How To Choose a Living Room Paint Color

Need some advice on how to pick out colors for your home? Enjoy these helpful tips from the experts at!

Interior designer Lisa Frantz, whose work has been featured in the New York Times, Elle Decor and Architectural Digest, helps you choose living room paint colors. (Photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)
Interior designer Lisa Frantz, whose work has been featured in the New York Times, Elle Decor and Architectural Digest, helps you choose living room paint colors.(photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

For an uber chic interior, a la Carrie Bradshaw in the “Sex & the City” movie, don’t ignore the paint. Lisa Frantz, who partnered up with Lydia Marks to create the design firm Marks & Frantz, spoke to eHow to dish on the basics of how to choose the perfect living room paint color that will suit your lifestyle and your home. The interiors designed by Marks & Frantz have been featured in the New York Times, Traditional Home, Elle Décor and Architectural Digest.




eHow: Is it better to start by picking your living room paint color or furniture first?

Lisa Frantz: We always choose the furniture and rugs first. There are so many paint colors you can choose from, but furniture and fabrics are limited. You don’t have to go and have your house entirely furnished, but have your main pieces, your big-ticket items. If I’m going to buy a $5,000 rug, I would definitely buy the rug before I choose the paint color.

eHow: Assuming you will have your furniture as a jumping-off point, how do you begin to choose paint color?

LF: We tend to do larger spaces in neutral palettes. That doesn’t necessarily mean white; it means an off-shade or a tone. Start by looking at the undertones of your furniture. If you have a cool, blue palette, perhaps choose a neutral that has a blue tone. If you have a warm palette — lots of reds, oranges and yellows — choose something warmer that has more ivory, yellow or orange undertone. Your neutral is the most important. Even in a house full of color you have to have some neutral area.

eHow: When choosing a color to complement your furnishings, what are some tips to remember?

LF: You never want to match your wall colors to your furniture. I guess the rule is blend with your pieces but don’t match. A good way to do this is to pay attention to the nuances and undertones in the fabric.

eHow: Are there colors that work better in a living room to set a mood or feeling?

LF: Yes. It’s really important to think about how you want the room to make you feel. Lighter, paler colors usually make rooms look larger, more open and airy. If you have a larger room that you want to feel more cozy and warm, then you would go toward a darker, more intense color. Tan or a beautiful “greige,” the gray-beige colors, are really popular, and those can feel masculine or feminine depending on what elements they are paired with. Those are the colors I am drawn to, the beautiful green, “greigey,” beige neutral. I can do it in a little boy’s room, a little girl’s room or a living room. I like colors that are really versatile.

eHow: Could you elaborate on what constitutes a neutral palette?

LF: Neutral colors are colors that don’t have a heavy, intense pigment. They can range from white and go into ivory or even something like a pale tangerine. If you are doing a cool neutral it can have a blue undertone.

eHow: Why are neutrals a good choice for a living room?

LF: When we do color, we tend to use small areas off the living room to add that drama — for example, in the kitchen, because there isn’t that much wall space since it is taken up with cabinets, or a foyer or dining room. This is where you will get more bang for your buck in terms of color. Also, it is really important to have flow. Even if you don’t have an open-plan house, you still have doors that have access from one room to another or moldings that continue from one room to the next. It’s really good to look at the big picture and pick your colors as a package (that is) complementary throughout the home.

eHow: What is your take on white walls?

LF: I love white walls, but I don’t ever just do white walls. Even if I am doing a super modern, Soho loft, I would still pick a nuanced neutral that has a gray or blue undertone. The undertone is important. The only place I would use decorator white is on a ceiling. It’s important to have a little bit of pigment to pick up the colors of your furniture or the warmth of your wood floors or the undertone of the weave in your rug.

Sacksteder’s Interiors offers color selection services to help you take the guess work out of picking colors for your home! Contact one of our designers for information about how to pick the perfect color palette for your home or office.

New Trenton (812) 637-1422

Obryonville (513) 791-5022


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