10 Designer-Recommended Paint Colors That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Bigger
What updates are best for a small space? As it turns out, the most impactful may be the easiest to change: the paint color. If a room in your home feels cramped and needs a refresh, a little expert advice can give you the confidence to transform it. Nicole Gibbons, Founder, and CEO of Clare Paint, offers her thoughts on how to get it right: "Light, bright colors draw less attention to themselves and help to make a space feel bigger—largely because they disappear," she says. "On the other hand, darker colors tend to recede from view, so a more saturated color on the walls could help to 'push' the walls out and therefore give the appearance of a larger space." If you're wondering which way to go in your home, mixing these two ideas can be a great solution, she says. "What I like to do is combine both strategies by choosing a darker color for flooring, like an espresso or walnut toned hardwood floor, and pair that with a crisp light color on the walls," she says. Clare's Whipped or Wing It are great options to try. This way, she says, "you get the best of both worlds." Atlanta-based interior designer Alice Cramer encourages readers to consider how much light is streaming in before making a decision. "If there is nice natural light, then a dark paint color can be really lovely," she says. "However, I would recommend doing the walls and trim all in the same color if you go this route to make the space feel larger. If there is no natural light, I would explore lighter colors." Whether you're planning to go bold or stick to neutrals, read on for advice and paint color recommendations from top Southern designers you can trust.
Lead Gray, Benjamin Moore
Houston designer Katie Davis of Katie Davis Design added depth to a client's powder bath using Benjamin Moore's Lead Gray. "The key here was all-over color, and of course other decor elements that juxtapose the shade, like the floor tile and the sink." Rich paint colors work particularly well if there is architectural interest like paneling or shiplap, she adds.
Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore
Charleston interior designer Megan Molten says her go-to paint color for making a room feel larger is Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace. "I've used it so much that it's become my signature shade. It's really just the perfect bright white—creating the ideal backdrop for that clean, coastal, and airy feel my clients are looking to achieve in their homes."
Down Pipe, Farrow and Ball
Houston designer Jennifer Barron of Jennifer Barron Interiors recommends Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball, which she describes as a warm, dark gray. "It's the perfect color to make a small or cozy space feel larger," she says. "The depth and darkness of the color is inviting, yet allows the space to feel much larger than if it had been painted a lighter color." Barron suggests Down Pipe for any small space "as it leaves you feeling cozy and grounded in the room," she says.
White Dove, Benjamin Moore
New Orleans-based designer Hattie Sparks turns to Benjamin Moore's classic, White Dove, to brighten any space. "This color white is my favorite, primarily because it doesn't pull yellow or blue, like many other shades of white can," she says. "It's a pure, fresh, bright shade that helps spaces feel clean and airy, not sterile. It looks great in all shades of light and in almost every type of room. Truly the most universal white, in my opinion."
Onyx, Benjamin Moore
Philip Thomas Vanderford and Jason James Jones of Dallas's Studio Thomas James chose Benjamin Moore's Onyx for a client's modern office. "By painting both the walls and ceiling a matte black, we were able to create a home office design that pulls you in and allows you to focus on day-to-day tasks," they say. "We used emerald green for the window treatments and upholstery to bring a natural feel to the space while adding that perfect hint of color."
Coral Dust, Benjamin Moore
Vanderford and Jones encourage readers to have fun with color and pattern in tight quarters, too. "While this space may be small, it is full of cheer. By selecting a light but glamorous pink shade for this home workspace, we were able to create a powerful and bright interior that inspires you to get to work," they say. "We always suggest to our clients to select a bright color for smaller spaces; it's the perfect opportunity to be bold and show off your personality."
Meander Blue, Sherwin Williams
Morgan Farrow, Principal Designer of Morgan Farrow Interiors in Dallas, says Meander Blue by Sherwin Williams works wonders for children's rooms. "This aqua tone was the perfect paint selection for this girl's room and really added an extra layer of excitement and personality," she says. " When designing a small space, I think color selection can completely transform the overall feel. This bedroom now feels larger and provides a joyful place to grow."
Spare White, Sherwin Williams
Principal designers Anne Scott Gates and Allison Smith of Maison Studios recommend Spare White by Sherwin Williams. "It has just enough blue-gray tones to offer the slightest bit of contrast when used in conjunction with a true white, allowing any millwork or details to stand out without breaking up the space," Gates says.
Pashmina, Benjamin Moore
Interior designer Julie Dodson of Houston's Dodson Interiors transformed a client's office using Benjamin Moore's Pashmina at 50 percent intensity. Her best advice for readers? "Regardless of the paint color you choose, in a small space it's best to give the room an allover tone. Paint the trim, walls and baseboards the same color," she says. "Instantly the room expands."
Tricorn Black, Sherwin Williams, High Gloss Finish
When designing a small space, Interior designer Jean Liu encourages clients to use a dark paint color like Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams. "Contrary to conventional thinking, painting a room dark and minimizing the delineation between the walls, the ceilings, and the baseboards allows the room to appear larger and taller than it may actually be," she says. "We love the effect it gave this small library."