8 Ways To Embrace Dark Decor

Kate Worthington

Bored of beige? Sick of Scandi? Sounds like you’re ready to come over to the dark side of decorating. In a sea of airy, minimalist interiors floating around on Pinterest and Instagram, nothing says daring like a dark decorating scheme – and we’re not just talking about grey. Oh no, there’s a whole spectrum of moody shades out there just waiting to flood your home with a new confidence.

The high priestess of dark decorating schemes, designer Abigail Ahern (whose dramatic signature style kickstarted the trend for dark walls) says: "Dark colours are sophisticated, achingly cool and cosy at the same time. They make me feel cocooned and enveloped, and instantly elevate everything in the room so they look cooler and more expensive! It’s the ultimate in laid-back glam." See? It all makes perfect sense. Dressing our homes in flattering dark shades is cooler, more flattering and easier to live in – just like our worn-to-death indigo jeans or black polo.

Here's eight ways to embrace the dark…




Green with envy

Dark mineral greens ooze a sexy kind of opulence, so perhaps they’re most at home in the bedroom, where the shade’s soothing hue can help to promote better sleep and relaxation. Moody shades are great for light sleepers too, as the darker you go, the less light disturbance you’ll experience. Team with slubby, crumpled linens in similar tones to completely cocoon yourself. Sweet dreams.

Dark matter

A dark colour scheme in the kitchen might not seem like a practical choice at first, but when you think about it, it’s waaay more practical than a pristine white kitchen. For one, there’ll be no danger of wall stains from ‘enthusiastic’ cooks. Likewise, black flooring won’t show dirt and will stay looking fresh for longer. Layer different textures to build up visual interest; black tiles reflect light back into the room and dark timber cabinets or furniture will bring a tactile element to your space.

Baby steps

Not ready to take the plunge and go all out? There are less intense ways to inject deep shades into your decor and still make an impact. Leave a wide border around your wall area to create a giant canvas of colour (this is Plimsoll by Paint & Paper Library) and see how you feel. You might like it how it is, or you might then want to go the whole way once you’re used to it. Or, consider a two-tone wall, with the darker shade on the bottom half of the wall and a lighter one above. Not as scary as you think…

Bronzed beauty

We never thought we'd see the day when brown was back in vogue. Thanks to tastemaker Abigail Ahern, it’s only a matter of time before we ditch Downpipe and take up with Crosby, an irresistibly cosy pinkish-brown hue from the designer’s own paint range. For further confirmation that brown is the new grey, also see Farrow & Ball’s brilliantly named 'Salon Drab', one of nine new colours. Use it with emerald greens and viridian blues for best effect – just be sure to get in there first, before everyone else does.

The new black

Black bathrooms are a thing, fact. As with kitchens, an all-white scheme can look sterile and bland, but plunge your bathroom into darkness and it’ll suddenly look rock ‘n’ roll. Anyway, going dark needn’t mean you have to live in monotone. In fact, introducing a splash of colour to a charcoal or jet-black backdrop will turn up the contrast, bringing a dramatic and dynamic feel to your space. Who said black was boring?

Sing the blues

A more uplifting and serene alternative to traditional dark colours such as black or charcoal, saturated blue hues are gaining favour in the interiors world and are fast becoming the new grey. They may be soothing, but still have clout; try a striking combo of blues and violets like this kitchen painted in Dulux’s Veiled Violet, Sapphire Springs 1 and Galactic Sky, to create a sense of depth.

Tall, dark & handsome

For those worried a dark scheme will make their already small space even smaller, the trick according to Abigail Ahern is to "go all out... paint walls, floors, ceilings, everything – it can actually make a space feel bigger. It might sound counterintuitive, but by painting everything one shade you remove boundaries and create the illusion of infinity." Room painted in Hudson Black, by Abigail Ahern.

Top of the class

No ode to dark decor schemes would be complete without a nod to blackboard paint. Its super matt texture and association with school days bring a certain nostalgic charm to spaces, rather than the all-out glamour of emulsion or tiles. The best thing about it of course, is that you’ll have free reign to doodle, write to-do lists, scribble ideas and pen memos on the wall itself. Workspaces and hallways are prime territory for chalkboard paint – especially for the forgetful among us.



Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

6 Rooms That'll Make You Rethink Pink

10 Decluttering Hacks Every 20-Something Needs To Know

Reasons To Be Glad You Still Rent