5 Olive Green Living Room Ideas That Will Inspire You to Introduce This On-Trend Color to Your Scheme

The earthy shade is considered a neutral by most designers, meaning there is a way to embrace it no matter your stance on color

(Image credit: Lucy Call. Design: Studio McGee)

Many designers adopt olive green as a neutral color in their schemes. Derived straight from nature, it has a soothing, earth-like quality, and depending on the specific shade you choose to work with, can either ground a space or enliven it.

Olive is the perfect shade to go with if you’re leaning towards a green living room. ‘It’s so deep and rich and luxurious,’ says interior designer Bethany Adams of Kentucky-based Bethany Adams Interiors. ‘You can’t help but feel relaxed and cozy in a room painted olive green, which makes it the perfect shade for a lounge or den.’

And while, personally, I love the idea of a space drenched in the shade, I don’t want the minimalists out there — or midimalists who sit somewhere just below the realms of maximalism — to turn away just yet. There are ways to embrace this shade in varying degrees, but all to stunning effect, and these five olive green living room ideas will show you exactly how, from small touches to bold statements.

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE WITH A SOFA

living room with dark green sofa and white armchairs

(Image credit: Thomas Kuoh. Design: Kriste Michelini Interiors)

For those who prefer to decorate with neutrals and steer clear of using too much color in their living spaces, including a touch of olive green doesn't have to be dramatic. This serene scheme by Kriste Michelini Interiors shows how the simple addition of an olive green sofa works to anchor the space without disrupting it.

The tones of this living room sofa complement the dark timber coffee table, and help to make other natural elements in the space, including the fresh foliage and view to greenery outside, sing. Without the warm contrast, this space could risk coming across as a bit flat.

If an olive green sofa is out of the question, you could achieve a similar effect with an olive green rug, curtains or even something as simple as the color of your throw pillows.

2. ADD OLIVE GREEN WALLPAPER OR CURTAINS

living room with yellow ottoman, blue couch, and blue and green patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis. Design: Isy Runsewe)

If you're feeling a little bit bolder, why not consider a living room wallpaper in an earthy, olive green shade? Bonus points if you match it other decorative elements in the space, like your curtains.

While a solid grasscloth would be one way to introduce even more of an earthy texture and grounding feel, you could also opt for something a little bit more playful like a patterned print, as seen in this living room.

The botanical-inspired style picked by Isabel Runsewe, creative director of New York-based interior design studio Isy's Interiors, perfectly pulls this space together. The tones of the wallpaper have a jewel-like quality, and tie together the navy cabinetry and sofa with the curtains and mustard yellow ottoman, helping the space feel cohesive, balanced and not too overwhelming.

3. COLOR DRENCH YOUR SPACE

traditional style living room with olive green walls

(Image credit: Lucy Call. Design: Studio McGee)

For those prepared to go all-in on an olive green living room, painting your ceilings and walls the same color in a treatment known as color-drenching is a surefire way to create a cocooning and enveloping space you'll want to retreat to.

Shea McGee, chief creative officer at Studio McGee, chose to cover this room with 'Otter' by Segreto Finishes. 'Instead of doing grasscloth like in the adjacent dining room, I did a beautiful millwork treatment and color-matched the walls to tie the spaces together in tone but not texture,' she explains. 'I love the color-drenched trend, where the drapes, the walls, and the ceiling all match. I really wanted this room to feel dramatic, so it was the perfect place to go bold with color.'

4. ACCENTUATE DETAILS WITH DIFFERENT PAINT FINISHES

view from living room with olive green walls to dining room with decorative wallpaper

(Image credit: Abigail Jackson. Design: CAROLYNLEONA)

While doing away with cutting in and getting to cover every surface in one paint finish is definitely a benefit of color drenching, you can still use different paint finishes — all in the same shade — to cleverly play with light and accentuate architectural details.

In this living room, Liz Goldberg, founder and creative director of CAROLYNLEONA, specified Sherwin Williams' 'Pewter Green' for everything. But, the walls were done in an eggshell finish, the ceiling in a flat finish, and the trim in a satin finish.

'We felt the deep olive green paint added sophistication and highlighted the home's architectural trim details while pairing back to the William Morris wallpaper in the dining room,' she explains. 'Our goal was to create a blend of old-meets-new in an updated, unexpected way.'

5. BALANCE WITH THE RIGHT WOOD

a green living room with a shelf

(Image credit: Fabian Martinez (@fabianmml). Design: Chloé Mason Gray)

If you're already drawn to timber tones, then embracing olive green in your living spaces will be a natural next step. Pulling directly from the colors and textures found outside, rooms filled with layered woods and saturated olive greens balance each other in perfect harmony.

'I think red cedar pairs beautifully with the green tones in the house,' says interior designer Chloé Mason Gray of this color drenched home in Mexico. 'In Mexican spaces you tend to see a lot of either very pale wood, tzalam, or walnut, and I liked the idea of using a medium red-toned wood instead.'

6. GO BOLD WITH COLOR COMBINATIONS

A living room with green decor including a floor lamp and glass bowl

(Image credit: Pablo Viega. Design: Carter Williamson Architects)

Considering we're calling olive green a neutral now, there's no reason it has to be the only color your embrace in your living room scheme. There are plenty of colors that go with olive green, whether tonally or with bold contrast.

'We're used to seeing shades of green like olive used alongside neutrals for grounding, peaceful schemes, but don't forget it works just as well in a more flamboyant combination,' says Livingetc's editor, Hugh Metcalf. 'One of the biggest color trends we've been spotting this year is based on a 1970s influence, so mixing olive greens with retro purples, oranges and even reds is a way to channel the look and give your space some drama.'

7. INTRODUCE IN THE ACCESSORIES

tapestry in contemporary living room

(Image credit: Heather Hilliard)

Another way to dress an olive green living room without have to make too much of a commitment is through your choice of art, and in this case, verdure tapestries tick all the boxes.

While these wall hangings are by no means a new trend — with a heritage dating back to the 15th century — they've definitely come back en vogue as of late, and in particular, the verdure style that denotes lush, foliage-rich scenes.

While actual antiques tend to carry a certain yellowing patina (hello, olive green), a lot of modern styles are purposefully finished in this more green-brown palette to make new look old, and therefore, are the perfect piece for an olive green living room palette.

While the serene scheme by San Francisco-based Heather Hilliard Design shows a tapestry hung in an otherwise neutral living room, you can just imagine how easily it could be layered with an olive green sofa, rug or even paint shade on the wall.


Is olive green good for a living room?

In my humble opinion, olive green is a choice color for a living room scheme. It doesn't skew either feminine or masculine, and it's not a shade that you're likely to get sick of, or one that will ever go out of style.

Interior designers have repeatedly told me that they consider the hue to be a neutral shade, and that no matter the level of saturation it's used in a space — whether that's a dominant role or simply through the choice of decor — it helps to ground it, creating comfortable and comforting spaces.

Plus, it seems these days people are constantly chasing that indoor-outdoor feeling in their homes, so how can you go wrong with bringing the color of the trees into your living room?

What color sofa goes with olive green walls?

For this question, you really just need to think about all the colors that go with olive green. And the good news? As a 'neutral', there are plenty of them. From dusty pink, to other shades of green, and classic neutrals including white and beige, olive green acts as a beautiful base for a wide spectrum of colors.

Depending on the look you're going for, you might want sofa color that either complement or contrast with your olive green walls. For example, in a color drenched olive green living room, a sofa in a similar tone would look best.

If you're wanting to make the olive green walls an accent in the space, you might instead opt to have a sofa color that stands out against them — perhaps a cream sofa, a striking burnt orange or even a patterned style.

Emma Breislin
Interiors Editor

Emma is Livingetc's Interiors Editor. She formerly worked on Homes To Love, one of Australia's leading interiors websites, where she wrote for some of the country's top titles including Australian House & Garden and Belle magazine. Before that she was the Content Producer for luxury linen brand, CULTIVER, where she nurtured a true appreciation for filling your home with high-quality and beautiful things. Outside of work hours, Emma can often be found elbow-deep at an antique store, moving her sofa for the 70th time or mentally renovating every room she walks into. Having just moved to London, she's currently starting from scratch when it comes to styling her home, which, while to many may sound daunting, to her, is invigorating.