Selecting a living room color palette upgrade that feels cohesive, layered and nuanced can feel overwhelming. Yes, it’s important to consider your space and the furnishings that you have, but you should also have fun with the process.
We’ve built a set of considerations to help guide your custom sofa color choice, incorporating interior design tips that will allow you to commit with confidence.
Consideration 1: Current Living Room Design
The first thing to consider when starting with a blank sofa canvas is your current living room décor. This includes fixed design elements that will influence your overall color scheme, including wall color, quality of natural light and other furniture.
Start with wall color
This will be the first indication of whether you have a prescribed color palette, or if you’re starting from scratch. If you have white living room walls, the possibilities are endless and the wall color won’t play much of a role in your overall sofa color choice. However, if you have colored walls, you have a few different options. For example, if you have navy blue walls, you can opt for a tonal scheme and go with a sofa in the solid blue color family, or featuring a blue pattern. On the other hand, you could also consult a trusty color wheel and opt for a complementary color – in this case, something with yellow tones. This is a no-fail exercise that you can use as a jumping-off point for just about any wall color.
Notice your quality of light
This is something that a lot of people overlook, but it’s a fixed consideration and not something you have particular control over, so it’s important to build this into your decision / Feng Shui process.
If a space doesn’t get a lot of natural light – perhaps you have a small living room that without many windows – choosing a sofa on the lighter side (versus, say, a deep navy velvet sofa) can create brightness and airiness that reads well in a darker room. However, this (like everything in design!) isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If you’re aiming for moody, a darker sofa could turn a small living room into a cozy jewel box.
Consider existing furnishings
What are you already working with? In other words, what décor is non-negotiable and already part of your space? Think: the coffee table, area rug, accent chairs – take into consideration both their colors and materials. If you’re working with a lot of natural and organic materials, for example, you may want to opt for a sofa in an earth tone.
Consideration 2: Lifestyle
This is perhaps one of the most important functional considerations in sofa color choice. It’s no secret that kids and pets can wreak havoc in high-traffic areas. But it’s also a common misconception that stylish and family-friendly don’t mix. There are a number of insider tricks to blend your grown-up sense of style with the daily trials of markers, spills and pet hair. When considering sofa design and color, keep in mind that more intricate patterns better hide stains. The Inside’s Creative Director Danielle (a toddler mom herself) recommends a pattern with variation in color and scale (such as an animal or print), while avoiding anything with a white background.
Another common misconception is that darker colors are good concealers. As anyone who’s ever owned a black car can attest – dark solids often show the most dirt! If you’re a low maintenance person who’s looking to enjoy their sofa without the regular cleanings, opt for a lighter upholstery color. This will better hide dust, lint and pet hair. Though somewhat counterintuitive, pet owners will be grateful.
Consideration 3: Personal Style
Up to this point, these considerations have been largely objective – function rather than form. This will guide you in the right direction, but the best part about interior design is building a room idea based on your personal style – a style that feels entirely your own and allows you to express yourself in the space where you spend so much of your daily life.
If you identify with a specific style bucket, use that as guidance. Here are a few of the most common aesthetics, with corresponding sofa color guidance:
- Mid-Century Modern: To keep with a mid-century modern living room vibe, steer towards warm tones.
- Bohemian: If you’re aiming for a boho vibe, it’s all about layering. Opt for a neutral base fabric and drape varying textiles on top of the sofa. Incorporate different pillow fabrics and indigo throws.
- Traditional: Consider a neutral solid or a more classic print.
- Modern: Here, anything goes in terms of color, but it’s more about limiting your palette to one color story. For example, if you opt for a blue sofa, keep everything in the blue family, with neutral accents.
- Maximalist: Your sofa will definitely be the conversational centerpiece of the room.
Different sofas will speak to different styles, but if you don’t know what style suits you (or if, like us, you love them all), don’t fret! Explore fabrics (order swatches!) and see what jumps out to you in person. There are also a number of fun, personalized quizzes that can get you started.
Take Your Choice for a Test Drive
So let’s say that you’ve applied this framework, and you’ve narrowed your selection down to 2-3 options, but you’re still suck. There’s a plan for that! The key is to order swatches in the final fabrics you’re considering (limit your selection to no more than 5 to avoid choice paralysis). Then, run a quick series of tests. Set the swatch down where your sofa will be and check out the fabric in different lights throughout the day. You can also test the swatch against your lifestyle – why not run it on your dog’s back to see how the shedding holds up to your color choice? And finally, live with it for a few days. Ask yourself: what color brings the most joy?
While this framework will give you a strong starting point, don’t forget that color is an incredibly personal choice. First and foremost, your sofa should be a piece that you continue to fall in love with as your space evolves, and one that truly makes you feel like yourself at home. And remember: you don’t need to be an interior designer to choose the perfect custom sofa color – whether it’s a neutral linen or a bold multi-color print.
Bonus Tip: You might consider matching a new sofa with a modern womb chair or something similar.
By deciding which of the above considerations are most important to you, and by prioritizing joy, you’ll end up with a piece that seemed like the obvious choice all along.