When planning cozy colors for a living room, take your inspiration from all across the color wheel. From muted shades where saturation has been toned down to create a calming feel, to a monochromatic look where paint has been taken across the ceiling for a cocooning feel, to dark and moody hues that are going to feel like a big warm hug at the end of the day or cool colors inspired by nature, there are myriad possibilities when it comes to cozy colors.
Your living room is a great place to experiment with the cozy look. More and more we’re looking to these spaces to offer us comfort and a space for relaxing, and coupled with the right textures, the living room can be a real sanctuary for relaxation.
Cozy colors are typically dark shades and tones. But, contrary to popular belief, dark doesn’t necessarily mean your room shrinks in size. ‘Dark colors envelope a room and make it feel squishy and comforting, wrapping you up in the biggest blanket,’ says Abigail Ahern, a designer who loves to use dark colors in her work. ‘Saturated dark hues may force you out of your comfort zone but you become infatuated with their ever-changing tones and what they do to the pieces in your room. Moody hues make any room instantly cozy.’ Read on for our favorite living room ideas to create a sumptuous and cocooning space.
Oonagh is an interiors writer and editor. She spends her days interviewing leading interiors industry experts to bring the latest ideas to her readers. For this piece, she spoke to the designers who specialize in residential projects for their cozy color picks for a living room.
What are the best cozy colors for a living room?
1. Forest green
Dark, forest green is a color with strong ties to nature that can really help to create that cozy feel when used in the right way. It is quietly comforting and positive, with strong ties to nature. ‘It has a timeless, botanical quality too, and can be manipulated to create a comfortable ambiance,’ says Ruth Mottershead from 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 emphasize any architectural flourish or detail like the cornicing. In this example from Indie & Co (opens in new tab), a Notting Hill family townhouse living room has been transformed with this simple lick of paint. ‘Using strong color like 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, quiet and nature.
2. Light brown and beige
For a truly cozy living room scheme, a light brown can bring a real earthiness and turn your living room into a snug space where friends and family come together for some downtime and relaxation. Light brown is not featured on a traditional color wheel, but on a modern color wheel can be considered a warm hue and a deep and muted shade of orange. Its this orange-y warm undertones that makes it feel inviting, and its connection to nature and earthiness that gives it an enveloping and relaxing feel.
In this design from K Interiors (opens in new tab), a light brown on the walls brings a warm neutral color scheme to the living room. ‘I’m totally in love with this light beige shade at the moment,’ says Kristen Pena of K Interiors. ‘It’s a warm, slushy beige that feels moody and inviting all at once.’
While gray has been a popular color paint in the living room for decades, and might very well have its 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, moving away from that ubiquitous, light gray? Instead, a dark and sultry gray can have real impact on your walls.
Don’t be afraid to darken your gray all the way down to an almost-black charcoal, the result being a real feeling of snugness in a living room. Complete the cocooning coziness with a Togo sofa, as designer Stelly Selway (opens in new tab) has done in this charcoal gray living room – snug seating that perfectly pairs with the wall color.
4. Rusty terracotta
A dark, rusty orange or terracotta is another warming and cozy shade. Instead of going all out with a bold red or vivid orange, this rust color delivers a feeling 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 which evoke a sense of warmth include rich reds and oranges, golds, mustard and berry shades.’
In this cozy living room, various shades of this red, orange hue on the color wheel have been used together to create a layering and cohesive look, giving a beautiful feeling of warmth to the room that isn’t overpowering.
5. Dusky pink
If red in the living room might be a bold move, tone it down and think pink. Pink in all its shades creates a warm color scheme, with underlying hues of red bringing a subtle fiery quality to a room, helping to foster this cozy aesthetic. This example is of Farrow & Ball’s sulking room pink, a muted rose color with a soft feel.
‘Living surrounded by color is very important to me,’ says designer Natalia Miyar (opens in new tab). ‘it can make a strong statement in your home, and pink has always been one of my preferred colors to use. I use it instead of a neutral as it is more interesting than beige or taupe with its red undertones.’
6. Chocolate brown
As well as light brown, a dark chocolate brown living room can also give a calming and comfortable feel that encourages you to put your feet up and relax. Instead of painting brown all over your walls, take inspiration from A1000XBetter (opens in new tab), who designed this space, and introduce brown in a subtle way, in the form of key pieces of furniture, woodwork and soft furnishings. With a more stark or neutral backdrop, the brown really shines and brings that depth to the room.
7. Dark blue
Blue belongs to the cool side of the color wheel, so instead of its coziness emanating from warmth and depth, a blue living room can be cozy because of its strong ties to nature. Used in the right way, it can be calming, restorative and help bring that cozy feeling to a room.
‘It’s a calming, meditative color which 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).
Think of a grey, blue hybrid when trying to really bring a sense of coziness to the space, muting down the blue so that while it is a cool color, its darkness and gray tones brings a sultry feel to the space. This home 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 with the gray-blue sofas as the center of the room’s attention.
8. Deep purple
Go for a deep, plum-like purple living room for a real cozy feel, perfect in a snug room with a log fire. Farrow & Ball’s Paean Black is a color that changes throughout the day as the light hits the room differently, but with its red-base and black mix, the purple tone really shines through.
It’s sophisticated and warming, beckoning you to curl up on the sofa with a blanket and a good read. For a real cozy finish, contrast this shade of purple with beautiful hardwood flooring – like a dark mahogany, or go for a dark wood stain. This will offset the plum tone with golden hues and give a real warmth and depth to the scheme.
What else can make my living room feel more cozy?
Aside from the use of color, fabric and texture is another way to create a cozy and sumptuous space in your living room. Think layered rugs on the floor and plump cushions on the sofa. Drape throws across the sofa, and keep things contrasting – if your sofa is velvet, you might want to go overboard with the sumptuousness with Merino wool blankets. ‘Soft furnishings have a significant impact on the overall feel of a room,’ says Debbie of ILIV. It’s not just about throwing all sorts of fabric whatever the pattern though, and think carefully about how pattern contrasts against each other. ‘Layer plains and patterns carefully,’ advises Debbie. ‘When using bold patterns on upholstery it is best to keep the cushions plain or go for a plain fabric for the upholstery and experiment with a mixture of colors and patterns on scatter cushions.’
Another element that can really elevate the cozy feel of your living room is lighting. Think carefully about what your main light source is. Is it natural light shining through the window? Or is this a room that doesn’t get much natural light. You might want to invest in thick curtains that cascade down to the floor so you can control how much light you get. You also might want to layer lighting. Keep your main lights turned off and think floor lamps, sconces, or a beautiful statement lampshade that sits on a side table.