Clever living room paint ideas to transform any space

Discover how paint is the key to establishing the style and mood of your decorating scheme
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  • Adding a splash of colour is a quick and easy way to add style and personality to any room. Whether on all four walls or with clever paint touches, a lick of paint can instantly give your living room space a fresh-faced new look. With YouTube tutorials and step-by-step guides widely available, we’ve never been braver to try new living room paint ideas – to create bespoke spaces we adore.

    Painting is one of the least expensive ways to update a room, compared with hanging wallpaper or  taking on total refurbishments.

    What colours make a room look bigger?

    When it comes to decorating, colour choice is always a matter of personal taste. However there are certain colours that hold hidden tricks. It’s no secret that decorating with white paint can helps to create an airy, open feel – therefore an ideal choice for small living rooms. Shades of green are easily identified with the outdoors and nature, aiding to create a sense of serenity. Soothing shades of green are scientifically proven to help us feel calm, and therefore are ideal for a living space where you want to feel completely relaxed and at peace.

    Read more about colour here: Living room colour schemes brimming with character and style

    Take a look at these brilliant ways with paint to inspire your own living room.

    Living room paint ideas to inspire your home

    1. Add a dramatic painted stripe to a living room

    WAYS WITH PAINT - living room shelf stripe

    Image credit: Little Greene

    A new twist on the feature wall idea right here: a band of colour running around the centre of the room like a belt between jeans and a tee! Take the stripe through anything that it touches too, as interrupting the bold strip of contrasting colour would lessen its impact.

    2. Frame a knock-through with a painted stripe

    grey living room with yellow painted divide

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson
    Styling credit: Charlotte Boyd

    With open-plan living growing in popularity there are often two rooms merged into one that you might like to give a slightly different purpose to. While it makes sense to paint the two spaces in the same colour, to provide a sense of continuity you could clearly define the two rooms by adding accents on architectural points of interest such as archways. This simple act subtly zones distinct living ares within the same open-plan space

    Given it’s not a huge area of paint coverage you can change the colour seasonally, or when you switch up accent accessories within the room without huge expense.

    Using a spot colour to define two connected-but-separate spaces is a fun way to inject some colour too. Signal the divide with an accent colour and tie the colour in through accessories like cushions and ceramics. A graphic piece of art is often a great place to look for a fail-safe palette, picking out shades that will add an extra dimension to your room.

    2. Use accent colours to highlight features

    living room paint

    Image credit: Jo Henderson

    Celebrate features rather than try to hide them under a uniformed wall colour. An accent colour border will draw attention to lovely period door frames, skirting boards and picture rails. Picking out key architectural details can help to add depth to your living room and create interest, even the space is devoid of features – you could fake a feature with clever paint ideas. No skirting board? Simply paint a two-tone feature on the wall to create the illusion of its presence.

    3. Create an artistic watercolour finish


    Image credit: David Brittain

    Embrace your inner artist, or better still pay a skilled decorator to take the pressure off. Use brushstroke patterns to add an artistic flourish to any scheme.

    Don’t be afraid to experiment with innovative paint techniques. Choose your favourite colour and work with shades from the same palette to create a graduated effect along one feature wall. Think about including inky dyed textiles with soft blurry edges and ombre, watercolour washes for a painterly effect.

    4. Opt for a nature-inspired palette


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Not all hero colours are bold attention-seekers. This soft tone that hovers between brown and grey is a quiet game-changer that’ll make a room look warmer and more sophisticated at a brushstroke. Plus, it plays well with other colours, so you can indulge pretty much any whim when it comes to accents.

    Sandstone blends with other browns, as well as greys for a smooth mix. Brown neutrals can be sludgy and dull unless you cut through them with the right accents. We recommend blue and mimosa yellow.

    5. Work a whitewash


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Brilliant White paint has a transformative effect on interiors – use it on walls and ceilings and it will make a star of every non-white piece of furniture and accessory in your living room. White is a wholly selfless paint shade, providing all the light and energy while reflecting the attention elsewhere. Here, as the white sofa recedes, pictorial and striped upholstery and fabrics are brought into sharp relief along with myriad accessories on shelving and walls. Painted tongue-and-groove walls and cupboards give this scheme additional coastal kudos.

    Related: The best white paint – how to choose the right shade for your walls

    6. Use white to brighten

    Living room with white painted between original wooden beams

    Image credit: Robert Sanderson

    Period properties are favoured for their characterful details, such as original wooden beams and low ceilings. While these elements can ooze charm they can sometimes make the room feel quite dark, and therefore feel smaller. A great way to combat traditional design features from encroaching on the space is to brighten with a splash of white paint. Painting with precision allows the beams to remain untouched, retaining their original aesthetic. A bright white paint on the ceiling helps to keep the space feeling as airy as possible.

    7. Anchor an alcove with grey


    Image credit: Rachael Smith

    Grey is the new neutral – use it in a living room where its rather understated nature allows it to introduce warmth without shouting at your visitors. Start with your chimney breast and take the paint into alcoves too where it will make a feature of stripped wood shelves and your book collection. This scheme has bravely taken grey down to the skirting and up to the ceiling too, leaving just the floor – in stripped pine – to provide a contrast. Bring in wood furniture and leather and cow-hide style upholstery to complement the shelving.

    8. Create a barely there backdrop


    Image credit: Mark Bolton

    Consider transforming a section of a white living room with country cream. Floor-to-ceiling shelving is the perfect vehicle for this classic shade – smart fitted bookshelves occupy two walls and a corner of this magnificent room and frame a panelled window along the way. Paint the architrave and panelling too, as well as the back of shelves for a truly cohesive feel. Raspberry reds are the perfect accompaniment to cream – so bring them in aplenty on cushions, lighting and upholstery.

    9. Paint a feature wall


    Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies

    If you’re not too keen on the bold-is-beautiful school of decorating, pick out a single feature in your living room and treat it to your favourite shade. This warm pink doesn’t overwhelm because it’s restricted to one area only – the chimney breast. Pick a shade that will work with your fireplace and integrate it into your room by using the same shade on a single piece of furniture and for a small selection of accessories.

    Think pink is just for little girls? Think again! READ: Decorating with pink: new ways to work it

    10. Be bold with abstract black and white


    Image credit: Simon Bevan

    Plan carefully and an all-over white decorating scheme doesn’t have to be plain. A white backdrop provides the opportunity to be more adventurous with bold patterns and signature furniture, allowing you to create a living room that is chic, modern and adventurous. The whitewashed walls and white furniture featured here work together because of the touches of black. Look for fabrics with a subtle modern black-and-white design that will break up a run of pure white.

    11. Balance dark colours with bold prints


    Image credit: James Merrell

    Combine the richest, deepest of shades on walls and woodwork with swirling freeform designs and animal-inspired prints on upholstery and floors. Reflect these designs in your choice of accessories. Going dark need not be scary; it can bring a real sense of character and sophistication to your living area. The heady mix of textures, tones and patterning used here makes for a luxuriously atmospheric space.

    12. Unite shades from the same colour palette


    Image credit: Katya de Grunwald

    Give your space a thoroughly modern update using a palette of gentle pastels in unexpected places. Paint a door frame and door in a sundae shade and keep the rest of the wall space white to stop the scheme from looking too sickly sweet. If you have two interlinking rooms, create harmony by repeating key colours across both, but on different surfaces.

    13. Play it safe


    Image credit: Lisa Cohen

    Choose versatile teal for a living space that’s both sophisticated and on-trend. Paint the walls, skirting boards and fireplace in one shade to give your space a truly cohesive feel. Team this classic shade with mid-century modern pieces and interesting artwork to offset the green-blue colour. Teal pops with bright white and its colour wheel match is coral. It’s a classic that works with nearly any style, from contemporary to traditional.

    What colours are on trend for living rooms?

    There’s no denying that grey living rooms are still the most popular mainstream colour choice. It has become the neutral of choice, replacing cream and beige for the modern home. However the most popular trend colours are darker, brooding hues of blue. Thanks to the presence of Instagram we can see inside others homes, to gain a better feel for what is trending and give homeowners to feel braver with bolder colour choices. As a result the most fashionably on-trend colour for 202o decorating living rooms is most visibly a rich navy blue.

    Read more: Blue living room ideas – from midnight to duck egg, see how sophisticated blue can be

    Which colour will you be using in your next decorating scheme?

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