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Best Paint Colors for Small Living Rooms

From creams, to dark grays, to off-whites, there are a lot of options to play with.

Apartment Therapy

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A Harmonious. Photo by Julia Sperling.

For those who have small living rooms, picking out paint colors can be a little tricky. On the one hand, painting the whole room white can open up the walls and make the small room feel a little more airy. On the other hand, limiting yourself to just one stark color can put a cramp on some people’s creativity. In order to give you more color options to work with when it comes to your living quarters, we asked a series of designers what their favorite colors would be for more petite living rooms. From creams, to dark grays, to off-whites, there are a lot of options to play with!


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Olga Ratajski, Chicago Designer

Olga Ratajski, a Chicago designer, likes to keep small living room spaces nice and light. Her first recommendation is Slipper Satin by Farrow & Ball for just that reason. “It’s a perfect ‘cream’ neutral for walls without the yellow tones of a buttercream. This color is very light which will keep a small living room open and bright, and looks beautiful against warm wood tones and classic off-white trim,” she shares.

Another option would be Blackened, also by Farrow & Ball, which is a little bit cooler. It’s the brand’s coolest white with a hint of gray, and it looks great with minimalist or industrial designs. “Blackened is a fantastic ultra light gray with undertones of blue. By keeping the color light and cool, a small living room will appear more vast and open all while keeping a sophisticated and chic tone,” she explains.

Olga also loves Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, which is a classic and vibrant cream color with undertones of red for added depth. “It looks great against classic off-white cream and other warm classic tones,” she shares.

A Storied & Stylish California House Packed with History. Photo by Marisa Vitale.

Anne Viggiano, Seattle Designer

According to Anne Viggiano, one great way to open up a small space is to use warm whites, like Cloud White by Benjamin Moore or Coconut by C2 Paint. “The natural and neutral bases in these colors pair perfectly with hardwoods, and other natural materials so you cannot go wrong,” Anne shares.

She also recommends painting the walls and the trim the same exact color but in two different sheens. This adds dimension without grabbing any attention away from the furnishings.

For those that aren’t afraid of a little drama, she also suggest Smoke & Mirrors by Benjamin Moore. “This color is a green-based neutral, and it’s cozy without being too dark to ensure that you still get light reflectivity in a small space,” she shares. “If you can change the common perspective that small rooms shouldn’t be dark, and embrace the warmth of a darker tone, you will be surprised how at home it will feel and your attention will go to the lit areas and not the seemingly constricting boundaries of the smaller space.”

Michael Abrams, Chicago Designer

Michael Abrams, like the previous designers, likes using neutrals in small living rooms, especially grays. “In small living rooms I like using a quiet neutral, allowing artwork and furnishings to take the lead,” he shares. To give you ideas, he recommends Wish by Benjamin Moore, which is a sophisticated light gray; Revere Pewter, which is a light gray with warm undertones; and Collingwood, which is an off-white shade.

Marlen Komar is a writer first, vintage hoarder second, and donut fiend third. If you have a passion for finding the best taco joints in Chicago or want to talk about Doris Day movies, then she thinks an afternoon coffee date is in order.

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This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy and was published December 24, 2018. This article is republished here with permission.

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