Chances are, your living room is the space that gets the most action in your home—whether you're prone to entertaining or just kicking back on the couch with the family on the weekend, it tends to be where people gather. And with the advent of open floor plans, it's also increasingly a space that connects others in the home—kitchen to dining room, hallway to entryway—which can present a unique challenge when choosing a color palette. Ideally, the living room should feel distinct, with its own design and aesthetic that define it from the rest of the home. But the colors, textures and patterns used in that space also must coexist peacefully with others, since it's likely you'll be able to see into one room from the other. What's an intrepid home decorator to do?
The short answer: lean into tried-and-true color palettes that designers love. Whether entirely neutral and restrained, or punched up with some bright and bold hues to better define the space, these key color palettes are beloved by the pros for a reason. They rely on some of our personal favorite shades (think: blues, grays, warm reddish-browns) to create a calm and cohesive space where everyone can chill. And—as you might expect from professional designers—they're easy to work with (and around) for the rest of the home. Pull some select shades into the kitchen to tie things together, or borrow a hue or two for the hall bath to echo your established aesthetic. However you use them, these color combos are all but guaranteed to make for a happy household.
Click through to see our favorite designer-approved living room color schemes.
Orange + White
Orange gets a reputation of being a tough color to work with, but we're firmly of the opinion that it's unwarranted. A few hints of burnt orange hues enliven this neutral living room space in the best way, lending personality and pop. "Lots of natural materials and tones make this living room feel airy and spacious," explains designer Claudia Afshar. "The black steel-framed windows and doors create a stark contrast to the bright interior, and frame the lush succulent garden outside like a piece of art. For a pop of color, we chose pillows and accessories in different shades of orange—a warm contrast to the neutral palette," she says.
Best of all, since much of the color in this space comes from accent pillows and throws, it's incredibly easy to switch out the vibe of the space as seasons turn—or as tastes and trends develop.
Tan + Beige + Cream
A neutral palette with plenty of personality, this living room by Design Works' Robin Strickler is modern and livable. "This is a fun take on a neutral color palette," she explains. "We used a blend of textures and colors to make it really pop and not seem one-dimensional. The terra cotta, natural leather, light woods, touch of brass—it's such a timeless look but still feels current and on-trend."
A few pops of animal print help finish the look with a playful touch—and tie into the natural leather and hair-on-hide details, too.
Robin's Egg + Peacock + White
A living room should feel relaxed—and relaxing. As such, versatile shades of blue are an obvious choice—but to make the scheme feel unique, Caitlin Whelan of Whelan Design House advises layering in different shades of the same color family.
“We keep coming back to this 'blue mélange' color scheme for interiors," she explains. "It works in every climate, and its uniquely calming effect is just one reason clients often want blue tones inside their home. We like to mix the lightness of a powder blue linen with a more grounding teal blue or dark turquoise, but in a denser fabric like mohair. Juxtaposing soft and intense values is how we activate the space and create complexity.” Peppering in a bit of plant life—both in the form of cactus-printed pillows and actual living greenery—helps achieve the zen vibe.
Ochre + White + Warm Woods
Some of our favorite spaces are designed around a standout statement piece—and that definitely seems to be the case with this breathtaking living room. The neutral upholstered pieces are bookended by an incredibly bold jewel-hued rug and soaring warm-wood ceilings that seem to reflect one another.
"Stained woods are making a big comeback in mainstream design," explains Cortney Bishop. "We have always been a fan and tend to mix all species together in one room—walnut with oak, maples and cherry." The different hues of wood (as can be seen in the furnishings here) coexist nicely and add an element of color to the space that's dimensional and layered. "These woods play beautifully with rich jewel-toned fabrics, creating chic, organic spaces,” Bishop says.
Denim + Terra Cotta + Taupe
"Terra cotta, taupe, and warm wood tones are on a lot of our concept boards for 2021," says Kate Lester. And it's easy to see why. When paired with denim-y blues and cozy light grays, these colors exude a sense of ease and comfort that's hard to argue with—and easy to sink into for an evening around the TV. The lively pops of terra cotta add an energizing note that feels fresh and modern, to boot.
"I never really shy away from color, but right now I'm especially loving all these warm neutrals as accents," Lester says.
Fuchsia + Navy + Gold
Sure, jewel tones are bold—but that's why we love them, and why designers keep coming back to them again and again, decade after decade. "Go bold or home!" says designer Maureen Stevens. "Fuchsia and navy is the perfect color combination for a living room that called for a glamorous and exciting feel."
The accents are no less statement-making, drawing on rose quartz wallpaper, amethyst upholstery and gleaming gold details to complete the "jewel box" effect of this one-of-a-kind living room.