13 Ways To Decorate With The Darker Palette

A Pair of Louis XV Style Black Lacquered and Parcel-Gilt Side Tables
A Pair of Louis XV Style Black Lacquered and Parcel-Gilt Side Tables

Darker interiors can be very cozy and rich, but are they for you?

I myself, have fallen in love with darker paint shades, and have painted several of our previous rentals in rich saturated tones.  Here is what I learned……….

A.  Pick The Right Room- Working with a rich dark shade, requires a room that has a LOT of natural light.  When my husband and I rented a condo in Virginia, I wanted to go with a really rich dark shade of Navy.  The main living room and kitchen about had two windows, one on each end.  The complex we rented in had neighbors on each side, so we were limited to windows in the front and the back of the condo.  There wasn’t enough light, yet I still decided to go with a really dark wall color.  It lasted a week until I had to paint over it.  Lesson learned….  dark colors look really rich in rooms where lots of light is present.  If there is a limited amount of light, consider going with something lighter on the walls, and work with dark painted floors with a few dark accent pieces.

B.  Are You Drawn To Dark, Cozier Spaces?  Does your mood remain comfortable when your in a  dark palette for a few hours?  Will your spouse or children be able to cope with the color?  These are a couple questions to ask before deciding to go dark.  If you say “yes”, then a dark saturated shade could be a great scheme to consider.


Saturated Shades

How To Pull Off A Dark Palette…….

1.  Pick A Paint Shade That Has Depth To It- There is a draw back to black, and that is, on the walls, it really can be dark.  Consider going for a dark shade that has some rich undertones that you can play off of.  Black raspberry, Camelot, and Caponata are all shades by Benjamin Moore that are closely related to Eggplant.  This gives you a bit more to work with, when adding in vibrant accents, trim and so forth, than with basic black.  Mess around with different colors, and try out a few samples on the walls before choosing a color.

2.  Play The Paint Tone Of The Wood– Above (Tracy Murdock‘s room) you will see a perfect example of this.  The deep toned walnut mahogany poster bed works almost seamlessly with the wall color.  If you look further down in this post, check out the picture by Don Freeman for Home Beautiful.  If you look at the floor color, and the wall color, the same hue is used on the floors.  This is just one technique used by designers to tie colors together.

Gray stained wood, would look elegant with a really rich saturated tone of charcoal on the walls.  Or go several shades lighter on the walls, and work with the darker tones for the baseboards or painted furniture.

3.  Look For Neutrals Within Your Choice Shade– Natural elements will go a long way to giving some balance to your room.  Look for elements like natural wood floors, marble tables, wicker accessories, ivory candles, and worn leather. Linens and  soft grays are nice complements with darker shades, along with neutral tones like linen, khaki, white, ivory, gray and gray-greens.

4.  Add In Shine– Lighting is a must for any dark interior.  There are other ways you can bring in the light, in addition to lamps.  Mirrors do wonders for opening a room up.  Place smaller mirrors behind lamps, which will reflect more light around the room. Work with floor to ceiling mirror, and paint the frame a couple shades lighter than your walls.  Another designer trick is to use glossy paint.  Either go for wood cabinets, or go with something with an amazing shine.  Work with the same color tones, or go vibrant.  Adding a solid gloss will say “look at me“.

5.  Feature A Couple Select Pictures With The Same Color Matting- Take a look at Matthew Bees condo in Georgetown, for how he layered the green into the matting for his pictures.   If you want a look that isn’t so busy, this will give you interest on your walls, without having your room look like a museum of wall prints.  Go for something bold on your walls, but also go for some pictures that nicely work with the color flow of the room.

6.  Choose One Or Two Opposite Accent Colors- Here in this Miles Redd room decorated around greens, he chooses the color orange and blue.  In this room by Bart Swindall, we see darker green walls, accompanied by tones of orange seen in the raw suitcases, and velvet upholstered chairs.

7.  Add Color In Unexpected Ways– Here we see the legs of a French commode painted in red.  The red is unexpected against the olive and black painted details.  Consider using a bold color for trim around an accent pillow, or hang a series of pictures on a vibrant ribbon that hangs from the ceiling.  A little bit of color can go a long way.

8.  Pick A Couple Really Great Big Pieces – Small-scale furniture only makes a small bedroom look smaller. Try a tall upholstered headboard, or a couch that really speaks volumes in a room.  Use the bigger pieces as the focal points, and decorate around those pieces to add dimension and intrigue.  Pick a focal point of the room, and create interest around it.

9. Consider Creating A Built-in With Bookcases-  Do you love the look of built ins?  Consider choosing a wall where you can line up a series of matching floor to ceiling bookcases that give the appearance of a built in.  Paint the bookcases in the same color as the wall, and you will have that daring, dramatic library you have always dreamed about.  Consider adding molding around the shelves to join the shelves together for a seamless professional appearance.  This could give you the dark look you desire, without having to be married to the color all-over your room.  Adding molding around the edges gives you a break between one color to the next.

10.  Work With Chalkboard Paint–  To incorporate a bit of a darker shade, consider using chalkboard paint. Today you can mix almost any shade with the chalkboard paints available at your local hardware store.  Why not go with a gigantic chalkboard on a wall, instead of something smaller in scale?  You could easily frame a large section of your wall with wood trim from Home Depot, and paint the inner part of the frame with chalkboard paint.

11.  Paint Your Floor In A Dark Shade- Paint your floors dark,  and work with lighter shades for your walls.  Go for a really high gloss for your floors, and transfer that shine on one or two pieces in the room.

12.  Opt For Dark Closets- Have you done anything special with your linen closets?  Linen closets can look terrific in a darker paint color.  Shelves can also be painted, giving these small rooms a bold statement.

13.  Give Your Bottom Cabinets In Your Kitchen A Makeover – Paint your bottom cabinets in black, and leave the upper cabinets in their natural wood shade -Give your kitchen island a gorgeous inky black, while leaving your wood floors in their natural state, which provides warmth to the space and keeps it from feeling too stark.

See 140+ pins of dark interiors on this board.  – Pinterest

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