Cozy colors for a living room – shades for a warm welcome

When planning cozy colors for a living room, take inspiration from the entire color wheel. From muted tones where the saturation has been toned down to create a calming feeling, to a monochromatic look where paint has been applied over the ceiling for a cocoon feel, to dark and moody tones that will feel like a big warm hug from the day or cool colors inspired by nature, there are countless options when it comes to cozy colors.

Your living room is a great place to experiment with the cozy look. More and more we look to these spaces for our comfort and a space to relax, and when combined with the right textures, the living room can be a real haven for relaxation.

Cozy colors are usually dark shades and shades. But, contrary to popular belief, dark doesn’t necessarily mean your room gets smaller. “Dark colors envelop a room and make it feel soft and comforting and wrap you in the biggest blanket,” says Abigail Ahern, a designer who likes to use dark colors in her work. ‘Saturated darks might force you out of your comfort zone, but you’ll fall in love with their ever-changing tones and what they do to the pieces in your room. Atmospheric shades immediately make every room cosy.’ Read on for our favorite living room ideas to create a lush and cozy space.

Oonagh Turner

Oonagh is an interior writer and editor. She spends her days interviewing leading experts in the interior design industry to bring the latest ideas to her readers. For this piece, she spoke to the designers who specialize in residential projects for their cozy living room color choices.

What are the best cozy colors for a living room?

1. Forest green

A living room with dark green ceiling

Credit: Anna Stathaki Design: Indie & Co

Dark, forest green is a color that is strongly linked to nature and, when used properly, can really help create that cozy feeling. It is quietly comforting and positive, with strong ties to nature. “It also has a timeless, botanical quality and can be manipulated to create a comfortable atmosphere,” says Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene (opens in new tab).

For a dramatic use of color, why not keep a neutral or white scheme and add interest with the ceiling color. This will highlight any architectural flourish or detail like the cornice. In this example of Indie & Co (opens in new tab), a living room in a Notting Hill townhouse has been transformed with this simple lick of paint. “Using strong colours, such as dark green on the ceilings, gave the room an expected yet welcoming feel,” says Celine Erlam of Indie & Co. With this dark green color on the ceiling, the effect is almost like a canopy of trees overhead, reinforcing these ideas of comfort, tranquility and nature.

2. Light brown and beige

A beige living room

Credit: John Merkl. Design: K Interiors

For a really cozy living room scheme, a tan can bring a real earthiness and turn your living room into a cozy space where friends and family gather for some downtime and relaxation. Light brown does not appear on a traditional color wheel, but on a modern color wheel it can be considered a warm shade and a deep and muted shade of orange. It’s these orangey warm undertones that make it feel inviting, and the connection to nature and earthiness that gives it an enveloping and relaxing feel.

In this design by K Interior (opens in new tab), a light brown on the walls brings a warm neutral color scheme into the living room. “I’m totally in love with this light beige shade right now,” says Kristen Pena of K Interiors. “It’s a warm, muddy beige that feels moody and inviting at the same time.”

3. Charcoal

An anthracite-colored living room with Togo sofa

Credit: Jessica Alexander. Design: Stelly Selway

While gray has been a popular living room color paint for decades and may have had a moment in the spotlight, it is still popular today and a gray living room can really go far to evoke those feelings of coziness. Why not try something new with this color away from that ubiquitous, light gray? Instead, a dark and sultry gray can make a real impact on your walls.

Don’t be afraid to darken your gray all the way to an almost black charcoal, the result is a real cozy feeling in a living room. Complete the cocooning fun with a Togo sofa, as a designer Stelly Selway (opens in new tab) has done in this charcoal gray living room – cozy chairs that go perfectly with the color of the wall.

4. Rusty Terracotta

A dark terracotta living room

Credit: Iliv Textile

A dark, rusty orange or terracotta is another warming and cozy shade. Rather than going all out with bold reds or vibrant oranges, this rust color conveys a sense of comfort and retreat with its earthy undertones of brown.

“We use our living rooms a lot during the winter months, so it makes sense to have them as cozy and inviting as possible,” says Debbie Leigh, design manager at ILIV (opens in new tab). “Colors that evoke a sense of warmth include rich reds and oranges, golds, mustard and berry tones.”

In this cozy living room, different shades of this red, orange hue on the color wheel have been used together to create a layered and cohesive look, giving the room a wonderful sense of warmth that isn’t overpowering.

5. Dark Pink

An old pink color in a living room

Credit: Farrow & Ball

If red in the living room might be a bold move, tone it down and think pink. Pink in all its hues creates a warm color scheme, with underlying reds bringing a subtle fiery quality to a room, furthering this cozy aesthetic. This example is from Farrow & Ball’s sultry room pink, a muted pink with a soft feel.

‘Living surrounded by color is very important to me’, says designer Natalia Miyaro (opens in new tab). ‘It can make a strong statement in your home, and pink has always been one of my favorite colors to use. I use it instead of neutral because it’s more interesting than beige or taupe with its red undertones.’

6. Chocolate brown

A living room with brown leather living room sofas

Credit: Design by A1000XBetter. Photo by Virtually Here Studios

In addition to light brown, a dark chocolate brown living room can also provide a calming and comfortable feeling that encourages you to get up and relax. Instead of painting your walls brown, get inspiration from A1000XBetter (opens in new tab), who designed this space and subtly introduced brown in the form of key furniture, woodwork and upholstery. With a more stark or neutral background, the brown really shines and brings that depth to the room.

7. Dark Blue

A monochrome blue living room

Credit: Romanek Design Studio, 1stDibs 50

Blue belongs to the cool side of the color wheel, so instead of the coziness that comes from warmth and depth, a blue living room can be cozy because of its strong connection to nature. When used properly, it can be calming, restorative and bring a cozy feeling to a room.

“It’s a calming, meditative color that encourages us to breathe in and out, creating a psychological and spiritual sense of space, as well as the physical illusion,” says paint expert Annie Sloan (opens in new tab).

If you’re really trying to bring a sense of coziness to the room, consider a grey, blue hybrid, by subduing the blue so it’s a cool color, but the dark and gray tones give the space a sultry vibe. This house was designed by Romanek Design Studio (opens in new tab)and shows off a stylish monochromatic color scheme that gives an inviting and enveloping feel, matching the gray-blue sofas as the center of attention of the room.

8. Deep purple

Paean Black, Farrow & Ball

Credit: Farrow & Ball

Go for a deep plum purple living room for a really cozy feeling, perfect in a cozy room with a fireplace. Farrow & Ball’s Paean Black is a color that changes throughout the day as the light hits the room differently, but with its red and black mix, the purple hue really shines through.

It is refined and warming and invites you to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book. For a really cozy finish, contrast this shade of purple with beautiful hardwood floors – like a dark mahogany, or go for a dark wood stain. This offsets the plum hue with golden hues and gives a real warmth and depth to the scheme.

What can make my living room even cozier?

In addition to using color, fabric and texture, there is another way to create a cozy and opulent space in your living room. Think of layered rugs on the floor and thick cushions on the sofa. Drape drapes over the sofa, providing contrast – if your sofa is velvet, you may want to exaggerate the opulence with merino wool blankets. ‘Upholstered furniture has a big influence on the overall feeling of a room,’ says Debbie of ILIV. It’s not just about throwing all kinds of fabric, regardless of the pattern, and thinking carefully about how patterns contrast with each other. “Apply plains and patterns carefully,” Debbie advises. “If you’re using bold patterns on upholstery, it’s best to keep the cushions plain or go for a solid fabric for the upholstery and experiment with a mix of colors and patterns on throw pillows.”

Another element that can really enhance the cozy feeling of your living room is lighting. Think carefully about what your main light source is. Does natural light shine through the window? Or is this a room that doesn’t get much natural light. You may want to invest in thick curtains that fall to the floor so you can control how much light you get. You can also layer lighting. Keep your headlamps turned off and think of floor lamps, sconces or a beautiful striking lampshade that stands on a side table.

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