31 Best Colors to Make Small Rooms Feel Bigger

best paint color small room

A Beautiful Mess

Choosing the best color to make a small room feel bigger is more of an art than a science. Many interior designers and home decorators swear by white as the go-to choice for compact spaces. One of the key ways to make a room feel bigger is to maximize natural light, and white paint reflects light and creates an airy feel that can trick your eye and your mind into perceiving a space as larger. Painting a room white creates a blank canvas effect that can be embellished and accented with other colors as desired. 

Depending on your layout, the quality of your natural light, and your lighting and decor, there are a host of white shades to choose from, ranging from cool to neutral to warm tones, that will affect not only the look but also the feel of your room. Light neutral shades of gray, taupe, beige, or greige can stand in for white while adding a hint of color or warmth. Pale yellows, blues, greens, and even pinks can effectively function as neutrals in a small space that adds a whisper of color for those who find white walls too boring or sterile.

While it's undeniably true that a light and bright paint color can make a small space feel larger, the opposite can also be true. Painting a smaller space in a darker color creates the illusion that the space is larger by tricking the eye into not knowing where walls begin or end. Painting the walls and ceiling in a moody shade of charcoal gray, midnight blue, forest green, chocolate brown, or matte black can create an enveloping and cozy feel. A dark painted accent wall will recede, adding depth that will make the room feel more expansive.

Check out these paint colors that range from the starkest white to the blackest black to help you choose the perfect shade to elevate your own small space.

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    Pure White

    best paint for small room

    Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    Emily Henderson Design used pure white paint without any undertones to highlight the raised ceilings and maximize light in this compact bathroom. Gold-toned finishes, wood accents, and bold blue patterned tile flooring keeps it from looking sterile.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball All White

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    best paint small room

    Design by Leclair Decor

    Leclair Decor used their go-to white to lend a more open feel to this small laundry room and give the walls a freshly laundered feel.

    Paint used: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace

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    Lime White

    best paint color small room

    Design by Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo by Amy Neunsinger

    Leanne Ford Interiors used a lime white paint on the walls of this snug 1920s hunting cabin bedroom that has a yellow undertone that can make it appear as if the walls are covered in whitened lime depending on the time of day or your choice of lighting.

    Paint used: Crisp Linen by BEHR Dynasty Crisp Linen

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    Flat White

    best paint small room

    Design by Cathie Hong Interiors / Christy Q. Photo

    A lack of cool or warm undertones on the flat white walls of this small bathroom from Cathie Hong Interiors makes the room feel light and airy and leaves space for pale blue tile and black accents to create an impression.

    Paint suggestion: Sherwin-Williams Extra White

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    Soft White

    best paint small room

    Design by Emily Bowser for Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    Emily Bowser designed this small bathroom for Emily Henderson Design, covering the walls in a shade that mixes cool white with a hint of pink warmth inspired by the appearance of a polar bear cub. The balance of cool and warm tones creates the impression that the paint color doesn't have any undertones at all, resulting in a balanced, soft white that adds luminosity to a space with limited natural light from a single window.

    Paint used: Behr Polar Bear

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    Soft White

    best paint small room

    A Beautiful Mess

    The paint used in this small laundry room from A Beautiful Mess also has a pink undertone that creates a bright but soft wash of white thanks to the abundant natural light from the windows that feels warm, fresh and cheerful without feeling sterile. Warm accents like gold-toned metal wall hooks, cabinet pulls, and sink plumbing fixtures and hanging plants add warmth. Pale gray marble countertops and a cool pastel mint green door adds balance.

    Paint used: Sherwin-Williams Marshmallow

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    best paint small room

    Fantastic Frank

    In this small Swedish studio apartment from Fantastic Frank, a cozy shade of green-tinged beige paint is carried from the walls onto the built-in kitchenette to create a seamless and intentional look in the compact space. Earthy green floor-to-ceiling drapes to make the space feel larger are a perfect complement.

    Paint suggestion: Sherwin-Williams Barcelona Beige SW 7530

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    best paint small room

    deVOL Kitchens

    A light and sandy beige on the walls of this galley-style English kitchen from deVOL Kitchens adds warmth and complements pale sage green cabinetry for a timeless look.

    Paint suggestion: Clare Neutral Territory

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  • 09 of 31


    best paint small room

    Design by Vanessa Scoffier / Photo by Hotel Henriette

    Interior designer Vanessa Scoffier added interest to a small room at Paris' Hotel Henriette by creating a neutral-toned geometric color block effect on the walls using a mixture of white and greige paint. The mix of gray and beige tones work with cool linen upholstery and warm-toned wood and gold accents, creating a flexible backdrop that can work with a number of decor changes.

    Paint suggestion: Clare Greige

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    best paint small room

    Desiree Burns Interiors

    Taupe is another alternative to white that works well in a small space, and will look lighter or deeper depending on the time of day and the light. This small bathroom from Desiree Burns Interiors has a calming palette, with pale taupe paint on the walls and a slightly deeper shade of the gray and beige hybrid on the sink vanity. Gold accents add warmth and a patterned tile floor creates a focal point.

    Paint suggestion: Clare Flatiron

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    Pale Gray

    best paint small room

    Ursula Carmona of Home Made By Carmona

    Blogger Ursula Carmona of Home Made By Carmona chose to cover the walls and cabinetry of her small, narrow laundry room with luminous light gray paint that works well with gold-toned hardware and lighting fixtures and adds contrast to the glossy black stacked washer dryers.

    Paint suggestion: Behr Irish Mist 790C-1

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    Medium Warm Gray

    best paint small room

    Fantastic Frank

    This small bathroom from Fantastic Frank is bathed in a soothing shade of medium-toned brown-gray paint whose warmth is picked up with gold-toned and glass accents and amber glass accessories to create a rich and inviting feel in a tiny space.

    Paint suggestion: Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray HC-168

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    Dark Gray

    best paint small space

    Becca Interiors

    This small bathroom from Becca Interiors is painted in a deep warm gray that instantly lowers blood pressure and adds dimension to the space. Thoughtful details like the vintage pedestal sink and painted wood half-shutters make it feel polished, and a large built-in mirror over the sink painted out in the same rich gray doubles views and reflects light.

    Paint suggestion: Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10

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    Pale Yellow

    best paint small room

    Thistlewood Farms

    Thistlewood Farms gave a narrow laundry room a refresh with a coat of warm yellow paint with cool green undertones, a balanced and barely there light neutral color that marries well with bright white appliances, painted furniture, and trim.

    Paint used: Sherwin-Williams Rice Grain

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    Creamy Yellow

    best paint color small room

    deVOL Kitchens

    In this U-shaped, stand-alone kitchen from deVOL Kitchens, a creamy and subtle shade of yellow-tinged off-white paint covers the cabinetry, while a milky pastel yellow shade on the vintage-style stove and gold-toned cabinet pulls add extra warmth to the small space. If you don't have a vintage stove, you can always use a version of this subtle color pairing on walls, upper and lower cabinetry, trim, or doors.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball White Tie (cabinetry), Farrow & Ball Dorset Cream (stove)

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    Bright Yellow

    best paint small room

    Studio Peake

    This cozy British living room from Studio Peake is painted in a bright and sunny yellow that is a counterpoint to the gray skies beyond the window and an energizing color to make a traditional living room feel more stimulating. While this might seem like a bold choice for a small room, keep in mind that any shade of yellow plays well with other colors, like the red and green accents throughout the room, making it a versatile choice.

    Paint suggestion: Clare Golden Hour

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    Neon Yellow

    best paint small room

    Hotel Henriette

    While using bright neon colors on every wall in a small space can feel overwhelming, a smaller dose of a shocking feel-good shade can create a bracing effect that is so bold and confident that it takes the focus off the size of the room. In this small space at Paris' Hotel Henriette, interior designer Vanessa Scoffier skipped the headboard and added a neon yellow wrap-around half wall that defines the sleeping area. The purposefully imperfect hand-rolled uneven border has an undone quality that makes it even more chic, and is easy and fun to DIY.

    Paint suggestion: Benjamin Moore Sunshine 2021-30

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    Blush Pink

    best paint small bathroom

    Design by Cathie Hong Interiors / Margaret Austin Photo

    This pink powder room from Cathie Hong Interiors has textured pink walls that add color and interest to a windowless room.

    Paint suggestion: Little Greene Pink Slip

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    Barely There Pink

    best paint small room

    Design by Caroline Andreoni Interior Design / Photo by Laura Jacques

    Caroline Andreoni Interior Design painted the walls of this tiny Paris studio in a barely there shade of peachy pink that adds a luminous subtle glow that is airy and refreshing but warmer than plain white.

    Paint suggestion: Clare Wing It

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    Rose Beige

    best paint color small room

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Ashley Montgomery Design added dusty rose beige paint to the walls of this hybrid dressing room and home office that gives it a cozy feel and creates a soft backdrop for a gallery wall of floral illustrations and antiques.

    Paint suggestion: Clare Meet Cute

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    True Pink

    best color small room

    deVOL Kitchens

    This small L-shaped laundry room from deVOL Kitchens is painted in a peppy pink shade that adds a rosy and uplifting glow to walls and cabinetry and creates a retro feel when paired with black countertops.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Nancy's Blushes

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    Sage Green

    best paint small room

    Design by Cathie Hong Interiors / Christy Q. Photo

    This small bathroom from Cathie Hong Interiors has soothing sage green wall paint that gives it a zen feel. A large mirror hung over the sink reflects the opposite staircase just outside the room, making the modest space feel bigger and more dimensional. You can achieve a similar effect with other pale green hues such as moss green or olive green depending on what you prefer.

    Paint suggestion: Benjamin Moore Winchester Sage 628

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    Mint Green

    best paint small room

    deVOL Kitchens

    If you enjoy color and want to go bold, green is an excellent choice that will read almost like a neutral in a small space. deVOL Kitchens turned a tiny L-shaped kitchen into a vibrant and enveloping little getaway with a mixture of green backsplash tiles, vibrant mint green walls and ceiling paint, and copper accents.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Arsenic

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    Light Blue-Green

    best paint color small room

    Fantastic Frank

    This tiny apartment bedroom located just off the living room in this space from Fantastic Frank is painted in a soothing light blue-green shade that has an instantly calming effect that complements the Scandi-style pale wood tones throughout. Painting the pocket door in the same shade helps to visually enlarge and define the space.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Green Blue

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    Dark Blue-Green

    best paint color small room

    Design by House 9 Interiors

    House 9 Interiors painted this small London home office in a dark blue with green undertones on the walls, ceiling, and corner built-in bookshelves that creates a grounded feel and adds dimension to the small space.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Hague Blue

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    Pale Blue

    best paint small room

    The House That Lars Built

    This baby room from The House That Lars Built has pale robin's egg blue walls that give it a cool and calming feel, complement bright white baby furniture, and create a soothing backdrop for a hand-painted pear tree and little red bird mural.

    Paint suggestion: Bare Minimum 8003-43A by Valspar

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    Medium Blue

    best paint small room

    deVOL Kitchens

    Dusty medium blue paint works as well on the walls as it does on the modern cabinetry in this timeless London kitchen from deVOL Kitchens. Painting the ceiling in a paler off-white keeps the color from overwhelming and the self-contained space—complete with a classic fireplace—from feeling too closed in.

    Paint suggestion: Benjamin Moore Dusty Cornflower CSP-605

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    Classic Navy

    best paint small room

    Design by Kate Marker Interiors / Photo by Margaret Rajic

    Kate Marker Interiors painted this small powder room in a classic navy blue, creating a calming feel that pairs well with beige, white, wood, and gold accents.

    Paint suggestion: Benjamin Moore Kensington Blue 840

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    Deep Blue

    best paint small room

    Designed by Velinda Hellen for Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    This small sitting room designed by Velinda Hellen for Emily Henderson Design is painted in a deep shade of blue that differentiates it from the white walls of the adjacent kitchen. A brighter blue velvet sofa keeps it tonal while adding contrast, and dark leather, wood, and gold accents add contrast.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Hague Blue

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    Pitch Black

    best paint color small room

    Lobster and Swan

    In this small English country bathroom from Lobster and Swan, the walls and wainscoting are painted in a deep shade of black that creates a tranquil and dramatic space for a restorative bubble bath in the classic clawfoot tub.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Pitch Black

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    Charcoal Black

    best paint color small room

    Design by Alvin Wayne

    This small NYC bedroom from interior designer Alvin Wayne has floor-to-ceiling windows that flood it with natural light. Matte charcoal black paint creates an accent wall behind the bed that helps the wall recede, making the room feel larger, while mirrored nightstands help bounce the light around.

    Paint suggestion: Farrow & Ball Off-Black

  • In a small room should you paint the trim a different color?

    Consider ignoring the impulse to paint walls in one color and trim and/or ceiling in another. In a small space you want the eye to travel around the room without interruption, to create a sense of flow that doesn’t stop where the wall paint meets the ceiling, and painting every surface of the room in the same color can help create a seamless feel. 

  • What paint finish is best for small rooms?

    When choosing paint for a small room, be mindful that a matte finish will help hide any imperfections in the wall, but it will also absorb more light. A satin or velvet finish will show more wall imperfections but will also reflect more light. High-gloss finishes will reflect the most light but are also unforgiving when it comes to obscuring imperfections, and in most cases will feel a little too in-your-face in a small room. Unless of course that's exactly the effect that you are want.

  • How do you know what a paint looks like on your wall?

    Keep in mind when selecting paint that the shade you see on a screen or even a tiny paint swatch will not look like the same color once it’s covering your walls. Do yourself a favor and try any color you are considering on the wall first, ideally on a large paint swatch that you can move around to see how it looks on different walls, day and night, in every kind of light. You might be surprised that the white you thought was neutral-toned looks too yellow or gray on your wall. Or that there are purple undertones in the gray you loved in the room in the image gallery that don’t sit right with your taste or decor.