How to Choose a Sofa Color: Expert Advice

Cream Sofa
Selecting the right sofa color can be a daunting task.

To help you find the perfect sofa color for your home, we spoke with six experienced interior design professionals to help you understand what to look for and what to avoid — whether starting from scratch or integrating a new sofa into an existing room.

From considering wall colors and decor to deciding between neutral or bold and even exploring how to work with accessories and decor, our experts will guide you in selecting the perfect sofa color for your living space.

What to Consider When Choosing a Sofa Color

1. Wall Color

Rasha Rizwan, an interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors, suggests considering the wall color and the room’s overall color palette when choosing a sofa. If you have neutral walls, Rizwan says, "you have more freedom to choose a sofa color that complements the space." However, if the wall color is bold or patterned, opting for a solid color sofa in a complementary shade is best.

2. Purpose of the Sofa

Maxine Brady, an interior stylist and TV presenter with over 20 years in the design world, emphasizes the importance of determining the sofa's purpose in your room. "Do you want your sofa to stand out? Or to blend in? Do you want your sofa to be a design choice or a practical comfy spot to chill out on?" she asks.

To help make your decision, Brady recommends creating a Pinterest board to explore colors you're drawn to or looking at existing colors in your space that you love.

3. Existing Decor Colors, Textures, and Room Size

When incorporating the sofa into your existing decor, Rozit Arditi suggests starting with the area rug (if you have one) and deciding on the best sofa fabric for your needs. "We gravitate towards using the texture in the rug, so the sofa fabrics are usually more neutral for us," she explains.

It’s also worth considering the shapes, colors and textures of other furniture pieces like your coffee table, any side tables, and media console.

Gray Sofa
Gray sofas can be complemented by bolder accents (credit: Decorating Den Interiors – Erika Lee)

The size of your space also comes into play when choosing the right color for your living room sofa. If you have a small space a bold couch color could be a little overwhelming. For small spaces more neutral or minimalist colors like a light gray tend to work best.

4. Fabric Selection

Choosing the right fabric is crucial for both design and practicality. Arditi emphasizes the importance of selecting a fabric you love that "will never go out of fashion."

On the other hand, Brady highlights the value of durable, easy-to-clean fabrics for maintaining your sofa's appearance over time. "Always look for sofas in durable fabrics - that can be spot cleaned or are stain proof," she advises, and remember that you can always update your sofa with new fabric through a skilled upholsterer — a slipcover sofa would also allow you to update the fabric with ease.

In Most Cases, Go Neutral

Opting for a neutral colored sofa is often the best decision because neutral won't go out of fashion — which is especially important considering the significant investment a sofa represents.

"Neutrals like beige, gray, black, cream, or brown can work well in many spaces," Rizwan explains, as they can easily blend with different color schemes and styles over the years.

Lori Shaw agrees with the preference for neutral colors, stating, "A cream, gray, or brown sofa will stand the test of time for most." By selecting a neutral shade, you ensure that your sofa remains a versatile and timeless addition to your living space.

Navy Blue Sectional Sofa
Navy is often used as a neutral sofa color (credit: Sinan Tuncay)

Neutrals also allow you to be more versatile with the rest of your living room color choices. Erika Lee, a self-proclaimed "big color girl," also prefers neutral upholstered pieces. She refers to this approach to interior design as 'vanilla decor.' "That way, I can change out pillows, rugs, accessories, and window treatments when my colors change without having to invest in another sofa," adds Lee

Isabel Gomez echoes the sentiment that neutral shades are timeless and versatile. She recommends colors like beige, gray, and taupe, which "can be paired with almost any home decor style." Gomez also suggests considering classic colors such as navy blue sofa or gray sofa.

Cream Sofa
This neutral sofa features accente pillows and a throw (credit: Innvovatus Design)

‍When is it Okay to Go Bold?

While neutral sofas are a safe and timeless choice, a bold colored sofa can be an exciting and eye-catching addition to your room, and there are instances when going bold with your sofa color can be the right choice. Here's what our expert designers said on when and how to incorporate a bold sofa into your home.

1. Following Your Instincts

Rozit Arditi encourages embracing color when you feel called to do so. "We loved pairing a green sectional with a mauve grasscloth in our Brooklyn family room," she shares. If you're comfortable pushing boundaries and having fun with color, then there's no reason not to embrace it.

Green Sofa
Rozit Arditi paired this green sofa with mauve grasscloth (credit: Claire Esparros)

2. Creating a Statement in Larger Spaces

Bold sofa colors can work well for creating a statement or adding a pop of color. However, Rasha Rizwan cautions that maintaining balance is essential by keeping other accessories and furniture neutral. Rizwan also suggests that bold sofas work better as statement pieces in larger spaces, as they can make a small living room feel tight and cramped.

3. Choosing a Color that Uplifts You

Maxine Brady believes a colorful sofa can be a talking point in your room. "Choose a color that uplifts you or makes you smile," she recommends. For those who love a maximalist look, Brady suggests considering a patterned sofa in a bold print for extra impact.

Heather Mastrangeli encourages going bold with your sofa color if your interior design style is eclectic, full of patterns, or you want to inject some color into a neutral home. The important thing, she says, is "to choose a color that you'll never tire of looking at."

4. Adding Visual Interest to Neutral Walls

Isabel Gomez says that if you’ve chosen neutral paint colors for your walls, you can choose a bolder sofa color to add visual interest to the space. She also agrees that balancing bold sofa colors with neutral or complementary colors in the room is essential to avoid overwhelming the space.

Incorporate Trending Colors Through Accessories

If you're unsure about choosing a statement sofa as your living room focal point but still want to include some brighter colors in your space Rasha Rizwan highlights the value of bringing in trending colors and patterns through accessories like throw pillows or blankets, which can be easily replaced throughout the years. "If you choose neutral colors, you can create interest by adding textures through the materials such as boucle or velvet," adds Rizwan.

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‍Sofa Colors to Avoid

While personal preferences and design styles may vary, certain sofa colors may not be the best choice for most living spaces.

Erika Lee advises against choosing colors that only match one specific type of decor. That way, the sofa won't clash with the rest of the room if you ever decide to change things up," she explains.

Rasha Rizwan suggests avoiding lighter colors if you have an active family with kids or pets. "It's safer to go with a darker sofa to hide away the stains," says Rizwan.

Rizwan also points out that certain colors may fade more quickly when exposed to sunlight. So if your room is filled with natural light that your sofa will be exposed to all day, it's best to choose lighter colors instead of darker ones, as they are more resistant to fading.

Regarding specific colors to stay away from, Heather Mastrangeli recommends you "avoid red, yellow, or pink sofas in your home." These colors can be particularly challenging to create a cohesive and well-put-together look.

Meet the Experts

At Living Cozy, we produce our content alongside interior design and home decor experts. In this guide, you’ll advice from:

Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
Ash Read
Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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