10 Tips For Painting Walls With Dark Colours
It seems everyone is doing it. The brave ones that is. Those blessed with 'The Vision'. Those well-educated in home styling. They're all painting walls with dark colours.
For those looking to embrace the dark interior trend, here's some first-hand advice, direct from someone who went from 'the only way is white', to fully embracing the dark side. Here are our 10 tips for painting walls with dark colours.
Gloss, matt or satin...a practical consideration
To start on a practical note, you may think that by painting walls with dark colours you're covering up your slightly off-camber plastering job, hiding any would-be dirty fingerprints, or disguising your well-intended but shambolic attempt at picture-hanging. Think again. Dark walls will show imperfections just as much, if not worse than, white.
The trick here is to choose your paint type wisely: Gloss has the highest shine and will reflect most light, so if you’re concerned about natural light this could be a better option. However, its high reflective properties also mean that unless your wall's surface is as flat as a pancake, you'll see all those little imperfections, and they won’t look little! By contrast, Matte has no shine and will absorb any natural light that hits it but, on the other hand, it will help to hide those DIY blunders.
Consider an accent colour to lift
Mustard yellows, blush pinks, faded blues; colours that are bright enough to lift, but not too bright that you feel like you're living in a Jackson Pollack. Keep it muted with pastel tones that complement your chosen wall colour and, if you choose to add an accent colour, just stick to 1. Too many detract from the look you are aiming to achieve.
On a side not, greens work brilliantly, especially as you can do this easily using plants and foliage.
Alcoves, chimney breasts and other features can be a great way to add a splash of colour too. Whether you going for something bright or dark, painting around existing features can be a great way to inject a little life into a room.
Image credit: Farrow & Ball
Invest in some metallic lighting and decor
If for no other reason than that they just look stunning against dark coloured walls, don’t overlook metals when selecting an accent colour. Copper, brass, gold, chrome, or all of the above, are a match made in heaven when placed against a dark backdrop. and as with the above point, help break up the darkness!
The room will shrink, but not as much as you think
Whichever wall you paint, it will bring that wall in, especially in large spacious rooms. If you're planning on painting a small room anyway, this is less of an issue, so continue to the next point.
For those tackling a larger room it will be a shock initially, but you will get used to it. Do however consider this side-effect in your planning and consider choosing the longest wall to paint in a dark colour first, or maybe even an alcove to ease you into the change.
Size doesn’t matter - honestly!
Do you think that because you have small rooms, a dark coloured wall will only make it look and feel even smaller? But believe me, any sized room can go dark. The amount of dark bathrooms that can be found on a quick scroll through Pinterest is a testament to this fact.
You'll need to style it to suit (keep reading), but whatever the size, dark bathrooms ooze luxury, dark bedrooms feel cosy, dark hallways scream elegance and the list goes on. Whatever size, shape or function, it can and will work.
Use your existing features
Chimneys, alcoves, paneling, skirting boards, door frames, doors. Painting with dark colours doesn’t just mean painting your walls. Some great effects can be achieved by painting woodwork in darker colours whilst keeping walls neutral, or painting alcoves darker whilst retaining lighter coloured walls.
Alternatively, a light door frame against a dark wall will help break up the expanse of colour, or take it further and paint them all the same for a bold effect. Each way has its benefits and the one your go for will depend on the overall look you want to achieve.
Break it up
A particularly useful consideration if you choose to paint your longest wall a dark colour is to break it up. Just like a plain white wall, a black wall will equally need something to adorn it. Mirrors, photo wall arrangements and posters in your accent colour not only break up the space but will reduce the amount of dark wall your left with, making it feel less dark. Simple.
image credit: Patirobins (instagram)
50 shades of dark
Painting walls with dark colours doesn’t have to mean slapping black paint on the walls throwback to the days of grunge, emo kids and Ozy Osbourne. If you can make pure black walls work then snaps to you, but the reality is that for most interiors, pure black is just a bit too black. As they say, there are many shades of grey, but equally, don't disregard colours, dark emerald greens and rich Royal blues offer an anti-monochrome ode to darkness.
Create an illusion
Counteract a shrinking room using the age-old trick of mirrors. This little trick works two-fold.
First, when placed strategically, mirrors create an illusion that can double the size of the room. Famously, Elsie de Wolfe, used mirrors to great effect in After All’s garden pavilion, where a full mirror wall placed behind a seating area made the garden seem like it carried on way beyond the glass.
Secondly, mirrors reflect light, meaning that any natural daylight your room receives is instantly doubled. Picture the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, even back in the 1600s mirrors were used by designers to lighten a room. Now we're not saying go purchase 17 gigantic floor-to-ceiling mirrors, but you get the idea.
Work with what you've got
If you're not in a position to fund a whole house renovation, complete with brand new furniture, rugs, flooring and accessories, you're going to have to work with some of your existing items. I know, we all want a home straight outta' Pinterest, but be realistic on what you can change and what you're going to have to keep. This can sometimes lead to great creative effects (Google 'Ikea furniture hacks' and you'll get my drift).
Stuck with your existing dark sofa? Then try a lighter shade on the walls, or do you already have light floors? These will work great to break up a large dark wall. Have an old pine bookshelf – paint it the same colour as your wall and you’re well on your way to dark interior supremacy.
Image credit: Rockmystyle.co.uk
Add dark home accessories to complete the look
The final point is all about final touches. If you really want to complete the look, think about the smaller details too as these will really bring your style home. A dark tableware set to accompany your new dark kitchen, a new lamp for your dark hallway, or a rug to tone down the light wooden floor will all finish off your efforts.
So there you go, hopefully you're now feeling brave enough to take the plunge and join those #styleitdark Insta-ites whose nonchalant shots of beautiful dark walls make it to the top of their hashtag rankings before you can even comment with a 'Love this’ + heart-eyed emoji.
Granted, a dark interior is not a new phenomenon, but if you're reading this and reached the bottom, then I'll assume you're looking to follow the trend and create your own stunning dark room.
As a final piece of advice, always remember that if you're not happy with it, you can always paint over it!
Shop our range of home accessories below, ideal for your dark walled backdrop.
Arifur Rahman said:
Thanks for your helpful article
Great and inspiring (confidence) comments, thank you
Sarah Brady said:
These ate great tips as I did a dark grey wall .added mirrors looks fabulously coo thank you for these amazing trips
kikki felton said:
Thank you so much! Great tips to encourage people to just do it. Picking up the paint TODAY!
Ashley Bass said:
If I have a really long loft room, and want to paint one part of it dark – say the study at the end, but not the dining room or kitchen at the opposite end, what do I do with the living area in between the dark room and the lighter kitchen?