Designing Dark Painted Spaces

Despite the overly circulated rumors that darker hues make a space feel deceptively small, there are indeed best “plans of attack” when daring to go dark. You, too, can add some interest to your home with more pigmented palettes and I’m here to help. For a quick guide to designing dark painted spaces read on!

First, dare to go dark. Dark colors can help make a lofty room feel more intimate and a small room inescapably cozy. For example, it’s often easy to feel lost in a great room that boasts sky-high ceilings and windows. Including darker paint in your design plan can help to add a little homeliness to an otherwise overwhelming space. Dark colors advance into a room, making it feel cozier. In contrast, to add a little luxe to a smallish space like a study or sitting room, consider a more saturated shade. Darker paint can colors bring a certain richness to these compact spaces.

 {The London Clay feature wall helps to create a cozy atmosphere in this open and spacious living-dining room. From:  Farrow & Ball .}

{The London Clay feature wall helps to create a cozy atmosphere in this open and spacious living-dining room. From: Farrow & Ball.}

 {The ornate, dark walls in this home office envelope this swanky home office in warmth. From:  Arhaus .}

{The ornate, dark walls in this home office envelope this swanky home office in warmth. From: Arhaus.}

Next, sample your selection. Before committing to a specific color, sample it within the space it will be used. What initially appears to be the perfect color match to your duvet’s pattern or accent pillow’s print may look very different once on the walls and no longer under a store’s fluorescent lights. So by doing this bit of homework, you’re making 100% sure that what you’ve fallen in love with at first sight isn’t a tad washed out or truly too dark. I suggest using a letter-sized color sheet to tape on your wall or better yet, buy a tester of your desired shade.

Keep contrast in mind. High color contrast between large pieces and dark walls tend to make your space feel smaller. Because the contrast can emphasize the room’s size, it can visually break up the room rather than elongate it. Consider this, if you paint your room dark blue and pair it with a sofa of a similar shade the design plan will “blend.” The monotone palette helps to open up the space rather than create any visual breaks. If you are opting for a dark color, just keep the contrast of large pieces (i.e. sofas and curtains) down and you will expand the room.

 {This teal Monroe mid-century style sofa pairs oh-so-well with the jewel-toned wall just behind. From  West Elm .}

{This teal Monroe mid-century style sofa pairs oh-so-well with the jewel-toned wall just behind. From West Elm.}

 {The monochromatic palette allows the colorful accents to really shine! From:  West Elm .}

{The monochromatic palette allows the colorful accents to really shine! From: West Elm.}

Edit your accessories. When coordinating with dark walls, sometimes less is more as far as accessories go. Just like when applying makeup, a bold lip paired with an overly smokey eye can go from classy to clownish if not done right. Pick one or the other, both are not always necessary. Choose a few pieces to highlight the room’s palette and play up neutrals in your remaining finishing touches. Metallics and mirrored pieces not only add a different finish and texture, but they also help to reflect light. One large area rug, a pair of accent pillows or a cluster of wall prints are great ways to simply introduce additional colors with going overboard.

 {The metallic bed frame brightens the space by reflecting light and adds a chic, sophisticated vibe, too – perfect for sweet dreams. From:  Horchow .}

{The metallic bed frame brightens the space by reflecting light and adds a chic, sophisticated vibe, too – perfect for sweet dreams. From: Horchow.}

 {This bathroom is certainly not lacking in color or character. From:  Farrow & Ball .}

{This bathroom is certainly not lacking in color or character. From: Farrow & Ball.}

I hope that after perusing this post you won’t be so quick to write off dark colors. With a little pre-planning and perhaps a professional eye, you too can incorporate heavier hues into your design plan. The best part of a project like this, it is after all, just paint; you can always grab a brush and start over. Go ahead, I dare you to dabble with dark paint!

April Pardoe