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

These smart living room paint ideas will help you discover how paint is the key to establishing the style and mood of your decorating scheme

These clever living room paint ideas will give you home a unique look to love. You can transform your space using nothing but a tin of paint – from bold brights to barely-there neutrals, accent walls to stripes, these painting tips show there's something for every style.

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 and these brilliant living room ideas will help inspire you to give your space a new lease of life.

Living room paint ideas to inspire

1. Use colour blocking to break up walls

living room with blue wall white sofa with designed cushions and white round table

(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 dividing 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

room with dark blue wall book shelves mirror on wall white window and sofa with cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

A savvy living room storage ideas and great way to save space 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, as shown in this grey living room. Including skirting boards and fireplace surrounds, paint the whole wall in the same shade to make the look feel seamless.

3. Transform an empty fireplace

yellow wall empty fireplace with candles

(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 injection 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 with cream and pink box wall and grey sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Dulux)

Add interest by using two different colours to create a divide without having to put up a picture rail. In this pink living room the already decorative living room wall panelling ideas 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 grey wall grey sofa with cushions fireplace and white shelve

(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 room.

As this stunning cosy 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

fireplace with white wall flower vase over it and wooden chair

(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, as shown in this bespoke living room fireplace ideas.

7. Add a dramatic painted stripe to a living room

living room with blue wall and white stripe brown sofa with white cushion and shelve

(Image credit: Little Greene)

A new twist on the living room feature wall ideas 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.

Little Greene's (opens in new tab) impressive example contrasts a striking blue with a bold white band.

8. Frame a knock-through with a painted stripe

living room with grey wall white sofa with cushions wall frame and lamp

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson Styling credit: Charlotte Boyd)

With open-plan living rooms growing in popularity there are often two spaces 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

blue wall wooden sideboard with plants and books on

(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 if 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

living room with grey wall white sofa with cushions wooden sideboard and chair with cushion

(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

living room with white wall white shelve white and designed sofa and lamp

(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. In this coastal living room, 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. Opt for the best white paint to choose the right shade for your walls.

12. Use white to brighten

living room with wooden beams on wall brick fireplace and designed sofa

(Image credit: FuturePLC/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

living room with blue wall fireplace book shelf and brown sofa with chair

(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

living room with cream designed wall cream colour sofa with designed cushion fireplace and book shelf

(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

living room with cream and pink colour wall grey and black sofa wooden shelve and fireplace

(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

white and black designed wall frames on wall white sideboard and white chair

(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 in this living room 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

dark blue wall window wooden cabinet and chair with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

be scary; it can bring a real sense of character and sophistication to your living area. In this blue living room, the heady mix of textures and tones makes for a luxuriously atmospheric space.

18. Unite shades from the same colour palette

white wall pink door blue wooden floor book shelve and sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ K atya 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

grey wall frame on wall white window white window wooden piano board and table

(Image credit: Future PLC /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 living rooms pop 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

white wall wooden armchair with cushions lamp on table and wooden shelve

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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 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.

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