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Living Room Color Schemes: Find Your Color Palette

Your living room is the centerpiece of your home, the place where you and your family spend the bulk of your time. That means you want the interior design for that space to be perfect. It should be classy but comfortable, soothing yet serene for daily life while it is also a showcase of style for anyone who comes to your home. To strike this fine balance, the right living room colors are key.

With a rainbow’s worth of hues in various tints and shades to choose from, along with an array of neutrals, the choice can be dizzying. Do you go with whatever color is trendy this year, or do you stick to a timeless soft white? Do bright colors make you happy, or put you on edge? What colors complement each other, while also harmonizing with your furnishings and home decor accessories?

Choosing a living room color palette doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, using the tips below, you’ll enjoy getting creative and finding the colors that will make your living room truly liveable.

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Use a Color Wheel

If you haven’t looked at a color wheel since your elementary school art class, you may be surprised to know it’s an important tool professional designers use when developing living room color scheme ideas.

There are 12 wedges on this color wheel:

  • Three primary colors (red, yellow, blue)
  • Three secondary colors (green, orange, purple)
  • Six tertiary colors that are combinations of the primary and secondary colors (yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, red-purple, red-orange)

These colors are the starting point for your palette. It’s often easiest to begin with a hue that speaks to you. Perhaps you have a favorite color, or you want to create a combination based on the color in a piece of artwork or upholstered sofa you already own. Once you have that picked out, you can find the colors that are best suited for it. Of course, there are way more than 12 colors to choose from when designing a room. There are neutrals such as black, white, and gray, and those three can also be added to any color to create variations in shade, tint, and tone, respectively. But before you can get to navy or cerulean, however, start with blue on the color wheel.

The easiest living room color scheme uses complementary colors—your main color, and the one opposite from it on the color wheel. Meaning, if you started with blue, for instance, the complementary color would be orange. It’s a pretty bold statement, and you can throw in a neutral for balance. You can also soften it with a split-complementary palette. Instead of pairing orange with your blue, you’d use the colors on either side of orange on the color wheel (red-orange and yellow-orange).

Other common palettes include analogous color schemes (two primary colors plus their secondary color), triadic color schemes (three colors equally spaced apart on the color wheel), and tetradic color schemes (four hues made from two pairs of complementary colors).

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Think About How the Colors Speak to You

We’re often drawn to colors instinctively. A buttery yellow may make us feel cozy, while burgundy connotes formality and power. That’s because colors have their own language that triggers certain emotions in us. This is called color psychology, or color theory.

When you are selecting your living room colors, consider the effect these hues have on you. Color psychology states that every color evokes mood and tone. Green may make us feel safe or refreshed, while orange can be warm and cheery. Tint, tone, and shade also have an effect—purple and black create a dramatic deep violet, while purple and white blend into a relaxing lavender. The brightness, or warmth, of a color may also play a part, and these are all things to keep in mind as you are looking at paint chips and fabric samples.

Consider Your Design Style

The type of interior design style you favor is linked with the living room color scheme you choose. If you like the airy, peaceful feeling of minimalism, stay away from vibrant shades of red, yellow, or blue—or any color, really. This design style is all about the use of neutral colors (think cream, beige, and tan) in varying patterns and textures. They are soothing to the eye and create a feeling of expansiveness.

You can bring more color into a Mid-Century Modern design. Neutrals still play a major role in creating a clean, open space, but this is highlighted with strategic pops of color. Think tomato red, golden yellow, and tangerine orange (an analogous color scheme). If you embrace bold hues, you may have a Bohemian design streak in you. Rich colors such as turquoise, emerald, or fuschia can be artfully incorporated in this free-spirited interior design style, along with natural decor elements for a neutral touch (think macrame wall hangings and a wicker chair), as well as indoor plants.

It could be that your color choice informs your design style or vice versa. However it works for you, your comfort should always be a primary concern. Your living room color palette should draw people to the space, not make them stay away from it.

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Make Sure the Colors Work in Your Space

You’ve envisioned your ideal living room color scheme. Now it’s time to see how it works, practically speaking. Gather your sample cans of paint and fabric swatches and put them up in your living room. You always want to test the colors before committing to them, to see how they work in the room’s dimensions or the available natural light. There's nothing more disappointing than falling in love with a sky blue paint in the hardware store, only to see it turn out differently when it’s on all your walls.

This is also a good time to make sure your living room colors play well with others in your home. A deep red living room may look jarring if it’s next to a powder blue kitchen. You may need to rethink your living room colors—or now that you know the basics of color, maybe find a new palette for your kitchen, too!

Integrating Window Treatments in Your Living Room Color Palette

Custom window coverings are an excellent way to put your color palette to use in your living room. Roller shades, Roman shades, and drapery all come in hundreds of different colors, as well as patterns and textures. You can even combine custom drapery panels with your shades for a truly special window treatment. Cellular shades or solar shades give you great options for neutrals to help balance your palette, as do wood and faux wood blinds that can be customized with paint or stain colors.

Our design professionals can assist you in finding window treatments that mesh beautifully with your living room color scheme. Contact the Stoneside office near you to set up a free consultation to get started.

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