What colours make a small living room look bigger? Elevate your lounge with this simple colour trick

These clever colours will make a compact lounge feel bigger

Living room with black walls and ceiling and pink velvet sofa.
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Faced with a small living room? Join the club. Whether you live in a Victorian semi or a new-build, living rooms are often quite compact, so what colours make a small living room look bigger?

Everyone wants a spacious lounge, or at least the illusion of one, but choosing a living room colour scheme that adds to this can be tricky. You could keep it simple with neutral walls but what if you're a lover of colour? There are so many opportunities out there and while there is plenty of inspiration to be found, figuring out whether it will work in your small living room isn't simple. 

To decrease the amount of swatches and samples on your walls, we've enlisted the help of design professionals with a penchant for paint, and this is what they recommended... 

What colours make a small living room look bigger? 

A living room is so much more than just a spot to watch TV. It's somewhere to cosy up with a coffee on a Saturday morning, host games nights with friends and switch off from daily life. 

But if you're faced with a small living room then making sure it has a design that works for all of these occasions might be difficult. You want it to feel cosy in the evenings but bright and spacious during the day, so what colour will do both? These experts have recommended these stylish shades to make your lounge scheme shine, all while working to enhance the sense of space. 

1. Soft neutrals

Small living room with cream walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

White is the obvious choice when picking a colour to make a living room look larger but you don't want your lounge to feel like a stark space void of personality. So, the trick is to opt for off-white shades that still add depth to walls. 

White living room ideas don't have to be boring and can add so much space and air to a design. Shades of linen and cashmere are so quiet luxury and will allow you to make a statement with furniture and accessories without cluttering up the room. 

'The best colours to make a living room appear bigger are generally light shades of paint, such as soft warm whites, creams, taupe, or pale pastels,' advises Kelly Collins, interior designer at Swyft

'Light colours can reflect natural and artificial light, which helps to create an illusion of spaciousness and openness. Additionally, these colours tend to recede visually, making walls appear farther away and the room feel larger,' she adds. 

2. Pale pink

Pink living room with art on wall and green sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Pink is a fabulous alternative to typical off-white shades and when you go for a pale, blush shade it acts as a neutral itself.  

Pink living rooms have had a major resurgence in the past year (we've got Barbie to thank) and we love how the palette has become more commonplace in lounges rather than just in bedrooms. It's playful without being too statement and you can pick a tone that has the right undertones for the amount of natural light your living room gets, to make it look as bright and spacious as possible. 

'In addition to whites and creamy colours, soft pink is also a great paint shade for small spaces because it is fresh, light, and inviting,' recommends Sarah Lloyd, paint and interiors expert at Valspar Paint. 'Pink is a fun and feminine alternative to cream or beige, and is available in many different shades from even the softest of blushes.'

3. Shades of green

how to decorate a north-facing room, pale green living room with taupe matching sofas, dark stained wooden floorboards, jute rug, curved coffee table, retro chandelier pendant, rattan table lamp

(Image credit: Snug)

Symbolic of the outdoors, green is the ultimate shade for adding life to a living room. Not only is the shade relaxing and beneficial to our wellbeing, but it's also fun and vibrant too which is ideal if you often use your lounge for entertaining. 

'Green is a versatile colour that comes in a wide range of hues,' says Sarah. 'When you pick a feature paint that is soft and subdued, such as Stormy Day, you can combine it with either a neutral colour scheme or a monochrome one, to inject some soft tranquillity into your small space. Sage works well with natural light which helps to enhance a small space, making it appear larger than it is.'

If you're looking to experiment even more, Tash Bradley, colour psychologist and director of interior design at Lick, recommends focusing your attention on the ceiling. 'By painting your ceilings in a light blue or light green, such as Lick’s Green 13 and Blue 02 the room will appear taller,' she says. 

4. Swathes of a singular shade

Living room with black walls and ceiling and pink velvet sofa.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You might think that dark colours are off limits if you're aiming to make a small living room look bigger, but this isn't necessarily true. You can opt for darker hues, but you'll need to be specific about how you use them. 

'It’s not always about the colour, but it’s as much about how you use it,' explains Michael Rolland, managing director at The Paint Shed. 'Contrasting between wall and ceiling is a big no for me when it comes to small rooms.'

'Just think about white walls and a black ceiling – it has the effect of the room caving in.' Instead, turn to colour drenching and create a tonal look from the walls to the ceiling. 

'For a ceiling, consider opting for a colour that matches the walls but a few shades lighter,' continues interior designer Kelly. 'This subtle variation will still draw the eye upward, enhancing the sense of vertical space, while allowing light to bounce off the ceiling and brighten the room.'


How to decorate a small living room

Sofas, side tables, a media unit - there are a lot of things you need to include in a living room design and when the room is small it can be hard to squeeze it all in. Keeping the decor simple is the easiest way to make your small living room look chic instead of cluttered, but there are a few design tips that will enhance the scheme even further. 

'A small room doesn’t mean you need to fill it with small furniture,' says interior designer Tash Bradley. 

'When looking at a small space, once you’ve decided on the purpose of the room, I’d suggest looking at upscaling your furniture with, for example, the addition of a really large mirror which will help to reflect light and make the room appear bigger.'

Which shade takes your fancy? Whether you're a colour lover or prefer a more pared-back look, these options will enhance the sense of space in your living room and make it a joyful spot to relax in. 

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).