Style It Dark: Ruth’s Interior Wisdom
Ruth from the Design Soda blog talks dark interior style and why it’s a winner in the home.
According to modern wisdom a few years ago, dark wall colours were a major style faux pas. They were too dramatic and enclosing. They stole light, made spaces appear smaller and you had to be mad to try this look…or so the wisdom went. And then a particular interior designer from North London started a movement when she painted all the walls (and some ceilings) in her house very dark – I do of course mean Abigail Ahern. And with those brush stokes the dark and interesting movement started.
Skip forward to now and dark, jewel-like tones are having a real moment in the interior style stakes, adding instant glamour and cosiness to many homes. From deep, emerald greens and plum, to navy and teal or black to almost-black, and in darker interpretations of colours that have dominated for a while – muddier dusky pinks and terracotta tones – one things for sure, dark colours are definitely not going anywhere.
I have used dark colours in my own home for several years, in particular spaces, and I think they work beautifully. I tend to use dark tones in smaller rooms where they have a feeling of the infinite to me and actually increase my perception of space. Our last two main bathrooms have been on the mean side for space and I used black in the first bathroom and deepest navy in my most recent renovation. I also edge towards the dark side if I’m looking for masculinity, somewhere to make other elements pop and in spaces we use in the evening.
Our dining room as we inherited it was a bit of a redundant space. We rebranded it the cocktail room and used a bright but very dark blue on the walls in here. Blue is very much on trend at the moment – in fact I think a major colour institution will be calling it for blue next year – it’s a really good tone to edge into the dark trend with as it feels less flat than other dark shades and is very liveable. We find dark blue is a very tranquil colour, almost neutral. It feels neither masculine or feminine and is a great colour to unwind with.
Dark interiors are really versatile and work really well in most styles. Our home office is decorated in a style reminiscent of 1930’s modernism and is a very masculine space (I find that austere tones help to concentrate my mind). We have decorated with a very dark grey (which borders on black) in this space to create drama and to let other elements pop. I find that artwork in here comes to the fore, with the dark backdrop acting as negative space that recedes, allowing both art and textiles to really sing.
I also think a heavy dose of colour on the floors can work wonders for grounding more neutral spaces. Our bedroom is painted white with a feature wall in oyster grey. I wanted this room to feel calm but a light floor would have felt too airy for the space. We painted the floorboards black in here and it has given the room a notch of sophistication. A punch of darkness can really ground the contrasting lightness on the walls, and if you go dark, I thoroughly recommend painting your skirting boards to match.
A dark floor feels particularly stylish and dark herringbone floors are a favourite of mine. Adding that hint of Parisian chic, they can really bring wow factor to a space, and if you have a showstopper rug it will definitely pop against the darkness of the wood. Using plush fabrics like velvet in dark jewel tones can also really ramp up the opulence in a dark space. I’m currently coveting a burgundy velvet sofa, but blue and green can be equally as chic in the right dark setting.
Really successful dark spaces balance other warmer elements to ground the look, with wood really coming into their own upon a dark backdrop. I use wood as one of my default anchors in all of the rooms in our house, but the warmth of the grain really comes to the fore when used in a dark space.
Similarly, metals can look exceptionally glamorous providing an iridescent element to a dark scheme. We have brass in our navy bathroom and it looks far grander and more arresting here than anywhere else in the house. Dark colours also feel very timeless. They can provide a layer of the historic and make a brilliant backdrop for curated displays of vintage.
Whatever your style from urban to rustic, modern or traditional, dark tones can be a really effective way to inject a hit of edge. My advice is to go with your gut and you won’t be disappointed.
All images by Design Soda.