The Worst Paint Colors for Small Spaces

Paint chips

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Choosing a 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. 

Here are some of the worst paint colors, along with the best tips and tricks to help you choose the right look for your small room.

  • 01 of 06


    White paint swatch

    The Spruce

    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 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.

  • 02 of 06

    Muted Neutrals

    Muted neutrals paint swatch

    The Spruce

    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 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. 

  • 03 of 06

    A Color You Don't Love

    Different color paints in cans

     Martin Poole/Getty Images

    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 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. 

  • 04 of 06

    Paint With Questionable Undertones

    Neutral room with warm undertone

     Bulgac/Getty Images

    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 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 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.
  • 05 of 06


    Red paint swatch

    The Spruce

    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 without the vibrancy and energy that creates problems in small spaces.

  • 06 of 06

    Bright Colors

    Bright cans of paint

     Eman Jamal/Getty Images

    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 easily changed if you're ready for a new look in your small space.