Dark, Daring & Dramatic Walls

Paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to radically change the look of your home. It’s also one of the most forgiving home decoration projects for DIY-types, since it’s usually a fairly simple matter to correct an error or paint over an unfortunate choice.

For that reason, a lot of homeowners tend to play it safe with light, traditional neutral paint colors for home interiors.

That might suit your style just fine. But for a dramatic statement that completely changes the entire look and feel of a room, you can’t beat dark colors.

And while the thought of painting your walls deep burgundy, navy blue, or stormy grey might make you anxious, it might just be the best thing you ever did for your home.

If you’d like to explore the natural drama and intensity of a dark-color paint choice, read on for our thoughts on this timeless trend.

Choose the Right Room for Dark Paint

Not every room is built to carry off the dark-walls look. The ideal choice is a room that’s neither terribly small nor designed around social, large-group activities.

Beautiful bright rug to contrast with the dark gray walls.

Beautiful bright rug to contrast with the dark gray walls.

Why? Dark paint colors such as navy, dark brown, and deep grey do two things reliably well: (1) make a room feel smaller and more intimate, and (2) produce a more mellow, introverted vibe.

That’s great for bedrooms, but maybe not so great for a kitchen or dining room, or any room where you anticipate entertaining groups of people.

Pick the Right Dark Color

There’s no doubt that dark colors bring the drama and glamour faster than their paler neighbors on the color chart.

However, they can also bring regrets, too. That deep, bold, so-purple-it’s-almost-black may look thrilling on a swatch. But when it’s on all four walls of your home office, you might find yourself feeling unsettled and even jittery.

So how do you avoid painter’s regret? Start by evaluating the colors that you naturally gravitate towards in personal clothing, accessories, and any items you collect (art, knick knacks, etc.). If you’re drawn to earthy tones, look at deep and bold variations of the same tones -- dark chocolate or dark slate grey, for instance.

Choose colors you enjoy everyday.

Choose colors you enjoy everyday.

Consider, too, the furniture you’ll be placing in the room. It’s much easier to find a paint color to match your upholstered sofa and curtains than the other way around!

The white walls and mustard rug balance the blue wall nicely.

The white walls and mustard rug balance the blue wall nicely.

Go for Contrast

The best rooms are balanced -- neither too dark-and-heavy nor too light-and-airy. When you’re experimenting with dark colors on your walls, you’ll want to provide lighter elements to create visual contrast. This helps keep your room from feeling overwhelmingly dark, cave-like or even oppressive.

For instance, if you choose a darker Wedgwood-blue for walls, keep large furniture pieces and the floor covering (rugs, carpet, or wood) lighter in tone. Or if you’re painting a bedroom in a deep espresso brown, keep your bed linens and window treatments crisp white or pale blue.

Light doesn’t have to mean white, though. Go beyond the usual boring cream, eggshell, and taupe to provide the necessary interplay between light and dark. Light, bright colors that complement the darker paint tones can work like a single perfect piece of jewelry, accessorizing your room for a polished presentation.

Another way to add some necessary contrast and keep a dark room from becoming overly moody is to add in textural elements through fabrics and lighting. A light-toned sisal rug, for example, can brighten a room with dark grey walls. Sparkling crystal in light fixtures and sconces can help brighten walls of midnight blue.

And throw pillows and blankets of plush faux fur, thick nubby knits, and raw silk are great ways to keep a dark-toned room from becoming overbearing.

Practical Tips for Beautifully Painted Dark Walls

For the best results with dark, bold paint jobs, follow these tips below:

●      Prepare your walls as scrupulously as possible. Scrape, sand, and spackle to smooth out every imperfection, since many dark colors will only make those imperfections more noticeable.

●      Don’t skip the primer. While it might be tempting to save time andeffort by heading straight for the new, bolder color, primer is essential. Get it tinted before applying it for the best results.

●      Invest in the best tools you can find. Paint grids make for a better, less messy experience than paint trays, and adjustable extenders on rollers will help you get the job done with less frustration.

●      Consider skipping the do-it-yourself approach just this once. Deep, dark paint colors can be unforgiving on walls and intimidating to first-time users. A professional painting contractor can knock out the job in less time, with fewer errors and much less anxiety.