The Paint Colors That Will Make Your Room Look Bigger (and Not Just White)

Photo: Stocksy/Aleksander Novoselski

Even though it may be hibernation season, the last thing anyone wants is to be stuck in a space that feels like a literal cave. Short of taking a sledgehammer to your windows and walls to open the place up, there's a super simple way trick to deal with even the smallest, most cramped spaces: Just give your walls a quick coat of paint.

“Light and bright colors make a space more reflective, maximizing any natural light in the room, while bright colors also have the ability to create the illusion of a larger space,” says interior designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25. “When using light and bright hues, paint trim and doors a fresh bright white to keep the walls from closing in visually, which keeps the room feeling larger.”

Some other space-maximizing hacks that don't involve spending an entire Sunday in your least-favorite outfit with a paint roller? Hang drapery rods as high as you can on the wall and invest in panels that skim the floor to create the illusion of wider windows. As for furniture, stick with standard size items (though it may be tempting to invest in itty-bitty ones to save on floor space) and arrange them off of the wall and on top of a rug.

Here, Fenimore breaks down the five best colors to make even the itty-bittiest spaces look bigger, which will also make this season's #netflixandchill sessions a whole lot more Instagrammable.

Keep scrolling to find out how to make your rooms feel palatial.

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Grey is essentially the goldilocks of paint shades. If white is too stark and colors are too bright, an easy dove will be just right. “Softer shades of grey can create an open and calming space, and the color works well with any color palette,” says Fenimore. Plus, it will match perfectly with the cashmere #groutfit you’ll be lounging around in all winter.

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There’s a reason why so many spas are decorated with light greens and blues. “The soft color will make any small space feel open and airy, and it is versatile enough to work with other soft colors as well as bold jewel tones,” says Fenimore. Aqua works best in rooms that get lots of natural light, and can also be a fit if you want something different from your usual grey or white.

Soft pink

Turns out, millennial pink may serve an actual purpose, aside from just prettifying your Insta-feed. “Feminine and fabulous, soft pink is versatile enough for a nursery and sophisticated enough for a living space,” says Fenimore. If the thought of an entirely baby pink room terrifies you a little bit (despite the fact that it would probably earn you a lot of social media likes), the designer suggests using the color as an accent with pillows, accessories or wallpaper, or painting your furniture light pink with a high-gloss finish.


Rosé isn’t the only floral-inspired shade worth adding to your living room's #look. “I love the look of lavender walls with fresh white trim and doors, and mixed with a few sparkly, mirrored pieces and textural accents,” says Fenimore. “It feels like updated glamour to me.” Light purple paint pairs well with bold accents, like orange, yellow, and emerald green, without crowding an already cramped space.

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Black and white

What's black and white and chic all over? A large-looking living room, apparently. "The duo can work in any style, from classic and traditional to bold and eclectic, and it mixes well with all colors," says Fenimore. "Black walls have been all the rage this year and rightfully so. The elegant palette works wonders on small spaces when it is balanced by lighter and brighter whites and neutrals." For a real added element of glam (that may or may not be inspired by Kris Jenner's entryway) incorporate mixed textures, mirrored elements, and metals.

For more hibernation-friendly home updates (that won't wipe out your wallet), check out these woven wall hangings, and these 11 hacks for creating the ultimate zen-den. 

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