Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why are we so afraid of dark wall colors?

There may be some truth to the seemingly popular belief that if you paint a small room in really dark colors it will make the room feel smaller. But the opposite is true in most cases. Dark colors on walls with lighter color furniture and furnishings can actually cause the room to feel bigger. The reason is that dark colors on the wall with the contrast of lighter furniture in the foreground, tends to cause the walls to visually recede and give the illusion of more space. On the other hand, dark colors on walls with dark furniture and furnishings does create a more cozy feel. Cozy can have a negative connotation, especially in the real estate world, but cozy is sometimes the perfect choice in certain spaces. In rooms such as a master bedroom or a den or library, a cozier, more intimate feel works best. It is also a great way to make a larger room feel more intimate and in-scale with the users of the space.  There are many sought after designers who have made this "dark on dark" way of decorating their signature style. There are some key elements that if followed carefully will create a beautiful, cozy and even a romantic space. You will find that there is no need to be afraid of dark colors on walls.

Use various finishes with wall colors, ceiling colors and trim colors. Basically what this means is to choose different sheens for different surfaces. For example the walls can be painted in an "eggshell" finish, while the trim and built-ins painted in a semi-gloss, while the ceiling painted in a  high gloss. If black is the color choice, then it is sometimes better to go with as little sheen as possible.

Use various textures throughout the room. The same is true for any room, but in a dark on dark color scheme, using various textures is key to adding interest and preventing the room from looking flat and bland. Using textured wallpaper such as grasscloth is a great way to add texture in large doses. Fabrics are also going to be your best friend with adding various textures to a room.

Use large scale and bold furniture pieces as your key pieces. Of course your furniture should be appropriately scaled for the room size, but this is not the time to be a wimp. A bunch of small pieces, may physically fit the room, but will end up looking cluttered in the finished space. Not all pieces have to be large scale, but your key pieces should balance the dark walls.

Use less matchy matchy pieces for a more dynamic, eclectic space. If you had the guts to pick a dark wall color, then follow through and mix it up. Matchy matchy in any room looks boring and predictable anyway, so you want to avoid doing that all around. But mixing different furniture styles and periods in a dark on dark room is definitely a yes.

It doesn't all have to be neutral or monochromatic. While you want to be confident with your color choices, this doesn't mean you have to go monochromatic, where all the colors are various shades and tones of one color and neither does it have to be all neutral and earth tones. Whatever your color choice is for the walls, care should be taken to balance the rest of the room so you don't end up with a clown house.

Lighting will be your best friend. One of the key elements to decorating with dark colors is lighting. Too much lighting is just as bad as not enough so choose carefully. Different types of lighting sources must be used to complete the room: Task lighting, ambient lighting, accent lighting.

In conclusion, you shouldn't be afraid of using the colors you love in your home, even if they are very dark. Design rules are great, but sometimes you can break the rules and still have a beautiful result. It does take a skilled eye to put some of the elements together, so I am including some of my favorite rooms for your inspiration. They are from various sources. Please leave a comment and let me know if this post has helped you overcome your fear of going to the dark side. Have fun decorating!

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