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So dark walls are trending – here’s how to make it work


White walls tend to make a space lack character.  It might feel like there is much room, but you could quickly lose the love for the design. Therefore, adding colour to a room could be essential to promoting a sense of pride in your home.

Interior designers are also beginning to see the value in using dark blues and greys, even blacks on feature walls to add elegance and sophistication.  This could be a perfect backdrop for a grey tartan wingback chair.  The apparent danger when using dark paint is shrinking the space.  This could be perceived as cosy, but it could also be felt to be claustrophobic.  However, if you follow certain rules, you can follow this dark wall trend and still make the most of all area of your room.

Choosing the right surfaces to paint

It is possible to use dark surfaces to make a small space seem larger.  This might sound counter-intuitive. However, if you paint the longer surfaces dark but leave the window walls and shorter walls light, then you will give an impression of length and depth to the room.  The lighter window wall will fool the eye and make the whole wall feel like a light source.  The dark walls will shrink into the background of the room, again adding a sense of space.

Choosing the right colour

Not all dark colours offer the same balance of trend against space.  It is better to choose blacks, charcoals, deep browns and navy blues.  These colours add the class without making space feel too confined.  If you select dark greens and deep reds, then you going to make a small room even smaller.  Also, if you add dark prints to dark walls, then you will close in the space.

Blend or contrast

You may be tempted to fill your darker-walled room with light or even white furniture.  This is an option, particularly with accessories such as cushions and drapes.  This will reflect the natural light into the room well.  However, with larger pieces of furniture, such as bookcases and cupboards, you could choose black to go against dark grey or blue, blending in these pieces with the wall.  This blending of large furniture will stop them from visually dominating the room and potentially shrinking the space.

Reflections are key

One of the essential ingredients for a room with dark-painted walls is a mirror.  You may even want a few reflective surfaces.  However, if you put a long mirror on the wall opposite the window, then you will invite the natural sunlight into your room.  The reflection will also extend the space as the image in the mirror will give the impression that the area is longer.

Get to know your space

Before you commit to a dark wall or more, you should get to know your area and consider the mood you want to achieve.  Watch as the sunlight moves through the room and which walls would benefit from remaining pale to reflect any natural light coming through windows.  Think about the shape of the room and if an L-shape, whether longer walls are better dark that the shorter lengths of the room.

It is a good idea to try a tester first to see how the colour changes with the light too.  A charcoal grey may look disappointingly dreary for much of the day, with only an hour or so where the sun brings out zing of the shade.  If you don’t want to commit to painting the walls, or you want to try different effects of brushstrokes, paint A4 paper and move these to different parts of the room.


Chalky greys and dark blues are the newest trend and may make you worry about shrinking your space.  Contrary to believe, dark colours do not necessarily shrink your room.  Reds and Greens may make a place feel claustrophobic, but blacks, greys and blues could add to the sense of size.

To make dark colours work, remember to blend large pieces of furniture but to contrast accessories.  Take care to note the position of the window and place a mirror or two.  More than anything, make sure you know the space before applying paint.

Anna Sharples

Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.


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