The Worst Paint Colors for Small Spaces

paint chips
Spooner/ Twenty20

Choosing paint color for your small space is more than just finding the brightest white in hopes of making the room look bigger. You're not limited to light colors for your small space, but you'll want to choose the right hue to make the most of the room. 

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    Light Gray Dining Room
    Using soft gray paint can open up a small dining room. ©Debra Somerville/Olga Adler Designer

    White may seem like the perfect paint color for a small room because it can brighten up dark corners and reflect light all around.  The dated idea that small rooms should only be to be painted white thankfully has been replaced with an unlimited palette of colors. 

    White paint in a small room can actually make it look boxy and bland. Though white is supposed to make your room look light and bright, it can actually do the opposite when it shows every shadow or dark corner. White can still be a...MORE stunning choice a small space, but it works best as an accent or trim color. Instead, try a soft pewter gray like interior designer Olga Adler did in this small dining space. The silvery gray paint adds elegance and light, framed by white accents for a beautiful space.

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    Neutral paint colors are wonderful for small spaces. While you're not limited to using neutrals, you'll find that the right neutral color can make a small room look more spacious because of its simplicity.

    Don't assume that any neutral color paint color will work in your small space. A neutral color that is too muted is going to make your room look small and dark. Look for warm neutral colors that reflect light around the room, and pair them with crisp white trim and accents for an...MORE open and airy ​style. A trick to make your neutral space look more spacious is to choose neutral furnishings, drapes, or linens, to match your wall color. 

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    paint colors
    Amandarydell/ Twenty20

    Knowing which hues work well in a small space is just the starting point of your search for the best paint color. Don't be tempted to choose a color just because it makes your room look larger. Your goal is to find a paint color that makes your small space look awesome. That is the most important thing to remember as you look through paint color possibilities.

    It's true that a color you love may make not be the best choice for creating a spacious appearance, but if you aren't excited...MORE by the color when you walk in the room it won't matter how large it looks. If you have a favorite paint color in mind you may need to adjust the shade to suit your room, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on it completely. If you can't find any way to use the paint color you really love, try neutral walls with your favorite color used generously as an accent. 

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    When you're decorating a small room every square inch matters. The wrong paint color is harder to hide in a small space because every wall is close, no matter where you stand or sit. 

    Undertones are what separate the right paint colors from the wrong ones. You'll have to pay very close attention to any paint color you're considering because a neutral with an unexpected pink or green undertone will be painfully obvious in your small space. Neutral colors are the most frequent undertone...MORE offenders. Your paint store can help you identify undertones, but sampling the colors in your home is the best way to know what color make be lurking beneath your favorite neutral. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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    Red is a gorgeous color and has been the go-to paint color choice for dining rooms for years. The truth is that most red paint colors are totally wrong for decorating a small space.

    The energy and warmth of red can heat up a small room and leave you feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable. Red is better left as a color accent for a small space. If you must decorate your room in red, try tone-down colors like rust or russet instead. You'll still get the warmth and appearance of a rich warm color...MORE without the vibrancy and energy that creates problems in small spaces.

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    Fulatronik/ Twenty20

    Before you settle on your new paint color, be sure that you're choosing a color you can live with. If you found a new funky, bright color, don't choose it just because it is trendy. Find a paint color in a similar shade but in a color that you can be comfortable living with for a while. 

    Bright colors, as well as faux painting and stripes, can all become tiring after a few years. Accent walls, painted furniture and home accessories are a stylish way to use specialty colors but can be...MORE easily changed if you're ready for a new look in your small space. 

How to Use Color in Small Spaces

The best colors for your small room don't have to be light or even neutral. Dark colors are not off-limits for small space decorating. How you decorate a small space is more important than choosing the lightest color in hopes of making the room look larger.