How to Choose the Right Living Room Paint Colors For Light Wood Floors

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I believe that there is nothing more important than color compatibility when designing your living room. I mean, you’re going to be spending a lot of time there, so why not put effort into making it look its best?

There aren’t many color combinations you can use with light wood floors, and picking the wrong one may end up making your living room look downright uninviting.

Additionally, this decision should be highly important and not taken lightly, since the flooring of your home contributes to your home’s resale value and you’ll want to make sure it goes well with the wall color.

If you’re thinking this decision is a difficult one to make, I’m here to provide some guidelines that’ll help you to make sure your living room has the feel and the look of a classy and elegant space.

Determining Undertones

In order to match paint and floor colors, you need to first know what undertones your wood floors are. Being able to determine what undertones your light hardwood floors may seem like a difficult task, but I’ll help guide you on how you can easily find this out.

Before I go into greater detail, you should know that there are two kinds of undertones. There are either warm undertones or cool undertones. Cool undertones are blue, gray, or purple. Whereas warm undertones are more yellow, orange, or red.

If you’re having trouble determining what undertone your floors are, I’d recommend just holding up different colored objects around your home with your floors to see which color it closely resembles. That color will help you determine your light hardwood floors undertone.

Choosing The Right Paint Color

Once you’ve gotten to know your undertones, it’s time to think of a good color for your walls. Light hardwood floors have a classic look and have seen a great surge in popularity in recent years. Choosing the right color for your walls isn’t too difficult of a task, so I’ve listed some tips below you can follow to help you pick the right wall color.

1. Avoid the Same Colors

Light wood floors generally have a dominating look no matter what color they are, which is why you absolutely shouldn’t match your floors with wall colors of the same color. I personally find this combination extremely bland, making both your walls and floors look completely dull and old which is why I’d highly recommend you steer clear of this look.

2. Choose Contrasting Colors

A bold choice would be to choose a color contrasting with your light wood flooring. A contrasting color can add a lot of depth to your room and in some cases completely change the look and feel of your living room. For example, a  cool-toned light blue colored wall will help contrast with your warm oak-colored wood tones to give a unique appearance to your room.

3. Pick a Neutral Look

Neutral colors for your wall can be a suitable background for your light wood floors. They go along well with any floor finish and look good with wood floors of any undertone. Such a look is also the best kind of look if you’re looking to hang up art or accessories. Due to its lack of a dominating presence, it’ll simply make everything else in your living room look more prominent.

4. Complementing Colors

A safer option would be to pick a wall color that has related undertones to your light wood floors. For example, if your light wood floor has warmer undertones then choosing a different shade of color with the same undertone can give your living room a pleasant and cozy look. This way, your walls will accentuate your wood floors instead of diverting attention from them.

5. Create a Subtle Look

You don’t always have to go to extremes when choosing a contrast, you can create a subtle look by simply pairing similar color shades that have varying intensities. Imagine a color wheel, and pick the colors adjacent to the color of your light wood floors. Colors next to each other on the color wheel can create a pleasant look that’ll make your living room look infinitely more welcoming.

6. Don’t Forget Your Furniture

When picking a color for your living room, it’s important to keep in mind the furniture that you have there. It can have a big impact when deciding the right colors, and correctly playing up the background color of the walls against the light wood flooring and the furniture will give you the best result in decorating your living room. You can also look toward your furniture for inspiration. For example, darker furniture would pair well with a darker wall color and light wood floors.

7. Select Some Samples

Sometimes translating what you have in mind to reality can be difficult and misleading. What looks good on images or in other people’s homes may not look good for your home. This can happen due to a lot of varying factors, which is why it’s important to align your expectations with reality.

The best way to do this is to choose samples of the wall color you want and place them up against your floor. Keep your samples in your living room for a few days to see their appearance in all lighting during the day and in the evening. The colors you think are good may not necessarily end up being the ones you want when you’ve picked them out as samples and placed them in your living room.

Samples can accurately tell you what you’ll be working with once you’ve chosen that color, so if the sample doesn’t quite live up to the expectations you had in mind, you can choose a different color and save yourself the alternative option of repainting your living room when you realize your mistake after it’s been made.

Timeless  and Classic Wall Colors

Still having trouble picking the right color? Well, you can’t go wrong with some of the choices I’ve listed below. These classic looks have it all, they range from sophisticated to stylish so don’t be afraid to go with what’s been known to work time and time again.

Welcoming White

Light wood floors generally go well with whiter and more pale colors. White paint on your walls gives an incredibly neat and clean look and the reflection of the light’s surface on the walls gives the room a spacious and airy feel, giving your living room a welcoming and hospitable look.

Graceful Gray

Sometimes white can be too blinding, so a striking option would be to paint your walls gray instead. Consider gray as a toned-down version of white, but don’t treat it as just a suitable alternative, it also has its own simplistic and graceful look that can liven up your living room, especially when paired with light wood floors.

Bold Brown

Brown will contrast against your light wood floors and give your interior a distinct look. You can create a good design if you add a darker shade of brown to an accent wall in your living room to make it even more pronounced. Having three white walls and a single dark brown accent wall will add a brand-new and unique look to your living room.

Blissful Beige

Beige seems similar to white and gray, but trust me, it has a completely different identity. Beige can add a comfy and inviting feel to your room, and this is even more true if it’s paired with light wood flooring. Since beige is an inherently neutral color it goes well with any artwork and furnishing in your living room as well.

Tranquil Taupe

Painting your living room taupe is a great way to add some warmth to the room. If you feel gray gives off a stark contrast and brown makes the room feel congested, taupe is a perfect middle ground between the two. It’s a classy look and a fashionable choice for your living room walls, providing a light and gentle atmosphere for your living room and brightening the space in conjunction with your light wood floors. 

Additionally, taupe pairs well with most design schemes and will work for years to come even if you revamp your entire color scheme or furniture, making it the safest option on this list by far.

Warmer Colors

As you know by now, if your flooring has a cooler undertone, it makes sense to opt for warmer undertones for your wall color. In these cases, I’d recommend colors such as peach or olive green. These colors perfectly match most light wood floors with cooler undertones, but I’d still recommend sampling so you know what the final product will look like!

Should Floors be Darker or Lighter Than Walls?

I’m often asked this question, and to be absolutely honest I believe that there isn’t an outright answer. It depends entirely upon your own theme, aesthetic, and the mood you have in mind for the room, and it also depends upon the color of your floor. 

Generally speaking, I think an easy way you can figure out a good combination is to choose one with higher contrast. Contrasting colors can give a regal and elegant look to the room, for example, with cooler undertone light floors, choosing darker colors is wiser, and with warmer undertone wood floors, choosing lighter colors is better.

Additionally, I’d like to add that if you’re repainting your walls and your hardwood floors have stayed the same over the years, they’ve probably lost their shine too. A hardwood floor that’s lost its shine can give an entirely different look to your room and should be considered when choosing your paint color.

If you’re going to redesign, make sure you do it right! Read our guide on how you can restore the shine of old hardwood floors, without having to worry about refinishing.

Enjoy Your Bright and Beautiful Living Room

In the end, it’s your living room and ultimately your choice however you design it. Hopefully, by now you have an idea of what color will be the best choice for your living room, and I hope my tips and advice help you make the right call in selecting the best color for your walls.

If you have any thoughts or potential color combinations you’d like to share, please leave a comment down below, I’d love to read them! If you liked this article then make sure to share it with your friends, especially if they’re looking to repaint their living room.

Happy painting!

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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