living room look bigger

‘An off-white sofa maximises space due to its ability to reflect light around a room. The soft and light tones create the illusion of openness within a space, especially in a neutral living room where the colour easily blends into its surroundings,’ says Anna Elkington from Melody Maison.

Light grey, white, and beige are also common neutral sofa colours. But we can understand why so many people worry about choosing this colour scheme for such a high-traffic area of the house.

‘If you're nervous about having a light-coloured sofa due to the risk of potential stains, then I recommend investing in a sofa cover that stretches over your sofa,’ says Lee Trethewey, interiors expert from Sustainable Furniture. ‘It’s a great way of switching sofa colours quickly and preventing the actual sofa from becoming damaged or marked.’

You can even buy sofa covers that fit this neutral colour scheme, including this sell-out Dunelm sofa cover our readers absolutely love. 

2. Pastel tones

Pink sofa in white living room

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chloe Upton)

Paint trends often have a big impact on how you decorate your living room, and when Dulux announced their colour of the year for 2024, we knew that pastels were going to make a resurgence. And that’s great for those who want to make their living room look bigger, as muted pastel colours can bring that illusion to life while also offering a pop of colour. 

And while you could choose to paint your living room walls in these pastel colours, you could also incorporate them through your sofa choice. 

Eric Bramlett, founder of Bramlettresidential.com, explains, ‘Opt for sofas in pastel colours as they reflect light well and make the space feel more open. Light blue, for example, can give a room a coastal, breezy feel, while pale pink adds a touch of sophistication and warmth.’

These pastel colours also allow you to incorporate a new colour palette into your living room without it dominating the space. They’re subtle, soft and muted enough to make a statement without taking over. 

Eric does suggest using a pastel sofa as a base for the rest of your living room, though. ‘Pair your chosen sofa colour with complementary wall colours, furniture and decor to create a visually spacious living room.’

3. Jewel tones

living room colour schemes, yellow and blush living room, yellow sofa and carpet, blush pink walls, shutters, wall lights

(Image credit: Carpetright)

While it may seem counterintuitive to use dark jewel tones in a small living room, they can make a living room look bigger if used correctly. Of course, this all depends on how you work with the sofa - and what colour you paint your living room walls. 

By placing a dark jewel-tone sofa into a living room with dark-painted walls, you’re going to make it look small and cramped. But couple a jewel-tone sofa with neutral living room ideas, including light-coloured walls and furniture and you can create a real statement that opens up the room. 

There are so many jewel-tone colour options. And Tricia Guild OBE, Founder and Creative Director for Designers Guild says, ‘We love to use blue to make things look bigger and to further play with that sense of space, and this can be achieved through our sofa and furniture choices. Use tonal shades of a mid-tone blue and keep the lines of furniture clean and unbroken to maximise the feeling of space.’

You could always play with these colours before you fully commit and buy a new sofa, and Tricia suggests using blue cushions to do this. 

But if blue isn’t your colour of choice, what about a vibrant jewel-tone yellow or gold? ‘Yellow is very visible to the human eye, that’s why it’s used a lot in signage. It’s a colour that reflects light, which can help a small living room feel brighter and more spacious,’ explains Jemma Jaques, visual design lead at The Lounge Co.

Choosing the right shade of these jewel tones is key, though, as Jemma explains. ‘The lighter the shade of yellow, the more reflective it will be, so citrussy lemon tones will really zing, or opt for a golden shade of mustard for a sofa that is warm and inviting.’


What sofas make living room look bigger?

Neutral sofas are a surefire way to make your living room look bigger, as colours such as white and beige will help to reflect light and really open up the space. However, they’re not the only colours that will make a living room look bigger.

If you want to experiment with colour and make a statement in your lounge, you could opt for popular colours such as sage green or even yellow. However, it’s important that you understand these colours and how to use them before buying a sofa in this colour. If styled wrong, they could actually make a living room look smaller. 

In most cases, however, choosing a sofa with tall legs will always make a living room look bigger. Jemma Jaques says, ‘A top tip if you want to maximise the effect of your sofa – choose one with tall legs rather than one that sits directly on the floor, this will allow light to pass under the sofa and increase the brightness in your lounge.’ 

What colours make a living room look bigger and brighter?

Long gone are the days of having white walls matched with a beige sofa. Homeowners are now adding bright and bold touches to their living room colour schemes, all with different effects. Some are used to make a large room look cosy and inviting, while other colours are used to make a small room look bigger and brighter. 

Of course, if you want to make your living room look bigger and brighter, opting for light colours is the way to go. These don’t just have to be neutral colours, though. You could go for light tones of green, blue, yellow, or even orange and pink.

Which sofa colour is best for living room?

Ultimately, this is your personal choice. You can choose to buy a sofa in a particular colour because it’s your favourite colour, or you can choose to buy a sofa in a particular colour because you know it’s going to make your small living room look larger. 

The final decision is entirely your own and something you need to weigh up yourself. However, Dani Burroughs, Head of Product at Snug, would always suggest being bold and confident with your colour choice - and go wild elsewhere in the living room.

‘Create a real statement by playing up to the colour of the sofa,’ she says. ‘Saturating the walls in a complementary colour will crank up the cosy factor and make the room feel instantly warming and stylish. Balance the room with sumptuous upholstery offset against rustic textures of wood, jute and metallic finishes.’

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.