The best colour combinations for a living room, according to interior designers

If you're currently debating a living room refresh, try one of these designer-approved colour combinations to suit your style and your space

three living room images with terracotta, blue and pink colour schemes to show the best colour combinations for a living room
(Image credit: Dulux / Farrow & Ball / Lick)

We spend a lot of quality time in our living rooms, so it pays to find a colour scheme that makes us feel cosy and comforted. Choosing between the best living room paint colours is no easy task, mainly because it's a multi-functional space, but also because not everyone in the household has quite the same vision.

Recent research by Dulux found that living room colours are the most argued about among those decorating homes together. 28% of all colour-fuelled spats centred around the living room. 

To put an end to heated discussions over paint charts, we have gathered the best colour combinations to help you create a living room you never want to leave.

A fresh lick of paint is the easiest way to transform your living room on a budget, and colour-drenching everything in the same tone can go a long way in making a small living room look bigger.

The best living room colour combinations

Before we dive in, it's worth saying that colour choice is hugely personal. Think about how you want it to feel and ask yourself questions like, "What is your favourite thing to do?" and "What's your favourite holiday destination?" Are there any colours that will help emulate that feeling? 

Here is what the colour experts suggest.

1. Beige, brown, and blue

blue and white living room

(Image credit: @yellowwrendesigns)

Simultaneously grounding and soothing, beige, brown, and blue is a great living room combination – no doubt why the popularity of decorating with brown is on the rise. 

"We use our living rooms as spaces to entertain guests, come together for family time, and also retreat to after a long day to get cosy and relax," begins Tash Bradley, director of interior design and colour psychology at Lick. "For this reason, I’d recommend bringing in colours that are welcoming, warm and comforting.

"Earthy neutrals with warm pink, red, or yellow undertones will feel physically soothing, deeper browns and reds will cocoon you, while refreshing blues will help you mentally unwind." Try using it in the 60:30:10 ratio, with beige as your primary colour, brown as your secondary colour, and blue as your accent. 

We think this subtle and sophisticated blend can make a small living room look expensive on a budget and works well with a coastal or boho style.

tash bradley from lick paints
Tash Bradley

Tash is trained in colour psychology and helps people around the world to bring their dream decorating projects to life. Tash leverages her expertise in colour psychology and theory, as well as interior design, to lead Lick’s design studio and curate the brand’s global paint and wallpaper offerings. To date, she has led 2,500+ color consultations for Lick clients, providing customers with the confidence they need to create a home they will love.

2. Neutrals, terracotta, and green

two living rooms with beige, terracotta and green

(Image credit: Dulux / Loaf)

Green has been one of the biggest interior paint colour trends over the last year, and we don't see it going anywhere. Blend it with neutral tones and warm terracotta, and you get a dreamy combination that transports us to carefree holidays in Italy. You could combine these colours with a touch of terrazzo, either with a side table or a cute little like this John Lewis ANYDAY Terrazzo Bulbholder Table Lamp, or embrace a traditional Italian aesthetic with a couple of Sicilian ceramic plates on the wall.

Sophie Clemson from online interior design company The Living House says that an earthy colour palette is becoming increasingly popular among her clients because it creates such a warm and cosy feel. "It could be that you go for a neutral base with your sofa and add earthy accents of greens and terracottas."

Sophie Clemson
Sophie Clemson

Sophie Clemson is the co-founder of The Living House, an affordable online interior design company that helps busy families transform their homes easily, online and within their budget.

3. Blue and coral

two living room images in blue and coral

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

"One of my favourite contrasting colour combinations at the moment is blue and coral," says Sophie Clemson. "The coral has a punchy feel against the blue, which I love. I'm using this colour palette for my downstairs toilet project currently."

"Using contrasting colours can look amazing and, when done correctly, can create a beautiful, well-designed look," Sophie adds. Follow Sophie's lead and choose a patterned, blue wallpaper with some coral tones in it as your starting point for your scheme. You can look at blue and coral swatches on The Living House's Instagram.

Alternatively, you could go for something more pared back – Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball suggests keeping your scheme controlled by blending a bright blue with natural tones of biscuit and earthy whites. 

"Something like Kittiwake or the bolder archive shade of Chinese Blue would create an uplifting, positive atmosphere for a living room," he shares. It depends on how you want your space to feel, as bolder combinations are more high-energy, and less saturated tones will be more chic and subdued.

Patrick O'Donnell
Patrick O’Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell knows just how to bring a room to life, be it a perfectly placed pop of colour, a particular finish, or a full, floor-to-ceiling transformation. Patrick has been bringing his impeccable eye to Farrow & Ball since 2012. Over that time, he’s worked in showrooms and people’s homes to transform countless spaces. He’s always had a flair for interiors, with an ISVA Fine Art & Chattels qualification and having studied specialist paint decoration at the Leonard Pardon School.

4. Purple, white, and green

Sara Cox's book nook with Dulux purple and green

(Image credit: Dulux)

Dulux's creative director Marianne Shillingford recommends combining tenniscore-inspired tones of purple, white and green in your living room. This palette of sumptuous colours will wrap you up in their warmth, promoting a cosy atmosphere, she says.

Dulux Heritage recently collaborated with Sara Cox to transform her living space into a comforting book nook, pictured above, and they used Wild BlackberryLinnet White and Sage Green

Wild Blackberry is a rich purple that blankets a room in calm, while Linnet White provides a contrast and helps balance and brighten a space, while Sage Green, used on the bookshelf above, is a shade rooted in nature, bringing earthly delights to the room. 

"The mixture of these soft, supple tones together with the more daring Wild Blackberry combines elegance and regalness to create a tranquil space at the height of luxury," says Marianne.

Marianne Shillingford
Marianne Shillingford

Marianne Shillingford is the creative director at Dulux and founder of The Colour in Design Awards. With a career spanning 30 years, Marianne knows how to create magic with colour and shares her passion for colour and decoration on her website.

5. Pink, red, and pinky white

living room with pink walls and sofa

(Image credit: Lick)

We love pink and red together, in our wardrobes and our home decor. A tonal scheme of pink, red, and pinky-white, as pictured above, will feel cosy, nurturing and calming. 

So if your ideal living room feels enveloping and ultra-comfortable, you might like to consider a soft, plaster pink for your walls, with some warm whites, and a red accent or two. 

Create a clear focal point (and essential in small living room layouts) by matching your paint colour to your sofa. By painting the wall behind your sofa the same shade, you can create a striking, colour-drenched look. 

Hang a gallery wall of meaningful artwork and photographs above to create an inviting, sumptuous spot to kick off your shoes and relax in. For expert tips on where to hang artwork, you can read our guide.


Are there any colour combinations to avoid?

There are various living room design mistakes to avoid, such as making an error when choosing a rug, but the colour is much more personal. It's your living room, your rules. The only advice we would give is to avoid combining too many bright colours in one space, as this can feel too busy.

"Try to avoid using too many saturated colours together," colour specialist Tash Bradley says, no matter how much you adore the dopamine decor trend. "Saturated orange and saturated yellow, for example, can feel over stimulating when used together in large proportions."

Millie Hurst
Contributing Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance writer and interior designer based in Sheffield, helping clients create homes that are characterful, curated, and highly functional. Interior design inspirations include Jake Arnold, Beata Heuman and Abigail Ahern. Her personal style is a 'liveable maximalism' with boho, nature-inspired designs. 

She has seven years of experience in the world of digital journalism, most recently working as Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens, where she wrote and edited countless features on home organisation, decluttering and interior design. Before that, she was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home.