Decorating a lounge or living room (yes, we can probably include snugs in here as well!) can be a fun project; these are rooms for relaxing in, away from the stresses of daily life, so all sorts of decorative options are on the table to express something of the home-owner’s personality and lifestyle.
Wallpaper, feature walls, decorative paint effects and other ideas can all be put to good use to create a statement about the people who use the room and what it is used for. Is it a quiet little snug where one or two people escape to watch TV in the evening? Is it an adults-only space for entertaining? Or does it double up as a kid’s playroom?
Thinking about what the room is used for will not only provide ideas for designs, colour schemes etc, it should also give the decorator food for thought in terms of the most appropriate paint to use.
So, What is the Best Paint to use in a Living Room?
Leaving the questions of colour to one side, as that is always going to be influenced by personal taste and preferences, let’s take a look at what the most appropriate types of paint are to use in a living room, which will be determined by less subjective factors.
Best Paint for a Lounge Ceiling
Again, ignoring the question of whether you want your ceiling white, off-white or a stronger colour, what are the best types of paint for living room ceilings? Well, there are probably three choices of finish:
Light reflective paints such as vinyl silk or acrylic eggshell.
Many decorators don’t like using these paints because when the light hits them they show up every imperfection in the paintwork and the plasterwork beneath.
It can therefore make it hard to get a lovely smooth finish. Additionally, some people have encountered problems when it comes to painting over silk with additional coats further down the line.
They do have a place, particularly in smaller rooms with limited light, as they can help to “bounce” the light around and make the room feel lighter, airier and possibly even slightly larger. However, if you’re trying to create a cosy “snug”, this type of paint probably isn’t ideal, and I’d recommend matt.
Regular vinyl matt paints.
These are probably a good “standard” paint for most lounge ceilings. Being matt, they are less reflective and therefore hide imperfections in the paintwork better.
My personal favourite for white or coloured ceilings in an average room is Johnstone’s Trade Covaplus –
Opacity is spot on, particularly in colours. It’s easy to use and gives good results. You should always use a trade paint like this, and although you can pay more for a more premium product, Johnstone’s Trade Covaplus is far better than any retail paint I have used, and it’s a great emulsion for painting the ceilings and walls in a lounge.
If you have a particularly large lounge to paint, with light coming from different angles, a low-reflectivity paint will go one step further than vinyl matt when it comes to hiding imperfections on the ceiling.
These paints were designed specifically for this job and are becoming increasingly popular with decorators. The best-known product in this category is probably Tikkurila Anti-Reflex (which I love and use a lot of!).
By using a paint like this on your lounge ceiling, you will create a finish with a luxurious softness and depth. No defects such as flashing (roller marks), or picture framing (where you can see the cutting in).
Best Paint for Lounge Walls
The choice of paint for the walls in your living room is going to be determined more by how the room is used. If your lounge doubles as a kid’s playroom, then I’d recommend something hard-wearing, for example.
If it’s an adults-only entertaining space, then something like a vinyl matt would be appropriate – not as hard-wearing as the durable matts, but you can still wipe off the occasional spillage. If you want a really rich, luxurious finish and you’re confident that the risk of scuffs and stains is minimal, then there are some great options for this too.
Best Durable Matts for a Child-Friendly Lounge
If your lounge doubles as a playroom, then I’d recommend using a durable matt paint (or a durable acrylic eggshell if you want something really wipeable but slightly shiny). There’s loads of choice on the market these days:
Dulux Diamond Matt is probably one of the best known, and is widely available in a huge range of colours. Unlike most durables, it is a really “flat” matt, with no sheen to it, but it is very hard-wearing. Its biggest downside is probably the price, as it’s not cheap, but since it was reformulated recently, it is a very good paint.
Johnstone’s Trade do a range of different durable matts, depending on what sort of challenge you think your walls are most likely to face! Their Acrylic Durable Matt is ok for wiping minor spillages off, but I find that if you need to scrub it or it gets scuffed it leaves shiny patches.
Their Cleanable Matt is in my opinion a better product as it gives a nice matt finish and can be cleaned/scrubbed without going shiny….but it’s significantly more expensive. As we’re talking through the best possible paint products for a lounge, the link below takes you to Johnstone’s Trade Cleanable.
Crown Clean Extreme Stain-Resistant Extreme Scrubbable Matt is a favourite of mine – it’s a very durable product at a sensible price, you really can’t go wrong with this one!
The sheen level of Crown Clean Extreme is slightly higher that the Dulux alternative, but the finish is lovely. It seems rich and vibrant. Funnily enough, this is the paint I have on the walls in my own lounge. It’s a great quality paint at a reasonable price.
Best Vinyl Matt Paint for a Lounge
If your living room is fairly child- and pet-free, and used for entertaining, where there might be occasional spills to clear up but not much serious wear-and-tear, then a vinyl matt is probably your best option.
Vinyl matts still contain some polymer binders (the ingredients that make paints harder wearing), but not as many as durable paints do, so they’re better described as being “wipeable” rather than “scrubbable”. There is plenty of choice on the market, and you can read a great review here of some of the most popular vinyl matts around.
Best Luxury Matts for and Adults-Only Living Room/Snug
If you’re confident that your living room is an “adults only” space, and want to create a luxurious feel, there are some wonderful paints available, but some aren’t so hard-wearing of course.
Tikkurila Optiva 3 has a slightly more matt finish than Optiva 5. This product is a bit of a compromise, but in a good way – it gives a lovely flat matt finish, but has kept much (but not quite all) of the durability of Optiva 5. This paint will create a lovely soft feel to your lounge
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt is just that – a really flat matt finish that’s easy to apply, and gives a luxurious feel… but at twice the price of their vinyl matt. This is the paint you should buy for your lunge if you don’t mind spending a little bit more in return for superior quality paint.
Dulux Trade Heritage Velvet Matt – don’t be put off by the name, you don’t have to live in a historic mansion to use this paint in your living room.
The colours are inspired by different periods in British décor, but the paint itself uses the latest technology to create deep, rich colours and a surface that is soft to the touch…. And it’s lovely paint to use as well!
So, there you go, that’s my take on some of the best living room paints around. There are masses of choice on the market (almost too much!). Think about how the room is going to be used, and how much wear-and-tear it will be subjected to and choose a paint accordingly to ensure your new look will last! All the paints mentioned above can be matched into any colour from another brand when buying online (a lot of my clients stick with Farrow and Ball colours).
The only other thing to mention quickly is the best paint for the woodwork in a lounge. Go for Either Johnstone’s Aqua Guard, or Benjamin Moore Scuff X (thank me later).
Best Living Room Paints for For Decorators Forum UK
Robin Gofton –Wokingham Decorating Services
Projects Carried Out by Other Decorators
We used Dulux Supermatt on the ceiling in this lounge, because it it’s a big room and we needed a low sheen emulsion to avoid showing defects.
Crown Clean Extreme was used on the walls, and the colour is called Eating Room Red. Strong colours like this have a tendency to scuff easily, which is why we used a durable emulsion. Clean Extreme is full bodied and leaves a great finish. My clients were made up.
We used Tikkurila Anti-Reflex on the ceiling in this room, which is the best ceiling paint for any room in my opinion. It always looks good and shows no defects at all.
We used Crown Clean Extreme for the walls. The customer doesn’t let any pets into her lounge, and they don’t have any children, but they still wanted something durable. That way they know their lounge will still looking clean and fresh for many years to come.
We used Dulux oil-based satinwood on the woodwork.
Tikkurila Anti-Reflex was used on the ceiling in this lounge / snug. This is because the ceilings are a major feature of the room, and there is loads of natural light. We needed something that would look crisp and flawless. If we’d used any old matt, then they wouldn’t have had the same affect.
Tikkurila optiva 5 was used on the walls, simply because it’s durable and the colour won’t fade with the sun.
Johnstone’s Aqua uc/Aqua Guard was used on the woodwork.
The walls in this lounge were previously papered, so we stripped, prepped, and then lined with Wallrock.
The ceiling was finished in MacPherson Eclipse, which is a low-sheen contract matt.
The walls were finished in Crown Clean Extreme in a custom colour.
Woodwork finished in FastFlow Satin.