Best Paint Colors for Small Spaces

Choosing the best paint color for small spaces can be tricky. Here are helpful suggestions from Roost Realty.Last weekend, we announced our new October series, all about interior paint colors. We're excited to offer the second installment! We get asked questions about interior home colors all the time -- and in fact, the idea for the series came from one of our readers, who sent us the following email:

I'd like to paint my bedroom and dining room this fall. The problem is, they're both small(ish) rooms. What are the best paint colors for small spaces? Any other suggestions for painting smaller rooms? Thanks! 

~ A Roost Reader from the Atwood Area

When painting smaller rooms, we know things can get tricky. Below are some our favorite tips and suggestions for choosing the best paint colors for small spaces:

In small spaces, go "cool"... You can make smaller rooms feel airy and more spacious by using pale, cool neutrals. These can range from cool grays, to pale, dusty blues, to any number of colors beyond and in between.

To keep things simple, we're big fans of using pale, cool grays with blueish undertones -- they help to modernize and lighten smaller spaces and work well with almost any decorating style. When looking at swatches, steer toward the lighter grays with blue or purple undertones -- not yellow or green, or warmer "greige"s (part gray, part beige). These are lovely colors, but the warm undertones can make your room look smaller.

Cool gray neutrals can range from almost-whites, to deeper, richer hues. Here are three of our time-tested favorites:

Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore -- a crisp, cool gray with bluish/greenish undertones in bright light. Perfect for bedrooms and baths.

pale gray paint, First Star, by Sherwin Williams

Porpoise by Behr -- a slightly darker, richer gray with bluish/purplish undertones, perfect for dining or living rooms.


You can see several shades of pale gray in action in these living rooms from Apartment Therapy.

...or, go "BOLD"! In a smaller room, a bold, saturated color can make a big statement and can create the perception of depth. Bold colors work especially well in bathrooms, kitchens, entryways, and other smaller rooms where walls are broken up with doorways and/or windows. Cool bold colors are more relaxing and work well in bedrooms and other low-key spaces. Warm bold colors are more stimulating and work well in dining rooms, kitchens, and other spaces where you want to spark conversation (as well as increased appetites!).

Some of our favorite bold colors for smaller spaces:

Bermuda Turquoise by Benjamin Moore -- a rich, grown-up take on teal. Great in bathrooms and in rooms with crisp, white trim. Shines in natural light.

Parakeet by Sherwin Williams -- a bright pop of color perfect for an entryway, breakfast nook or bathroom.

Red Jalapeno by Behr -- a warm, deep, coral-red, perfect for dining rooms and accent walls.

Here are some examples of bold colors in small spaces.

Avoid accent walls. Like most color-related rules, this one can easily be broken -- but often, we find that in smaller rooms, accent walls can make the space feel smaller and "choppier". However, this depends on the style of your home -- accent walls work well with open-concept architecture, and they can help to define multiples uses within a single space -- say, one corner of your living room carved out as a small dining room or office. Here's a helpful checklist to see if an accent wall is right for you.

Amplify architectural details. Crown molding? Arched doorways? Floor-to-ceiling built-ins? Other interesting architectural details? Use paint to highlight these -- and bring in complementary pops of colors in your furnishings, art, and textiles. Doing so distracts the eye from the size of the room and can make a smaller space feel infinitely more layered and interesting.

"Hide" furniture by painting it the same color as your walls. We need a place to store our books, but bulky bookcases can be overwhelming in smaller rooms. Trick the eye by painting shelves and other large pieces of furniture the same color as your walls. This causes the furniture to visually recede and almost look built-in. If you feel daring, you can add additional interest by painting the inside-backs of the shelves with a pop of color or line them with fabric or craft paper. (We'll be doing this for an upcoming post, so stay tuned!) This trick works with other decorative elements, too!

Paint your walls and trim the same color. This certainly isn't for everyone (and inspires some rowdy debate on home-design blogs!), but this trick can help a small, short room look taller and airier, which is handy in small rooms with shorter ceiling heights. Especially in modern spaces, or, in the opposite extreme, in spaces with an excess of trim work, painting the walls and trim the same color can make small rooms seem bigger.

Have another trick to share? Or a favorite color suggestion? Share it below in the comments section!

Next up, color suggestions for large and open-concept spaces...