How to Pick a Paint Color for a Family Room

The family room is an informal space that gets lived in a lot — you have a wide latitude for choosing paint colors, and you’ll probably want to consider wear and tear when making your selection. Pristine white walls might not be a great option in a family with young, rambunctious kids. Frilly pastel hues aren’t robust enough for sturdy furnishings, and somber shades lower the energy level. Getting the paint color right means evaluating your family, your furniture and your favorite shades.

Family rooms take a beating.

Go With What You’ve Got

• Paint color is easy to adjust. Replacing the sectional or the rug may not be that simple. Check the furniture and accessories slated for the family room and pull a color from a pattern or find a complement to keep things harmonious. The red-and-navy plaid sofa and navy upholstered ottoman will be fine in a pale blue room — a relaxing color that coordinates with the dominant sofa. The floor is the single biggest swatch of color besides the walls. If your floor is terra-cotta tile, pick a wall color to deepen the rich clay shade or inject an extra note of tropical sunshine. Lilac, light turquoise, mint or yellow straw paint will show off the floor tile and set the tone for the room.

Find the Flow

• Your family room isn’t an island; it’s connected to the rest of the house by hallways, arches between rooms or an open-plan layout. So you have to envision the journey from space to space, blending the family room wall color with adjacent shades. The apricot entry that opens to the cream living room with one russet accent wall, separated by a wide arch from the family room, might inspire you to stick to a warm palette. The family room walls could be butterscotch or pumpkin, a lighter color than the living room’s accent wall. Or you could choose the color complement of orange, blue. A rich steel blue or a paler cornflower blue will shift the mood from formal living room to informal family room without jarring. Use orange accents against the blue to link the spaces.

Accentuate the Positive

• Think of adjectives to describe your ideal family gathering spot: cozy, cheerful, relaxed, fun, peaceful, comfortable. Now imagine colors to go with your descriptions. Does your hard-charging family need a place to chill? A soft green on the walls is refreshing and takes the high voltage down a peg. Muted rose paint isn’t at all girly when accent pieces and upholstery contain grays, navy or medium-range cocoas. One barn-red accent wall picks up the pace in a sand, fawn or buff-colored room — and works with your country antiques and comfy old chintz couch. Soothing gull gray walls tone down the splashy black-and-white checkerboard tile floor and open the door to a surprising yellow sofa or a couple of colorful molded fiberglass rocking chairs.

Ceiling and Trim

• Eliminate the testing and tweaking and just paint the ceiling and trim white. That decor default works for most spaces and with most wall colors — just be sure the trim is wipe-down eggshell or glossy finish. But a compact cave of a family room will seem larger if the ceiling and trim are the same color as the walls. That saves you the trouble of taping and taking extra care where the walls meet a different color. Mono-color is also a way to go modern; this de-emphasizes dated architectural detail such as baseboards, crown molding and window frames. Once the whole room is chamois, vanilla or citrine, set your modern sectional and chrome and leather chairs on carpet squares or a bare plank floor and settle down in front of the flat screen.

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