This post was originally published on 18th September 2017. Updated and republished on 10th March 2021.
We may be moving into Spring but the trend for dark and dramatic interiors is as strong as ever. It does takes a certain amount of courage to really buy into this look, and I’d urge anyone thinking about switching to the dark side to go for it wholeheartedly. It’s not a look that you can achieve piecemeal. It’s all or nothing. Especially as the starting place will always be the transformation to darker walls, which can be very scary at first. But if you are still on the fence, there are a few tricks that will keep a dark interior scheme dynamic and interesting, and certainly the opposite of dull.
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Image: Faunaction Wallpaper from Divine Savages.
Choosing to go dark isn’t necessarily just a question of painting your walls black. Indeed, matt black walls can sometimes look a little bit drab. A daring patterned wallpaper will give the right amount of drama but will also add interest and be an immediate talking point. Alternatively you could add the pattern to large pieces of upholstery or to the curtains instead, while keeping the walls plain. On a side note, don’t be afraid to hang prints on a patterned wallpaper especially if the colours and tones are complementary.
Add Texture and Warmth
Image: Islington 3 Seater Chaise, Sofology.
There are a lot of things in the interior design toolbox that will add warmth. Wood immediately springs to mind. Dark walls and a warm wood floor would be an excellent starting point for a dark and dramatic scheme. And then you can layer on textures to create a room that is welcoming and cocooning. A deep shaggy rug to wiggle the toes in, a velvet sofa to sink into, and a thick knitted throw to add even more comfort. You can also pile on the furs to add an even more luxurious touch.
Add Reflective Items
Image: St Ives Harbour Outdoor Pendant Light from Garden Trading.
To balance the way that such a dark scheme can absorb all light, you need to add some reflective materials to bounce it around again. Glass is perfect. As are crystal chandeliers and large statement mirrors. The latter needn’t just hang on the wall. Place mirrors on the table as placements and they will add interesting impressions, as well as reflecting back the flickering candlelight. Hang them opposite windows to bounce more light into the room or hang them in dark corners to deceive the eye into thinking the room is bigger than it is. Of course any of the metals will lift a black scheme. Gold also adds the desired amount of glamour.
Image: Finsbury Sofa from Furniture and Choice.
If an entirely dark scheme is just a step too far, I certainly won’t judge if you’d prefer to add some contrast. A white leather sofa against a dark wall can still look just as dramatic. Paired with black and white photographs in black frames it can even look a bit ‘hollywood glamour’. It this is the route you prefer, I’d pull back on the layers of texture and keep the scheme more minimal instead.
Add Atmospheric Lighting
Image: Charleston Sofa from Furnture and Choice.
Dark rooms at night also need lots of atmosheric lighting to make them cosy and warm. Add as many tablelamps, wall lamps and reading lights as you can. Switch to dimmer switches for any overhead lights, but really you want to avoid these at all costs. The aim is to create soft pools of light around the room to draw the eye and invite your guests to enter and explore. Candlelight will also look amazing, especially if you have added mirrors, crystals and metals into the scheme for extra twinkle.
Add Interest to Walls and Add Lots of Plants
Image: George Monkey Wall Light In Gold from Iconic Lights.
Dark walls need lots of interest to stop them looking dull. Artwork, mirrors (see previous tip), mementos, photographs. Whatever suits the scheme and feeling that you are trying to create. But don’t forget houseplants either. Whatever scheme you choose, greenery will add an extra dimension, an organic touch and most important of all, life.