Dark colours can be intimidating. Painting a room navy, chocolate brown or burgundy usually has people running in horror, but why? There are many reasons that people shy away from using deep colours; questions arise like, will it make the room to small? Dark? Overpowering? Or what if I don’t like it and end up painting it all over again? Opting for neutrals is always a safe choice and can be easily dressed up in any way you can conceive, but by leveraging the atmosphere that a deep colour can create in your home, your rooms can take on whole new feeling.
Dark walls can make a space ‘cozy’ or intimate but you have to consider which room it is you are using and how the effect could affect the function of that room. A ‘mood’ is great for a bedroom or living space but can be a bit overpowering for a small bathroom or child’s bedroom – so much so it can border on being ‘scary’!
Planning to paint your walls a dark and striking colour is a must. By selecting the right drapery, window treatments and upholstery before you commit to hours of work, you can make your home a beautiful statement of things you love without the worry that can come with using rich colours.
Here are a few things to consider to make sure deep colours work for you.
‘Lightening’ dark rooms
One way to help with the atmosphere of deep coloured walls is to furnish the room with lighter furniture. By choosing a sofa in a lighter shade of the wall colour, or a contrast if you prefer, you can lift the look of a room and make it feel lighter.
Use the lighting in the room to break up big blocks of colour, focussing the light from multiple sources at different levels. The addition of a table lamp, uplighter, fairy lights or under cabinet lights will add interest that can detract from the monotony of deep colour. By painting the ceiling in bright white paint with a more glossy finish, the light is bounced around the room making dark corners more cheery.
Use an accent colour to offset the deep tones to add some life to the room and don’t be afraid of a really bright colour. You can add a ‘pop’ of colour with pillows, ottomans or throws, as well is in upholstery fabric and drapes.
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What goes with dark walls?
Light coloured art work is a must for deep coloured walls as the colours, as is white or light coloured crown molding because it breaks up the colour and frames the wall. The same principle goes for the floor. Add a light rug to a dark floor or use light carpet or wood.
When you have deep coloured walls your choice of drapes becomes really important. If you want a more cozy atmosphere choose fabric in the same shade as the walls, this brings the room colour to wrap round the room without causing a distraction. Use a self-patterned, heavy fabric for a more sophisticated look or fabric with a rich pile.
If you want to create a distraction or break up the intense colour, use your drapes to add an accent. Use floor to ceiling panels in a light weight fabric in a light colour, or patterned with the same colour of the paint. You need to let the light into a dark room so a light coloured sheer is always a great idea to let in maximum brightness.
Tips for decorating with deep colours
Always test your paint in situ before committing to the whole room. Generally, deep colours look darker when they are on the wall so test patches are a must. It’s a tough decision to know where to paint a test patch because if you put it in an inconspicuous place it may not give you a true reflection of the overall colour, but testing them in the middle of the room may give rise to plenty of opinion from family and guests. Deep colours tend to provoke very strong reactions! You also need to remember that glass, metals surfaces appear brighter in a dark space so if you have mirrors or gold or brass fittings in your room they will really ‘pop’ after painting.
One of the rules of interior design is that a light ceiling appears higher, and a dark one lowers. It’s the same with pale walls, they seem further away and deeper coloured ones close in a space. If you are unsure of which will suit your room, or your taste, then experiment with swatches of the paint you want and see if it alters your perception of the room proportions. You can also get swatches of possible drapery and upholstery fabric too. This will help you plan a co-ordinated look.
Adding rich coloured artwork and soft luxurious furnishings add further drama. Plush velvets and raw linens add to the ‘intimate’ atmosphere, especially if they are also in dark hues that contrast or compliment the wall colour.
Your drapes become a focal point on dark walls, and a good rule of thumb is use a very light background with a full design that incorporates your primary colour. A valance would also set the window treatment apart and make sure your windows do not blend in with your walls.
By making the colours of the fitments and furnishings lighter or darker than you walls, you create a sense of lightness which can break up the deep colour, adding a depth to the overall design. Dark walls work exceptionally well with antique or mismatched furniture, which can bring out the beauty of an eclectic interior.
Do not be afraid of using white paint for your woodwork. The contrast will frame the walls perfectly and set them up for showing them at their best. It’s also a good idea to break up the intensity of deep coloured walls by giving the eyes a place to rest, such as light based art, high contrast wall hangings or even white half-length wainscoting to offset the colour.
There are so many ways you can use deep coloured paint on your walls that it really is an exciting prospect! Go on! Go deep! And never be afraid of the dark again.
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