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Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile

By 04/02/2016December 11th, 202053 Comments

Colour is always more timeless than the current trendy neutral. So, when shopping for a new sofa, choose a colour instead of the neutral of the day (whether it’s grey, charcoal, black or white). A colourful sofa is as timeless as subway tile. Here’s why.

A colourful sofa is timeless.

How often does your sofa get replaced? If the quality is good and no one sits on it, it could sit in your living room for 25 years, but most of us expect our well-used sofa to last up to 10 years.

So I’m here to tell you to choose a colour INSTEAD of grey or charcoal (or brown or black… whatever the trendy neutral is). And if you already have a grey one, well there are many ways to bring a charcoal sofa to life so not to worry.

If you are considering grey and haven’t bought one yet, notice that you’re probably not looking at brown right now because that trend has passed. And there are a lot of brown sofas out there because it was considered a ‘safe choice’ during the Tuscan brown trend and now the ‘safe choice’ has moved to grey or charcoal.

Read more: Should you buy a black sofa? and Is cognac leather a timeless sofa choice?

Choose a colour for your sofa, instead of grey.

I’m just suggesting that perhaps it’s time to go for a colour the next time you show for a new sofa. Here are some lovely examples.

I love this shade of periwinkle blue. How could you not love this sofa for a very long time?

blue sofa colour

House & Garden Magazine UK

This room (below) is designed by Samantha Pynn, one of my favourite Canadian designers. But how old is it?

It’s hard to tell because the colours are still fresh but I know this room has been around for almost 10 years and was decorated during the brown trend. You wouldn’t know that though because there is no brown here. Colour is way more timeless.

Lime green sofa colour

Interior Design by Samantha Pynn

When did I decorate this living room (below)? Usually, if a room was decorated in the brown trend the dead giveaway would be brown in the upholstery but it’s not here, so it lives, still today in 2016. This room was actually completed in 2009 (at the end of the brown trend here in the West Coast).

Colourful Sofa Green Interior Design

Interior Design by Maria Killam

Choose Colourful Sofa

 Maria Killam

Turquoise became trendy again in 2002 with the brown trend. I distinctly remember this date because until then, everyone was buying sage green sofas. It’s now 15 years later and this colour is still going strong. Robert Allen had lots of new colourful books with turquoise.

Turquoise Sofa

Emily Henderson

Is navy blue the new gray? Only time will tell but it’s certainly a versatile and very classic colour choice.

Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile | Maria Killam

House Beautiful 

Does red ever go out of style? I can’t remember if it ever has? Burgundy, yes. Red, not so much.

Love mid century style? Check out this Chic Mid Century Modern Home I styled.

Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile | Maria Killam

Design Within Reach

Is pink too feminine? Not when it’s part of a room decorated like this.

Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile | Maria Killam

Via pinterest

This living room with a lovely pale blue sofa is ageless… 

Light Blue Sofa

Living room

Just like this white bathroom with subway tile and a pale blue vanity, these rooms both will outlast the grey trend, which is why I wrote this post about how the grey trend is out a year ago.

And because so many homes embraced this neutral grey colour trend, here’s another post that may help you: What if I don’t like the grey flooring that’s everywhere?

Timeless Subway Tile Bathroom


Together, a colourful sofa and a white subway tile bathroom are classic and timeless interior styles you won’t regret in a few short years. 

Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile | Maria Killam

I hope you’re inspired to consider a colour next time you go sofa shopping! If you need help choosing a sofa colour or creating a classic bathroom design – I’ve got eDesign packages for you! 

In April, I led my Specify Colour with Confidence™ event in Charlotte to a fabulous new group of True Colour Experts and then I was at High Point Market to tour around and write my 2017 trends report.

How long are you going to wait until you’re really good at colour?

Learning design takes a long time, where can you go and take a giant leap forward in pulling a room together either with hard finishes or soft finishes? That takes years and years of experience.

Getting proficient in colour also takes years unless you do my 3 day event where I’ll share all my insider secrets that took me 20,000 hours to learn including the business of colour. What to charge, how to sell your new skills, how to build your brand.

I recently received this email from Julie Kay who was in my Chicago course last Spring:

I am excited to say once again how much it meant to me take your class in Chicago.  It has changed my life and my confidence level.  I have just received an opportunity to fly to Arizona to help with a new build from where I live in Michigan.  I know this couple and by just briefly sharing my knowledge with them over lunch they asked me to consult with their project.  So excited! 

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

4 Ways to Decorate around a Charcoal Sofa

Which Colour Sofa Should you Buy?

The Best Backsplash Tile for your Kitchen


1207 pins


  • TLM says:

    How do you know what colour will stick around? I have a burgandy leather couch and looks like that colour is out. I just can’t seem to get it right. Sigh!!!

    • Bert says:

      If you like it, what does it matter?

    • Liz Franklin says:

      burgandy is classic and still works…. it’s all in how you use it 🙂

      i’d go with an unexpected color scheme: maybe pastels like soft pink with some coral and yellow thrown in. stay away from forest green or old gold.

      • Rebecca says:

        The key is you have to really like the color – then the choice will last. If it is the pick of someone other than yourself most likely it will not last for you. I have had a blue sofa for at least 8 years. It is one of the shades of blue I really
        like. I can not see me ever tiring of the color. I am as pleased with the purchase today as I was the day I bought it. If you do not really like the color it will not past the test of time.

  • Tara says:

    Navy is my “signature color” and my current we-have-3-kids-5-and-under interim couch is navy. I love it so much and can’t wait to do it again! It has worked with all my decorating whims perfectly!

  • jax says:

    So Maria, since we both have yellow sofas can I assume that I am still on trend and how long do you think that trend will last? I purchased the sofa when the all white linen was the rage and had a custom Christopher Norman silk put on it. I struggled forever over the decision until I saw yours and said “yes”, I can do this!!!

  • Linda Erlam says:

    If you choose a classic shape, colour is a non-issue because you can have a slipcover made and change the colour. I’m not talking about Shabby Chic, or your grandmother’s slipcover, but a ‘Fit Like A Glove’ one that looks like upholstery. I know they exist because I make them. If they don’t look like upholstery, I haven’t done my job..
    I have a tomato red sofa that has been a bronze tweed and is now a beige canvas and before summer is over, it just might be fuschia linen!!

  • Julia says:

    Thank you Maria for this post. Very inspirational! It made me change my mind to think in colors, not neutrals. I noticed all these sofa colors are quite clean or pure, not muted at all! Is this also important?

  • Joanne says:

    Oh, to be so brave.

  • Cindi says:

    I am sold! Bought my first colored sofa (blue) a few months ago. I hardly spent anything on it, because I still wasn’t sure… but fortunately it is very comfortable too, and I love it.

  • Debbie says:

    Had a blue couch and grew very tired of it. Whether a trendy color or not I never get bored with a neutral. I just add color with smaller accessories that are much less expensive to change. But then I am not one to worry if I am on trend. I choose what I love.

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Till I die I will always have a white denim slip-covered couch. Knowing I can pull it off & wash it whenever I want helps me sleep at night.
    Sure…I could have gone with a blue denim, but the white just brightens up my dark home.

  • Nichole says:

    I have a red (blue red) couch and a blue (green/gray/blue) couch in the same room. Both contrast trimmed in the same dark blue velvet. This is my second red couch in 15 years.

  • Liz says:

    I commented above that we don’t need to care about trends if we love a color. Although Maria discusses trends, for me her main message is to pick colors you love, that make you happy and that you want to live with. I live with red and touches of yellow, orange, turquoise and purple on a background of white. If my chosen colors go out of style, so what? No one is grading my home! 🙂 But I do think a trendy neutral like brown or gray is going to look out-dated sooner than a color, if you care. I thought my copper tone fridge would NEVER die!

  • Kris says:

    I love my coral moire sofa, in gray Seattle it’s happy. Also have coral and ochre damask club chairs, really makes the living room cheerful

  • Cynthia says:

    Regarding the “navy blue” reference. One of the above sofas looks on my computer to be “royal blue.” Is it just my computer monitor?

  • Rory says:

    Ditto the white denim slipcovered sofa! I love mine!

  • Dolores says:

    A few years ago,I had a salmon jacquard fabric slipcover sewn for my 20 yr old Baker sofa- I love both my ultra comfy sofa and the slipcover..For my husband’s study, I had a navy velvet slipcover sewn for the convertible sofa- and it looks wonderful, never wrinkles nor does it show any spots.

  • jana says:

    Still loving my aubergine sofa.

  • Laura says:

    Man, I sure do wish brown would come back -maybe in moderation. I love a brown chesterfield and brown leather Queen Annes against walnut wainscotting and Ralph Lauren plaids. To me, that’s timeless.

    • EM says:

      Me too, Laura. It’s not the so-called “on trend” look right now, but the look you describe is indeed a classic look.

  • Mid America Mom says:

    Lovely! I like sofas to be a solid (and lean toward a color). One sofa ago was a two seater in deep purple velvet that I bought just to stage the house for sale. I loved the color but not the upkeep and no one was even on it! Every piece of lint, dust, hair showed. Our current is a slipped covered red/blue twill and great for a family with pets. I like to play with style, color and prints when it comes to chairs. I am a thrift/estate/used chair addict so that means cheap! I get them and usually move on within a year or two. In the last three years- Multi colored paisley with slope arm, pair of leopard print gold bergeres, and this week I purchased an english roll arm club chair in a light blue print (yep light blue with a blue red- I am breaking out of comfort zone with this one). My husband wants the dreaded recliner instead of the mission with leather chair that we have (before that a boring oversized casual chair in beige tweed). *Whomever invented the recliner should go down in decorating history as a traitor! Most of these things are too big, too far forward from everything, and mostly hideous.* Thanks for posting – it is nice to get away from our kitchen remodel (last minute countertop change is causing grief!).

  • Joanna says:

    Lazyboy has a variety of styles in recliners. They don’t need to be those fat, ugly ones of old. Let your husband have his comfort while you get style. Disclaimer: I don’t work for Lazyboy Furniture. Lol

  • Linda Fitzgerald says:

    You are right on track Maria.. I believe ‘NAVY IS the new neutral’ It pairs so well with everything.

  • Linda Fitzgerald says:

    I have been coveting an English Roll Arm sofa for years. It’s on my bucket list of things to have. I’d be over the moon to have an original George Sherlock (UK) or a William Birch, but alas no budget for such things. I want the 2 or 3 seater in coral linen. Yup. I read the editorial by Suzanne Dimma (House and Home) a while ago and she was talking about how someone GAVE her theirs when they redecorated. Where’s my bit o’ luck like that? Anyone?

  • Jennifer Johnson says:

    Maria, this is one of my favorite posts of yours!

  • Liz Franklin says:

    i so agree! i have an apple green sofa that has been in three different homes in 18 years, all with different color schemes and styles. i’ve been suggesting to clients for 15 years to choose their favorite color. i ask “do you choose to wear brown all week?” “is grey your go-to outfit?” even better than a colorful sofa is a patterned sofa!!!

  • Susan says:

    I agree very much with this idea and your lovely examples certainly back up your opinion. I covered our traditional dining chairs with a lime like that of picture #2 and it continues to work after 5 years–no matter what scheme we “throw” at it. It probably helps that the color was pulled from a classic, vintage rug that is a “forever” piece. The same sensational rug inspired all of our decor choices in the common spaces: Best investment ever! Here is where I depart from your good advice: I prefer to envelope spaces in color and our relatively neutral “large pieces” (couches) allow a bit more freedom. I can recover chair seats, change out throw pillows, accessories, & repaint walls with more ease that I can recover an antique couch 😉 I do enjoy our wing chairs with their unexpected pop of plum!

  • Gretchen says:

    Thank you Maria! I am going to purchase the Atwood sofa in Ocean, a beautiful subtle blue-green that both my husband and I love. You helped me decide.

  • BillP says:

    I have had white or off-white sofas my entire adult life (with dogs!) and put them in the same category as white subway tile. I consider them fixed elements and am able to change everything around them. The above sofas I would tire of.

  • I agree- colorful sofas are fun! I bought chartreuse/limey green sofa and chair 10 years ago from Scandinavian Design in Denver. It’s made the move to the 4 different houses I’ve lived in since then and I’ve loved it in every place (except for a family room that had bright coral stone tile around the fireplace, that didn’t work at all and drove me nuts! 😉 It’s on it’s last leg because of pets and kids and husband, so I’m deciding on what color I want to do next. Probably something a little more primary, as the chartreuse is a little muddy compared to the primary colors I like to decorate with. Didn’t have the Maria training I had 10 years ago when I bought it! xoxo-Jill

  • Julie says:

    I went nuts for the grey trend in my newly finished basement, and thought I would be getting a charcoal couch. Having now lived with the space for a while and from reading you, I have decided we definitely need a colourful couch down there (currently living with an old blue couch, dreaming of eggplant purple…).
    On the other hand, I’m happy with the warm medium brown leather we chose for our living room couch. It works with the original wood trim and fireplace, and I can change up the colour scheme with accent pillows etc. I’m grateful my husband didn’t let me get the “expresso” colour I thought was necessary at the time! His choice was perfect for the permanent featured we love about the home, rather than generic or trendy.

  • Debra says:

    Fun conversation!

    I was never a fan of gray, but I’ll admit now I seem more drawn to rooms with touches of grey.

    My entire home is cream colored and we have wood floors. (French Canvas with Swiss coffee trim) For me, it is perfect! Big fan of the Scandi style. I would never expect others to pick the same thing. Think of how boring it would be if everyone was the same?

    Great subject Maria…love it!

  • Carol says:

    To Mid America Mom. Im with you on the big ugly
    recliner but you might want to check out the brand…Hooker…..line of recliners. They have
    some that look like club chairs. Not at all like
    regular recliners but are very very comfortable!!!!

    • Mid America Mom says:

      Some very traditional looking chairs there and they happen to be one of my favorite brands!

  • sharon says:

    We actually bought a brown sofa just last year lol. Its not one of those heavy dark pieces, and it works really well with our rustic cottage style. I don’t really care if the “brown trend” ship sailed years ago, we went with what looks best & feels right in our home. But, I surely would not want all brown furniture.

  • Mid America Mom says:

    I personally like Navy over Black but black is the “dark neutral” – it seems to go with everything!

  • tammy says:

    I’m picking out a blue velvet for a new Baker couch and this article hits my in-box. Surprisingly, it can be very hard to find the right blue that doesn’t turn greenish in certain light, artificial at night in particular, or just look black, rather than blue. I finally found one but it shows how getting a fabric swatch to take home is key!

  • Marilynn says:

    I love colorful sofas. But DOGS! Three of them,one black,one brown,one white… Arrrgh. So it’s the beat up brown leather sofa for us. Any other suggestions would be so helpful. I am sick of my sofa. 🙁

    • Dolores says:

      Mohair! I have three big standard poodles and two club chairs under the living room window- I KNOW that as soon as we leave, those two chairs will be occupied until we return. The chairs are done in navy blue mohair, and even after 15 yrs they still look great.You just can’t kill mohair.

  • Judy says:

    I’m not too sure if it’s the sofa that’s timeless but these rooms. They are gorgeous!

  • Ange says:

    After 25 years living with a jewel tone plaid couch-which by the way was still in great condition-we bought a solid off-white colored couch last month. Wish I had read this article before we bought our boring neutral colored couch. Great post!

  • J says:

    If you have two sofas facing each other, is it best to have them the same “color?” Or would it be better in that situation to have neutral sofas and two colorful accent chairs? Thanks.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I would go for a colour, (but you knew I would say that) and yes if you have two sofas flanking each other they should generally be identical. Hope that helps, Maria

  • Diane Kipp says:

    I adore color and love the idea that it ages well and rises above trends, but my worry is that I myself will get bored with the color and want something different, much earlier than I can justify replacing a couch, etc.

    On that topic, I’m curious as to how often other people replace couches, arm chairs, etc, especially those who don’t have unlimited financial resources 🙂

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