Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

As a designer, when you propose painting a room a dark color you often see real fear in the eyes of your client.  You’ll often hear “Won’t it make the room look smaller?,” “Won’t it be depressing?,” “Won’t it be too severe”?  The answer to all the above questions is “no” as long as you keep a few things in mind.

If painting your walls a dark color seems way too out of your comfort zone start with lesser-used spaces in your home like a guest bedroom or more transitional spaces like hallways and foyers.  Powder rooms are also a great place to dip your toes into the dark-walled pond.

photo :: Metropolitan Home

Dark colored walls work best when there is a lot of natural light available. If an abundance of natural light isn’t available, make sure you have plentiful (and good) lighting in the room.  “Good” meaning not just overhead lighting! No, no, no, no.

If you do use a dark colored paint on the walls of a small room you should include some light-catching materials like mirrors, mirrored furniture and metallics.  And again, don’t forget the lighting.

Painting walls a warm dark color (like a warm grey, deep brown or navy blue) can trick the eye into thinking the room is bigger than it is as the eye can’t see where the wall begins and ends.  Dark rooms make the walls seem like they are receding whereas cooler colored dark paint will serve to draw the walls in closer, creating a cozier feel.  Painting a room in a dark color in a room with windows only on one wall will frame and showcase the view.

Dark-colored walls can act as neutral backdrops -- choose an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories that are noticeably lighter or darker than the walls.  Placing light colored furniture room can give the space an air of lightness.

photo :: Elle Decor

In order to keep a dark-walled room from falling flat you should bring in a diverse selection of textured accessories similar in color to the walls and add pops of color to really catch the eye.

White trim and/or accents are also a good call when you want to accentuate the dark walls of a room.

design :: fernando diaz, metropolitan home, oct 2007

photo :: Domino Magazine

Opinions differ on whether you should paint the ceiling white or not.  Some designers feel that white makes the ceiling seem lower, while others feel like it lifts the ceiling up.  It really is dependent on the space.  You can also mix the wall color with white in differing percentages to make a smoother transition.

photo :: elle decor

If you follow the suggestions above you shouldn't be afraid of the dark anymore; so put away those night lights and get painting!