Choosing colours for a living room can be a scary proposition for individuals who fear getting stuck for years with a colour scheme they no longer like or that has gone out of style. With so many colours and combinations of colours possible, you may wonder how to approach selecting a colour scheme that will not be viewed as a mistake by you, your friends or family in the near future. But some colour palettes have proved themselves sustainable for decades (even centuries) and are adaptable to a wide range of decorating styles. So take heart -- your ideal living room colour scheme is waiting for you to discover it.
The same colours used in classic business suits give a living room classic and timeless appeal. A leather or fabric sofa in black, brown, navy or charcoal grey can be the anchor for a room in any number of styles. And like a fine suit, it can be dressed up or down and accessorised in a variety of colours. Imagine a traditional sofa in a rich brown or navy grouped with striped chairs and an oriental rug that repeat that colour and also introduce other classic colours such as burgundy and gold. Walls can be kept neutral or can pick up one of the accent colours as can accessories, which can be extravagant or simple, formal or casual. If your taste leans toward a more modern look, a charcoal grey or black sofa or sectional with clean lines can be the starting point for mid-century-modern decor accented with red and turquoise or soft contemporary decor with accents in sage green or yellow. Classic neutrals allow you to change the colour palette in many directions if your taste changes.
Pale Naturals With Pops of Color
Colours of sand, stone, dried grass and sun-bleached wood form a soothing basic palette to which accents of blue, red, yellow, green or pale violet can be added. Picture a rustic Mediterranean style where the air and sea have weathered surfaces that have existed for centuries. There, ancient terracotta pots filled with red flowers flank doors or tables painted in the blues and greens of the ocean and set against stucco walls. Or perhaps the sofa and chairs can carry those watery colours while the tables exhibit a pale golden-beige finish. The natural background is ideal for a fresh American country or coastal cottage style, with reds, blues and greens in quilts, lamps or rugs. The same natural tones of off-whites and beige can also be the background for a contemporary living room where sofa and drapery fabrics may be neutral but with interesting textures reminiscent of nature. Chairs and throw pillows may provide all the colour you require.
Whites With Dark Neutrals
A favourite look in recent years has been a white slipcovered sofa and chairs combined with dark wood tables and neutral rugs and accents. Walls are white or beige, and art is encased in dark, simple frames. This palette may seem devoid of colour, but such high contrast between neutrals of white and brown or white and black is anything but boring. Browns that range from rich chestnut to deep chocolate add warmth and luxury. Textures in brown play with light and shadow and offer ambience. Fabrics in both traditional and contemporary patterns can now be found in brown and white or black and white. Accessories and lamps in black and white speak of sophistication. A variety of looks, from cottage style to Hollywood glamour, can be achieved using white with brown or black. While both of these colour schemes are attractive on their own, they also allow the easy introduction of other colour in the future. Choose red or yellow combined with black and white or pale blue or green combined with brown and white.
Brights and Trends
Red is a bright colour that never goes out of style, and true fans of red often treat it as a necessary part of any colour scheme. Both traditional and contemporary Asian decor employ red in large quantities, but red is as much at home in American or French Country and new modern decor. Bright blue and white, accented with yellow, create a fresh palette that is appropriate in coastal decor as well as cutting-edge living room design. Green and turquoise, colours from nature, look good with earthy colours. Citrus colours are a trend that returns every few years and can be applied to a variety of styles. Plums and purples have gained wide acceptance and are now available for the living room in accessories and seating, including leather. When choosing bright or trendy colours, use them selectively on one or two large pieces or within several accessories. Mix white, black or other neutrals in the colour palette to allow the eye to rest and to keep open the possibility of adjusting the colour palette in the future if your taste changes.
- "The Color Scheme Bible: Inspirational Palettes for Designing Home Interiors"; Anne Starmer; 2005
- "Country Living Country Color Combinations: Decorating Solutions for Every Room"; Kate Butcher; 2006
- "Mediterranean Style: Relaxed Living Inspired by Strong Colors and Natural Materials"; Catherine Haig; 1998
- "Pottery Barn Living Rooms" (Pottery Barn Design Library); Bonnie Schwartz, et al.; 2003
- "Contemporary Asian Living Rooms"; Chamsai Jotisalikorn, et al.; 2005