Welcome to the dark side

I absolutely LOVE a dark paint colour. It’s not for everyone – I know a lot of people who like dark paints but don’t know how to use them, or are just a bit afraid of them. Well let me reassure you, there really is no need to be afraid of the dark.

Top Hat by Fired Earth

Featured image: Hague Blue living room by Farrow & Ball

Paint the whole room

That’s right. All. Four. Walls. This is something of a bug bear of mine so I’ll do my best not to rant on about it but I’m not promising anything.

Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball

There are actually very few instances when it is correct to paint a single wall and I’ll show you some examples in a bit, but usually when a wall is painted as a “feature wall” in a different colour, it just looks like you ran out of paint. Most people think that if a colour or pattern is too bold, it will be too overpowering to use it on all walls. In fact, the opposite is true. Paint a single wall and your eye is immediately drawn to it; it’ll be more noticeable and can sometimes make the room feel smaller. Paint the whole room and the colour just becomes this beautiful backdrop, you don’t notice the corners and you slightly lose a sense of the size of the room. To really commit to the look – paint the ceiling too.

This works particularly well in spaces with limited natural light as the dark colour gives you a greater sense of light and dark, allowing you to appreciate the light when you have it and embrace the duskiness when you don’t. I promise it won’t be gloomy and dull, it’ll be chic and elegant. Light will seemingly flood in through tiny windows and you can light up dark corners with lamps to create cosy nooks.

Contrast and highlight
Library / hallway in Railings by Farrow & Ball

When used alongside lighter and brighter colours, the contrast with a darker shade can be used with great effect. If you have period features like deep skirting boards, ornate picture rails or beautiful panelling, shun the traditional white and paint all your woodwork darker than the walls. It’s a little trick to draw the eye to the room’s best features and will make your home look instantly more expensive.

If you have little or no natural light then it’s best to just go with it than try to fight it. A common area with low light is the entrance hall and this is a great space to use dark colours. It’s not a space that you spend much time in so this is an opportunity to be a little daring. Create a sense of drama as you enter with dark walls and beautiful lighting, while the contrast in light when you walk into the adjoining rooms will feel so much greater.

Display and disguise
Charcoal by Fired Earth
Mole’s Breath by Farrow & Ball

A dark background is the perfect setting to display art, photos or decorative items. Create an awesome looking gallery wall by painting the wall a dark colour. The pieces will stand out magnificently and you’ll be able to appreciate that original Picasso so much more. Same goes for delicate white flowers against a moody-hued wall or leatherbound books stacked along the shelves of a dramatically inky bookcase. Not to mention the subtle flicker of candlelight in a shadowy corner.

Conversely you can also use a dark wall as a disguise. In my opinion, one of the biggest eyesores in the home is the dreaded television. Fortunately for us, the TVs of today are pretty darn thin but they do seem to be getting bigger and bigger. A sleek way to conceal a massive black screen is to put it against a massive black wall. Perhaps accompany it with shelves displaying beautiful items or some splendid artwork if you want to add some interest but at least when it’s off it will just blend into the background. Plus, the dramatic surround will give your movie nights an added cinematic experience!

Custom brass coffee table and media cabinet with brass inlay
Design by Fanny Abbes, The New Design Project / Photography by Alan Gastelum

So what do you reckon? Do you share my love of these sumptuous shades or are you still unconvinced? Have I converted you to join me on the dark side?  Come on over, you know you want to…

J x

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