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.
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 then I'll assume you're looking to follow the trend and longing to create your own Instagram worthy dark room. But alas, you have small rooms, for these will surely look smaller with a black wall no? Your windows are all north facing, glorified peep-holes that when paired with a dark living room will create nothing but a perpetual twilight zone. Maybe your ceilings are too low, your walls too potholed. Or maybe your bank balance at the end of each month stretches to 1 pot of paint (home-brand that is, Farrow and who?) and is nowhere near the digits required to fully embrace the essential accessories that Pinterest tortures us with.
For the mere mortals amongst us, 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.
Size doesn’t matter - honestly!
Simply put, any size room can go dark. Don't believe me? How many of your bathroom Pinterest board images have dark walls? And isn't the bathroom the smallest room in the house? You'll need to style it to suit (keep reading), but whatever the size, dark bathrooms ooze luxury, dark bedrooms feel cosy, hallways scream elegance and the list goes on. Whatever size, shape or function, it can work.
Image Credit : Abarella (Instagram)
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. If you choose to add an accent colour, just stick to 1. Too many detract from the look you are aiming to achieve.
Greens work brilliantly, especially as you can add the colour in the form of plants.
Alcoves can be a great way to add a splash of colour too. Whether your going for a bold colour or simply painting alcoves darker, this can be a great way to inject a little life into a room.
Image credit: Farrow & Ball
Break it up
A particularly useful consideration if you choose to paint your longest wall a dark colour. Just like a plain white wall, a black wall will equally need something to break it up. Mirrors, photo wall arrangements and posters in your accent colour not only break up the space but will cut into the expanse of dark…making it feel less dark. Simple.
image credit: Patirobins (instagram)
Add some metallic touches
For no other reason than that they just look stunning against dark coloured walls. Coppers, brass, golds, chromes or all of the above. It’s a match made in heaven!
Canvas plug in wall lights - Vaunt Design
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.
image credit: Desenio
Play with your features
Chimneys, alcoves, 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 simply painting alcoves darker whilst retaining lighter coloured walls. Alternatively, neutral features against a dark wall 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 plus points so decide which works best for your space.
Expect the room to shrink
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.
Remember; if you paint alcoves darker they will also shrink, but thatr may be the look you're going for so experiment away.
Image Credit: Rockmystyle.co.uk
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. The famous decorator, and arguably 'inventor' of interior design as a profession, 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.
Check out our selection of wall mirrors here
Metal Frame Mirrors - Vaunt Design
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 supreme.
Gloss, matt or satin...a practical consideration
To end 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. Choose your paint type wisely: Gloss has the highest shine and will reflect the 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.
image credit: the_house_that_jen_built (instagram)
So, there you go, hopefully you're feeling brave enough to take the plunge! But remember, if you're not happy with it, you can always paint over it!
Continue to Vauntdesign.com to shop decor to accessorise your beautiful new dark walls.