Your Best Bet
Choosing the best color for your living room—the most public space in your home—can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. To offer you inspiration, we reached out to five experts who know a thing or two about paint colors to discover some of their favorite hues.
A perennial favorite for living rooms, blue is thought to evoke a sense of calm and order, but it’s also appreciated for its versatility. “Blue is a color that works well with many styles of furniture, from traditional to modern,” confirms Andrea Magno, color and design expert for Benjamin Moore.
Which variety of blue to choose is a highly personal consideration. “Some people want a deeper shade with warm undertones to create a cozy feeling in a room, something like Van Deusen Blue from our Historical Colors collection," says Magno, "while others might go for something light and airy like Breath of Fresh Air, which is our 2014 Color of the Year.”
Related: Last Year's Color of the Year
“Red is one of the most powerful colors,” says interior designer Kristine Robinson, principal of Robinson Interiors, in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and a teacher of color psychology and interior design at Temple University. “It adds energy and life to a living room.”
Related: 45 Ravishing Red Rooms
To avoid an overload of this vibrant hue, however, Robinson often focuses it on one wall. “Accent walls are terrific when you want to use a bold color like red but don’t want it to completely overpower a room,” she says. Pinpointing the best shade for your home may depend on the room's lighting and architectural elements.
Deep charcoal grays are gaining popularity in interior design these days. One fan is design blogger Holly Becker, founder of decor8blog.com and author of Decorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps. “I love Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe for living rooms,” Becker shares. “It’s a moody, soot-like gray that looks stunning on a focal wall behind a sofa or on all four walls to cozy up a room.”
If you find yourself choosing between a few shades of gray, Becker advises getting samples and painting poster boards that you can tape up and live with for a few days. “Watch how the colors look at different times of the day and move the boards around to see how light affects them.”
Related: Take our Color Quiz
Farrow & Ball / Pavilion Gray
A classically appointed living room in a cheerful yellow hue is a common sight in historic houses, perhaps because candlelight may have illuminated this color in an especially pleasing way. Today yellow continues to attract homeowners who appreciate its vibrancy.
“Yellow living rooms can be welcoming, embracing, and even sophisticated for both formal and family-style settings,” reports color consultant Barbara Jacobs, owner of Barbara Jacobs Color and Design, in Medfield, Massachusetts. “Warm golds tend to look better in more saturated variations, while the more lemony, cooler yellows look best when kept paler and less saturated," she adds.
“White is a perfect backdrop for any style of living room,” says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “And because it is highly light reflective, it will make a room that may not have a lot of natural light appear brighter.” Evidence of white’s enduring presence in American decorating can be seen in the growing number of paint colors that fall within the category of white—enchanting hues with touches of green, gray, pink, and other tints.
Sherwin-Williams counts more than 100 individual whites in its collections. Among their best-sellers are Dover White (shown here) and Snowbound. “Dover White has just a hint of yellow to make it very livable and warm,” Jordan points out, “while Snowbound is a cooler white that is perfect for more modern interiors.”
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