If your living room is looking dull and lackluster, an off white paint refresh could be just what you need to give it new life. Unlike stark bright white, off white paint colors have added depth from subtle undertones of cream, gray, tan or beige. The right off white shade can make your living room feel more open and airy or wonderfully cozy depending on the hue. But with so many off white options to pick from, it can be tricky to select the perfect one for your space.
We’ll look at how different off whites can set various moods, what role lighting plays, how to complement your existing layout, and tips specifically for small or large living rooms. To get you inspired, we’ve also compiled a list of some of our favorite go-to off white paint colors for living rooms.
Determine the Mood You Want to Set
One of the great things about off white paint colors is that small variations in tone and intensity can create very different atmospheres. Before choosing your shade, think about the mood you want your living room to emanate.
Cool Off Whites
Cooler off whites with subtle undertones of gray, blue or green tend to feel more sleek and modern. They give off an airy, breezy vibe and can make rooms appear clean and serene. If you want your living room to promote relaxation and calm, a cool off white is likely the way to go. These work well in contemporary spaces and pair nicely with colors like pale blue and sage green.
Warm Off Whites
Warmer off whites with hints of cream, beige, tan or peach create a completely different effect than their cooler counterparts. They feel soft and welcoming, perfect for curling up with a good book. Warm off whites lend living rooms a cozy, lived-in charm. They complement colors like terracotta, light wood tones and accents of brick red. If you want your living room to have an intimate, inviting aura, choose an off white with golden or peachy undertones.
Neutral Off Whites
You can also select an off white with very subtle grading that reads as mostly neutral. This allows the other elements of your living room – whether rich Persian rugs or vibrant artwork – to take center stage. An ultra-neutral off white almost serves as a blank canvas that highlights other features rather than dominating the palette itself. Keep this option in mind if your goal is to layer other bold colors and prints over a quiet base. Just take care that overly muted walls don’t inadvertently make your space feel flat or boring.
Evaluate Your Living Room’s Lighting
The way an off white paint color appears is hugely impacted by the lighting conditions of the room. An off white that looks gorgeous in natural sunlight streaming through your bay window might appear too intense or take on a yellow cast under dim evening lamplight. Testing your off white paint samples under all the various lighting situations your living room experiences is crucial.
Pay attention to the direction your windows face and how the natural light shifts at different parts of the day. Northern light tends to be cooler and more blue-toned while southern light is much warmer and yellow-hued. If possible, test your off white swatches in the morning, afternoon and evening light to see all the undertones that emerge.
Artificial Light Sources
Don’t just examine paint samples in daylight; artificial light plays a key role as well. Ambient ceiling fixtures, recessed cans, table and floor lamps all influence living room paint colors. Look at swatches under soft white bulbs, daylight bulbs and LED lights. Check how the off white appears immediately under each light source as well as a few feet away. This will give you the full picture of how the shade interacts with your fixed and movable lighting.
Enhance Room Lighting
If after evaluating paint undertones under all your lighting you find the room lacks sufficient illumination, consider enhancing your lighting layout. Off whites really come alive with ample, well-placed lighting. Add architectural fixtures, wall sconces or standing lamps to showcase your fresh paint.
|Cool off whites
|Warmer off whites
|Neutral off whites
|Crisp, airy mood
|Soft, welcoming mood
|Spotlight other elements
|Cozy, charming aura
|Quiet base for bolder colors
Complement Your Existing Layout and Features
Take a look at the fixed elements of your living room from furniture to fireplaces when selecting an off white wall color. The goal is to have your off white walls enhance rather than compete with these existing components. Think about undertones that form pleasing, harmonious connections.
Wood Furniture and Floors
If you have dark wood furniture or hardwood flooring, go for an off white with similar reddish-brown notes. An off white with a subtle peach or tan base interacts beautifully with wood elements. Or choose a gray-based greige off white with parallel brownish undertones. Just avoid off whites with clashing undertones like purple, blue or green if you want wood fixtures to seamlessly coexist.
Tilework and Brick
Does your living room feature a brick fireplace or ceramic tile accent wall? Tie everything together with an off white wall color in a comparable color family. For instance, complement warm terracotta tilework with a soft almond cream off white. Let cool blue and green toned tilework really shine against an off white with comparable pastel aqua hints.
Artwork and Decor
Take note of the artwork and decor you plan to display in your living room. Rich teal accent pillows could look more vibrant against a cream versus greige off white. Conversely, stark black and white photography or prints may stand out better on cooler gray off white walls. Select a shade that spotlights these aesthetic features in the most pleasing way.
Choose an Off White for Your Room Size
Living room scale also plays a role in off white selection. While lighter off whites tend to open up smaller spaces, you can use deeper hues to infuse larger living rooms with coziness. Find an off white that enhances your room proportions.
Small Living Rooms
For pint-sized living rooms, stick to lighter end of the off white color spectrum. Whispery shades like pearl, vanilla cream and marshmellow white make rooms appear larger and airier. Cooler off whites also recede more than warm peach shades, so are smart choices when looking to visually expand tight quarters. Just ensure your particular off white reads light and bright rather than dingy, or a small space can collapse in on itself.
Large Living Rooms
Big living rooms provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with more saturated off whites. Go for shades like oat milk, sweet cream or toasted almond – these warmer off whites infuse expansive rooms with coziness. Dove gray, pale clay and minimally tinted whites work well too. Just stay away from intensity of color rather than depth. The last thing you want is an overly spacious feel.
|Small living rooms
|Large living rooms
|Pearl, vanilla cream – lighter
|Oat milk, sweet cream – warmer
|Open up tight quarters
|Infuse coziness into expanse
Sample Off White Paint Colors for Living Rooms
If you need some suggestions to kickstart your off white selection process, here are a few of our tried-and-true favorite off white paint colors for living rooms. All of the below strike that ideal balance of lightness without entering stark white territory. They provide sufficient tonal interest without skewing too far into beige or gray.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray (OC-23)
This gorgeous soft gray reads as a warm off white that flatters both cool and warm interior palettes. Its mild purple base glows in natural light. Classic Gray enhances trim details without overpowering.
Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige (SW 7036)
A flexible neutral beige-based off white that blends with many styles. Its warmth plays nicely with wood tones without going overly peachy. Accessible Beige provides a pleasing, inclusive backdrop.
Behr Marquee Chelsea Gray (MQ5-15)
This contemporary, airy neutral has a bit more saturation than some off whites. Its green-gray undertone offers more interest than basic beige while still feeling uncomplicated.
A quintessential off white, Seashell has definite gray notes without skewing gloomy. This cheerful, bright white flatters trim details and makes rooms glow.
Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray (SW 7015)
A very light dove gray that avoids any muddy or purple undertones. Its barely-there warmth feels crisp yet relaxed. Repose Gray sings against dark woods.
Behr Silver Drop
Just slightly warmer and deeper than pure white, Silver Drop enhances without overwhelming. This versatile, stain-resistant off white works everywhere from living rooms to kitchens.
|Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
|Soft warm gray
|SW Accessible Beige
|Flexible beige neutral
|Behr Chelsea Gray
Apply Your Off White Paint
Once you have selected the perfect off white shade for your living room, it is time to get to painting. While off white may seem low maintenance compared to deeper hues, proper prep and application are still key to achieving an end result you love.
Prep Your Walls
Give walls a thorough clean before opening any paint cans. Sand down any glossy areas and use spackle to patch imperfections for the smoothest possible surface. This allows off white to glide onto walls seamlessly. Prime if painting over a dramatically darker color so the off white covers completely.
Roll On At Least Two Coats
Plan to apply two to three coats of off white paint even if the first coat seems fully covered. Multiple layers give the truest rendition of the intended color. Use a premium quality roller and paintbrush to avoid any streaking or unevenness marring your off white walls.
|Sand glossy areas
|Apply 2-3 coats
Add Contrast With Trim and Ceilings
While off white paint beautifully stands on its own, rooms really pop when walls are offset with crisp, bright white trim and ceilings. The contrast showcases the dynamic variations within off white hues compared to the flatness of pure white. For contemporary spaces, continue off white paint onto ceiling and moldings for a streamlined, tone-on-tone aesthetic.
Crisp White Trim
Painting crown moldings, window and door casings bright white against off white walls adds definition without harsh delineation. White trim enhances off whites with cooler undertones like dove gray and green-blue hues.
Extending your wall color a few shades lighter onto the ceiling helps reinforce spaciousness and diffuse light through the entire room. Off whites gain a luminous glow against white overhead.
|Off white walls
|Bright white trim
|Pure white ceilings
|Definition without harshness
|Enhances light and space
Design a Cohesive Room Around Your Off White
The finishing touch is thoughtfully dressing your living room to complement the new off white background. Add accents that enhance rather than compete with the tranquil foundation of your fresh walls.
Select Supporting Hues
Choose accent colors for rugs, pillows and throws that harmonize with your wall color story. Warm sunset pink and salmon orange deepen a creamy off white. Navy and emerald make sophisticated companions to cooler greige shades. Just don’t overlayer too many competing colors or your living room may start to feel chaotic.
Incorporate Natural Textures
Think organic elements like woven baskets, jute or sisal rugs, wooden accessories and potted greenery to produce an inviting scene against creamy off whites. Crisp cool grays pair exquisitely with nubby linen and sheepskin textures for contrast. Hammered metals and mottled ceramic finishes also complement most off whites beautifully..
|Warm accents for creamy off whites
|Cool tones for greige off whites
|Organic textures infuse coziness
|Crisp finishes play off gray
Ready to refresh your living room with stylish, welcoming off white paint? Now that you know how to select an ideal shade for your specific space and decor, you are well equipped to give your living room an uplifting makeover. Carefully chosen off white paint can help small spaces feel grand, large living rooms become intimate galleries and inject any lackluster room with new life. We hope our tips help you discover your perfect living room off white that serves as a timeless, joyful backdrop for years to come!