From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

The Best Living Room Color Schemes for a Sophisticated Look

If it’s time for an elegance spruce, you’ve come to the right place.

Back to the Future


Back to the Future

Luxury watches embrace ’70s nostalgia and space-age glam.

Remixing Poland’s Past


Remixing Poland’s Past

With sleek contemporary designs, Krakow’s Paradowski Studio nods to history.

Peter Marino, the Architect King of Fifth Avenue


Peter Marino, the Architect King of Fifth Avenue

Saving humanity’s live retail experience from the cold metaverse — one dazzling...

There’s nothing like traveling somewhere new and exciting, only to return home feeling refreshed and ready to liven up things at home. We spend so much time in our living rooms—maybe it’s your favorite spot to spread out on the couch after a long day of work, or it’s the place where you do your work, or maybe it’s the room where family gathers the most. Either way, it probably deserves some extra love and care—and we’re here to supply you with interior home design ideas about the best living room color schemes for a sophisticated look. Whether you tend toward traditional decor, modern, or a healthy mix of both, there are plenty of ways (and many involve just minor adjustments) to give your living room a sophisticated makeover that will leave you wanting to spend all your time there.

An adventurous way to look for inspiration when it comes to home decor is by checking out rooms and lobbies at boutique and luxury hotels—and it’s a good excuse to plan a trip! Some of our favorites emulate that vibe of luxury and sophistication, like Heckfield Place in Hampshire, full of cozy off-white rooms with neutral, earth-toned furniture and ample natural light. Or perhaps you’ll like Habitas in Tulum, which is all high-paned glass windows, shiny, black accents and bold, woven rugs. If you prefer more traditional decor, 41 Hotel behind Buckingham Palace in London fittingly boasts gorgeous, stately accommodations in a black and white theme with mahogany accents (and be sure to look at those tiled floors)—it’s truly the epitome of sophistication.

Sophisticated Color Schemes

So, when it comes down to selecting a color scheme for your living room, start at the room’s bones—what is the architecture like? Is there sufficient natural light, large windows, small windows? Is there an opportunity to add accents around doors, on window trims, wall paneling, art frames etc.? Are there built-in features like a window seat? Is there a piece of furniture already there that really stands out or pulls the room together?

In general, a gray living room scheme will yield a muted, soft vibe that allows you to play around a little more with accents, in the form of furniture, trim, and centerpieces.

A classic option is to go simple: black and white, or navy and white. Within this scheme, the darker colors should just be subtle accents, so begin with white or off-white walls, and use either navy, black, or gold accents around trims, picture frames, or on a central piece of furniture for a clean-cut look with bold touches. The Ritz in Paris is a perfect example of how mostly white with some navy and gold accents can yield a classic, old world sophistication.

If you’re hoping for something airy and fresh, opt for a monochromatic white scheme, accented by either more white (marble is always a nice touch), or by neutral hues that provide a clean, crisp look. This can significantly brighten up a room and deliver the elegance and sophistication you may be in search of.


Typically, when trying to create a sophisticated scheme in a living room, less is more. Think about specific pieces of furniture, like a couch or end table, that you want to highlight, and make sure the accent colors you’re choosing will match that piece. For example, an opulent fabric like green velvet on a couch will draw the eye there, so surround that piece with neutral, cream, or black tones.

If you feel a space is small and you’re hoping to open it up, use light colors like white, off-white, or lighter shades of grey to create an airiness—and don’t forget the power of using mirrors to create the illusion of more space! Try situating a long mirror directly across from a window so that it reflects the natural light back out into the room.

Book with American Express Travel to receive your complimentary Fine Hotels & Resorts® benefits. Terms Apply.


Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.