Good options for wall colour for a plant-filled living room?
September 19, 2019 10:05 AM   Subscribe

My partner & I recently moved to a new house in a colder climate. Our living room (L-shaped, good light, SW exposure) will have many plants. I’m having trouble finding design inspiration for the space. Almost every image of rooms with lots of plants has white walls. I’m not sure white is right for what’s also supposed to be a cozy living room. Plus, the winter palette of white / grey / brown leaves me craving colour indoors. So where can I look for more varied design inspiration? And does anyone have specific colour / design suggestions for me?

(Not looking for garden or plant-related advice here, btw)
posted by sixswitch to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yellow or orange or pink will make your plants pop very prettily and also make you feel cozy.
posted by janell at 10:09 AM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'd suggest warm yellows (more orange than green). I've had Behr's Bagel and Opal Cream in various houses and loved how cozy the rooms felt, even in winter.
posted by belladonna at 10:16 AM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You may want to play around with googling variations on "1970s plants interior decor home" to see if anything strikes you. You don't have to go vintage, but it is worth seeing some of the color schemes and then thinking about those in your own style/tastes. Lots of warmth and richness there.
posted by Tchad at 10:42 AM on September 19, 2019

I've been reading a lot of interior decorating blogs about paint colors trying to figure out how to approach my own house, and one of the things that stuck with me is "green loves green". So how about leaning into green? I hate pale green rooms (and they make me look sickly), but how about a nice deeper green?
posted by another zebra at 10:46 AM on September 19, 2019

I have a very creamy, warm white called Marscapone (Benjamin Moore) that I love. It glows in the sun.
posted by sallybrown at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I went to a salon once that had a plant wall with paint the color of...maybe halfway between the inside and outside of a butternut squash. It was a deep space with only front windows and then plenty of lighting but just that warm pow of color coming through the plants (which were mostly on the darker scale of green houseplants) has clearly stuck with me all this time, it was really lovely.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm a fan of a pale warm gray, like Sherwin Williams "Downing Sand". I think it's in one of their vintage/restoration collections. It could be called Dover Sand, but I don't think so. I think it would look wonderful with plants.
posted by amtho at 10:56 AM on September 19, 2019

Light magenta/pink (like #ff88ff) will reflect nearly as much of the red and blue wavelengths of light that plants need to grow as a white wall would, while being a bit more colorful. (Green walls suck up both red and blue and consequently "look" darker to the plants than they do to humans.)

The complimentary color of most leaves is lavenderish (in the neighborhood of #c0a1e7), which would give you the strongest contrast between background and leaves, if you're looking for something to make the leaves really pop.

Any pastel in the purplish-blue / purple / purplish pink range would work about as well, in terms of leaving plants almost as much light to grow with as a white wall, and providing something for them to pop against.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:58 AM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Going in a completedly different direction, if it's a smaller space, painting it a super dark, rich color can be really really cozy, and green leaves pop against a dark color. I'd look into a super saturated grey, navy or black rather than browns, but that's my personal preference. (and I splurged on painting my bedroom in "hauge blue " from farrow and ball, and I'm a complete convert to saturated colors now)

If you search "dark, moody livingroom with plants" you get a lot of interesting options.
posted by larthegreat at 10:59 AM on September 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

I have a wall of plants (philodendron monstera 5' tall; peace lily 5' tall, snake plant, pothos, lavendar, plus various cacti). My living room is a dark red, and my furniture is cream colored. Since the plants are against the window, it provides a really nice contrast with the dark walls. I suggest going dark blue as well. Good luck!
posted by alathia at 11:12 AM on September 19, 2019

I have a room done up in pale eau de Nil and it really makes the plants pop - I think the key is that it's a blue-green shade and the blue should be slightly dominant. It's also very springtime-looking and doesn't darken the room at all.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:01 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Check out the Jungalow instagram page. Lots of colorful plant filled spaces. I generally feel 22% more cheerful just viewing their stream.
posted by fshgrl at 12:04 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Instagram is a good place to get this kind of design inspiration. @Jungalow is a good starting place. Following tags can be useful -- I follow a bunch but maybe start with #maximalistinteriors and see where that leads you.

Sample lots of shades, no matter which colour you think you prefer. The process of elimination in the space will really help you narrow down to the best colour.
posted by stowaway at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2019

Something between off-white and buttercup would look nice next to the green plants.
posted by soelo at 12:34 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think right now jewel colors are the thing, so deep, rich colors. In my opinion, those colors require a high ceiling and white contrast paint on doors and moldings, and the ceiling. Then they can be gorgeous. Or limit them to one wall or an element. I'm looking for petrol colored drapes, to compliment my caramel walls.
My first thought, before I'd even read your whole question, was a pastel striped wallpaper, but googling didn't give me anything I found interesting. It may be a personal thing, but wallpaper reminds me of summer. When I was a kid, Carl Larsson was very popular as an inspiration for decoration, and I think it has stuck with me. (The linked picture doesn't have wallpaper, but is relevant).
Once I had an apartment where the living rooms were painted to match a stick of butter from grass-fed cows. It was lovely, and even better when the deep windowsills were filled with plants (not always, because I travel a lot).
posted by mumimor at 12:47 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love the eau de nil look but you have to choose your shade verrryyy carefully or you’ll end up with a hospital feel. I agree with those saying pink (one with warmer undertones as opposed to a blue-we bubble gum pink)—I used Sherwin Williams’ “Cosmetic Peach” in my sunny, plant-filled dinning room and have been very happy with it.
posted by lovableiago at 12:51 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should mention this is a low-ceilinged space, with not much in the way of trim.
posted by sixswitch at 12:54 PM on September 19, 2019

Also, I really like looking at catalogs for aesthetic inspiration—house plants and adventurous interior color both happen to be really trendy right now and I’ve seen some very cool looks in the Anthropologie Home and West Elm lookbooks.
posted by lovableiago at 12:55 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A few folks have mentioned yellow, so I'll caution that I know two people who painted rooms yellow, and both talked about how hard it was to get the yellow right. Independently. One did a million samples; the other painted the same room more than once. And both painted other rooms other colors, so they meant that it was harder than other colors, not harder than white.
posted by slidell at 1:07 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think Swedish homes (often with white walls) often look very cozy. If you have "warm"-feeling furniture (cozy fabric, etc) and some spots of bright color throughout the room, white walls could be fine...
posted by pinochiette at 1:09 PM on September 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

You could lean alllll the way towards cozy and do it up in saturated color patterns, like Victorians (or any of the specific other cultures they were inspired by).

Photos and essay on a working-class artist’s Morrisian house
posted by clew at 1:57 PM on September 19, 2019

Our plant filled (probably over-filled) home with alternating maroon and slate gray on different walls, with a white ceiling, feels cozy to me. I slept for three years in a dark blue room. Before we put anything into it, it looked great, but it somehow made everything, including plants, look strange and out of place. I was too lazy to change it, but I wouldn't do it again.
posted by eotvos at 2:25 PM on September 19, 2019

If you don’t mind that it’s very “in” right now, a medium coral I think always pops extremely well with foliage greens and to me says vibrant, cozy, and fun.
posted by seemoorglass at 3:18 PM on September 19, 2019

Deep and intense colours are tricky, they need more fussing & coats to even out, and they sometimes turn funny in the end. Easier to stay with warm-tone pales or subtle warm pastels, and add on the jazz with furnishing & decor, as mentioned above.

(unless you're feeling very jazzy, then there's also wallpaper, but that's another quite different story)
posted by ovvl at 6:02 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A flower of any color looks great with its green leaves. Try exploring images of flowers to get ideas for wall color. Also, another way to search for living rooms with plants is to name a specific color, e.g. "blue living room plants."
posted by wryly at 10:03 AM on September 20, 2019

Response by poster: thanks! i’m thinking about light walls with maybe one orange wall (i was eying farrar & ball’s “charlotte’s locks”) and painting my pine plant shelving unit (on the opposite wall) glossy orange...
posted by sixswitch at 10:55 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sounds great! Would love to see pics once you do it!
posted by slidell at 1:22 PM on September 20, 2019

Response by poster: just did the classic colour-testing move of “go to goodwill, buy a couple things in the colour you’re considering to strew about”
posted by sixswitch at 4:02 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am a big fan of peachy pinks and house plants, along with the 70s macrame vibe. Teals and yellows look great too.

My house, with happy cat included for reference.

Source for drapes
posted by tealcoffeecup at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

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