I'm trying to pick a neutral paint color for our living room and I'm HORRIBLE at picking paint colors. It's one of the hardest jobs, when it comes to decorating, in my opinion. Paint always looks different than what you see on the little swatch. It looks different depending on where you are painting it. It looks different depending on how much light the room gets. It's super annoying, because if you pick the "right" paint color then it can totally make a room. The wrong paint color though... well, let's just say that you know that it's not going to give you the room that you had envisioned. Maybe that's why I've never liked our living room?! 😏
My go-to white is "Ultra White" by Valspar. It's the perfect bright white with slightly blue undertones. I have it in my kitchen, breakfast room, master bedroom, master bath, and LIVING ROOM. It's perfect, absolutely perfect, in all my rooms except my living room.
In my living room, the paint pulls a bit greenish and it's just not the pretty, bright white that it is everywhere else. I think part of that is because our living room is large and it only has one window. The window faces north and, although the window is large, we have a ton of tree coverage right outside the window.
I feel like I gave the white a really good go in our living room and now, it's time to ditch it and find the perfect neutral paint for the living room.
Neutral Paint for the Living Room
I looked up the definition of "neutral" because I was curious. What I define as neutral may not be the same as your definition of neutral.
Green Pillow | DIY Plant Bag | Snake Plant | Black Beads
You might not think of a darker paint color as a neutral, but I really feel like dark paint colors can be neutrals. I think that if you feel like you can pair any color with your paint then your paint is a neutral. Does that make sense?
Ok, so here's the neutral paint colors that I'm considering (in the picture above it's from left to right, top to bottom).
Neutral Paint Colors
- Cyberspace by Sherwin Williams
- Downpipe by Farrow and Ball
- Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore
- Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams
- Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams
- Asiago by Valspar
I had my heart set on dark paint for the living room and had actually been slowly talking Luke into it. BUT, I didn't consider the fact that our kitchen cabinets are dark and when you are in the kitchen looking into the living room, I might not like the dark cabinets up against dark walls. There’s only one spot in our house where you'd see both of the colors together but it's a spot that we are in all the time. All of that being said, if I could find a dark paint color that was completely different from our moody, gorgeous kitchen cabinets then I'd probably be all over it.
When I taped the darker paint samples up against the cabinets, it was weird because they all looked super close to our kitchen cabinet color (which is Cracked Pepper by Behr). Downpipe by Farrow and Ball and Cyberspace by Sherwin Williams were my favorite dark paint colors but the colors weren't that far off from the kitchen cabinet colors. I really wasn't expecting that! I know that painting four walls and having a whole room be a dark color is going to look way different than just having cabinets being a dark color but I'm concerned I'm not going to like the living room color because it's in a similar family as the kitchen color. Am I over-thinking this?
Let's say that I'm not over-thinking all of this and you all think that the dark colors will be too similar to the kitchen cabinets.
That leaves me with two colors that I like that are in the lighter, beige family. I think I'm leaning towards the top color which is Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore. But, then I wonder if it's too safe. Now, I KNOW that I'm over-thinking this but, to be honest, this is a HUGE room that I've painted three times since we've lived in the house. So, not only does it take a few days to get it completely painted but it takes a few gallons which can add up. So, I would just like to get the paint color right for once.😬
I'd love to hear your thoughts on which of the neutral paint colors you could see working in our house! And please chime in underneath in the comment section if you feel like picking paint colors is the worst! It's seriously going to drive me nuts!
There is so much pressure to pick the right color! It took me forever to decide on our living room paint color because I did not want to have to repaint it!! I wanted a mid-tone gray, not too dark, not too light; we ended up picking Granite Grey from Glidden, which has blue undertones that keep it from looking muddy, and it is perfect! I haven't regretted the color at all, and even ended up painting our kitchen/dining area the same color. And it's a great darker neutral!
That sounds like a glorious color. I'm off to stalk your blog to check it out.
I agree, it is super hard!! That white color does look so so different in your living room from the window light, crazy! The swatches also look different on both walls, looks like tricky task!
Yes! The tv wall pulls major green all the time and the other three walls look pretty similar to each other. Such a hard room and one that I'm not looking forward to getting wrong again.
Paint colors are SO hard! When I was doing our tiny bathroom I had Navy Blue in my head, so I got this rich DARK navy and it looked terrible! LOL Turns out a slightly more muted Navy was much better choice! I used those little sample pots for the bathroom, which helped, but it was also a lot smaller space.
So is it just the photo or do the paint samples look WAY more green on your tv wall? I like the green tones, but if it's going to look green next to your blue cabinets that might be strange...but I also REALLY like the dark possibility. Would it be an option to do all the walls but the one that you would see with the cabinets the dark color?
Oh my gosh, they are just the worst! It's not the photo! The TV wall pulls major green because of all the green outside. It's a crazy difference and that's a huge part of the issue with paint colors in the space in general.
I like accent walls but feel like our space doesn't really lend itself to an accent wall. Maybe that's my crazy thinking though.
Paint colors are hard! The dark options in a room without much natural light scare me because i think it may turn the room into a dark cave like space and i don’t think hat is the look you are going for! I have resorted to buying the $5 sample paint and painting on multiple walls and then living with it for weeks to help me choose in the past. Maybe you just need to keep the swatches up and slowly remove the ones you don’t like, or add more in over time! Lastly, pick the one you love! Who care what everyone else thinks!
I'm nervous about the cave-type feel too, especially since our ceilings aren't high. And yes, I have painted huge swatches all over the walls too... that totally helps! Thanks for weighing in!
Ok I’m going to sound nuts but I hope you really give it a thought. Both of my bathrooms and all my trim and doors are ultra white by valspar. It does pull a blue a bit and I have weathered grey laminate flooring and marble for flooring in the bathroom. My living room was the hardest room to paint! It pulled all kinds of weird colors. I have low ceilings, and hardly any windows. One thing we did was scrap our popcorn in there (before the 3rd color of paint in there)That changed it dramatically! (We still have all the popcorn in the bedrooms that we will tackle someday). So if you plan on doing that soonish maybe start there. You may end up liking your paint! Or instead of changing the paint to something else neutral have you tossed around the idea of a different white? Each white will pull different. Then if you decide to ditch your darker options and go with the ones you spoke of at the end before you commit get 3 samples of almost the same color...trust me they will pull different too. I ended up repainting my living room for the 4th time in 4 years in repose grey by SW. I never wanted a Greige color but in my living room it worked the best! I hope you take your time deciding so this paint job will be the winner for years to come! BTW: my popcorn came down crazy easy!!! Texturing it a bit was a pain in the butt though I should have just lived with a few imperfections/untextured ceiling for awhile.
Oh Rose, you are not nuts! I'd love to get rid of our popcorn but we have asbestos in it so it's a very expensive project to have it professionally abated. I do think the popcorn removal and a freshly painted ceiling would be amazing!
I agree with you about too much dark, along with your kitchen cabinets. Our living room also faces north so we have the same dilemma.
I think I would tone down the level of dark. Go mid tone in the livingroom with pops of the darker colour in your pillows, rug etc. I've seen in other posts, a dark green base cabinet in kitchen and grey owl in the dining room beside it. That was nice!
Or maybe paint a bookshelf dark and keep the walls light??
Interested in seeing what you come up with !!
Thanks Heather! It's taken me forever to come to the point where I know that I don't like what I have but I'm still undecided on what might make it better. I like your ideas though!
What about a dark dark green? It won’t clash with your cabinets and you have enough plants and greenery around to make it flow.
I looked at few dark green options and just couldn't settle on a truly dark one. Do you have a recommendation?
Have you considered an accent wall?
You could do Pale Oak on three walls and then Cyberspace on the fourth wall, probably one you can't see from the kitchen. Will make the dark color special without being overbearing.
I don't mind accent walls when they feel like they aren't just randomly painted. I feel like our space doesn't have a wall that just lends itself to an accent wall otherwise, I love the idea of one. Maybe I'm crazy in my thinking though. ha!
I agree with your thoughts regarding the selection of paint colors! Our living room doesn’t get much natural light and I wanted to keep the paint color on the lighter side, but not white as we have tons of white crown molding and framing around windows and doorways. At any rate, I went with Crushed Ice by BM, which is part of their white collection. Just a hint of color.
Sounds similar to our situation with the crown moulding and case openings! I think just a hint of color would be so much better than the white that we currently have. Thanks for weighing in!
I say a white!!! ...but I believe that it's all about the color wheel and math before you start pulling out paint boards.If your room has one window facing north that's blue.If you have reflecting greenery that green.(I have blue from the street because of a steep short front yard and a tall window) A white with any red listed on the top of the can of paint will turn a putrid purple...think Grimace from McD's.Yellows will turn more green.My suggestion would be to pick a white with a slight peach undertone that you don't like in the store but on the wall with all the factors will turn neutral.Another idea is to go with the color current and pick a white with a lavender undertone barely visible to your eyes.It will enrich your light factors and I think look very midcentury chic.
The color wheel is something that I just don't understand in regards to rooms! Your knowledge is awesome, thanks for the insight.
I bet you’ve got this somewhere else, but after a good 10 minutes I can’t find it. Rug source? I love it!
It's old (like over 6 years) and no longer available.
I’m not sure if you’ve chosen a paint color yet but there is a beautiful North-facing modern minimal retail space with some greenery outside by me called Tea Bar on Division Street in Portland. It is bright but also warm and beautiful. I contacted the owner about her paint color and she told me it is Farrow & Ball Wimborne. I’m definitely keeping this paint color in mind for any future North-facing rooms as the warmth of the white does a lot to balance out the cold blue/grey light from Northern windows. You might want to check it out and Tea Bar’s Instagram to see it in use although I know that seeing it online can be challenging.
That amazing, thanks so much! I definitely look them up on Instagram.