Clever living room paint ideas – ways to transform with accent walls and colour blocking

Discover how paint is the key to establishing the style and mood of your decorating scheme
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  • Transform a living room using nothing but a tin of paint. From bold brights to barely-there neutrals, accent walls to stripes, these living room paint ideas will give your home a unique look to love.

    Adding a splash of colour is the quickest and easiest 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 video tutorials and step-by-step DIY and decorating guides widely available, we’ve never been braver to try new 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. Take a look at these brilliant ways with paint to inspire your own living room.

    Living room paint ideas to inspire

    1. Use colour blocking to break up walls

    living room paint idea with block blue and purple panels on walls

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Create a colour-block wall of uplifting colour by using a tonal palette separated with a white border. Think vertically to add height to the room, using blocks of pastel blue and green and dividing  the area with an off-centre stipe of white. The use of the white for the diving line mirrors the skirting boards and ceilings to create a frame of colour to make the coloured blocks feel all the more impactful.

    Coordinate the look with matching soft furnishings and accessories. Choose a Living room colour scheme to suit your own personal tastes to make the look totally unique for your home.

    2. Paint bespoke storage to uniform a feature wall

    living room with navy feature wall with bookcases

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    A savvy way to save space in a living room is by having bespoke cabinetry built to fit, meaning you can use the whole wall for storage – from floor to ceiling. A creative way to make this a feature wall which, despite serving all your needs, look like one uniformed wall is painting it all one statement shade. Including skirting boards and fireplace place surrounds, paint the whole wall in the same shade to make the look feel seamless.

    3. Transform an empty fireplace

    living room with fireplace painted yellow inside

    Image credit: Future PLC

    If your living room features a fireplace that is purely ornamental, i.e it’s not a working fire, why not really show it off with a splash of vibrant colour. The inject of colour creates the ideal backdrop to display an array of home accessories, from candles to photo frames. In this smart living room the yellow accent colour is used on the walls either side of the chimney breast to coordinate with the painted fireplace.

    4. Stack tonal shades

    Living room Pink wall panelling

    Image credit: Dulux

    Add interest by using two different colours to create a divide without having to put up a picture rail. In this living room the already decorative wall panelling idea is giving a sense of division thanks to the banding colours painted one on top of the other. Use shades that work well together but allow enough of a difference to make a statement.

    5. Make it matching

    living room with fireplace and sofas

    Image credit: Future PLC

    There are no rules that say just because bold or bright colours are trending, that you have to use them to create a fashionable feel for your living rom. As this stunning living room demonstrates sometimes simple can be more powerful. A subtle mink shade of paint on the walls coordinates perfectly with the textiles and furniture pieces within this room to create a cohesive colour scheme that feels sophisticated and serene.

    6. Define the fire surround in an accent colour

    Yellow painted fire surround with painted logs in living room

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Paint your fire surround  in a bright, happy shade and top it with colourful accessories to make it the focal point of your living room. To take the colour inject up a level try painting logs in an assortment of complimentary shades to create a bespoke fireplace display.

    7. 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.

    8. Frame a knock-through with a painted stripe

    grey living room with yellow painted divide

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson

    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.

    9. Use accent colours to highlight features

    living room paint

    Image credit:Future PLC/ 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.

    10. Opt for a nature-inspired palette


    Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

    11. Work a whitewash


    Image credit: Future PLC/ 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. Read The best white paint to choose the right shade for your walls.

    12. Use white to brighten

    Living room with white painted between original wooden beams

    Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

    13. Anchor an alcove with grey


    Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

    14. Create a barely there backdrop

    neutral living room

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Consider transforming a section of a white living room with country cream. Floor-to-ceiling shelving and storage is the perfect vehicle for this classic shade – smart fitted bookshelves painted in the same shade occupy two walls. Paint the architrave and panelling too, as well as the back of shelves for a truly cohesive feel. Tones of teal and burnt orange are the perfect accompaniment to cream – so bring them in aplenty on cushions, lighting and upholstery.

    15. Paint a feature wall

    Pink living room ideas painted chimney breast

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Nick Keane

    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.

    16. Be bold with abstract black and white


    Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

    17. Balance dark colours

    Modern navy blue living room with armchair and sideboard

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Combine the richest, deepest of shades on walls and woodwork with lighter accents on furniture, upholstery and floors. 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 and tones used here makes for a luxuriously atmospheric space

    18. Unite shades from the same colour palette


    Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

    19. Paint the whole wall


    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.

    20. Create an artistic watercolour finish

    living room paint idea with ombre fading

    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.

    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 – giving homeowners a sense of braveness with bolder colour choices. As a result the most fashionably on-trend colour for 2021 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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