Color Month

I Broke a Design “Rule” with My Dining Room Paint, but Everyone Loves It

published Jul 26, 2023
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I’m not afraid of using dark colors in my home. I’ve always loved adding black to add a grounding element and to introduce contrast, drama, and some edge to my otherwise bohemian decor. In my home, black often punctuates my rooms through lighting, furniture, and wall art, but when I was considering a painted accent wall for my dining room, I felt like taking a little bit of a risk by putting black on the walls, too. 

But isn’t there some interior design rule that you’re not supposed to paint small rooms in deep shades? That tends to be the conventional wisdom among designers and many DIYers, but dark colors can deliver if you choose the right shade and strategically decorate around it. If these 40 rooms don’t have you ready to go to the dark side, take a look at room number 41 — my dining room — because I love the way it turned out.

I knew that black paint would blend nicely with the decor in the rest of my home, and it would really anchor the space. That said, instead of going with a true saturated shade of black, I decided on Sherwin-Williams’ Iron Ore, a slate hue that’s definitely not gray but is ever-so-slightly softer than black, just to make sure that my dining room didn’t look too severe. Whether I share pictures online or people walk in, I find that they often ask for the paint color. 

I love the cocoon-like, cozy feeling it brings to my dining room. So, how did I make it work to the point that it makes me smile basically every time I look at it? It’s all about the styling, and I’m letting you in on my secrets here.

Pair it with white or off-white for high contrast.

In my dining room, I find the slate wall doesn’t overwhelm the space because I just painted one wall, and the other walls in the space are bright white. The surrounding white walls feel airy when juxtaposed against the shadowy vibe of the dark wall.

Break it up with art. 

A plain wall coated in slate top-to-bottom with no ornamentation or detail? That could’ve overpowered my dining room. But if you break up an accent wall like this with artwork in an unexpected hue, it gives the eye somewhere to focus and rest. For my dining room, I was drawn to shades of green alongside the slate, so I hunted for thrifted artwork that prominently features verdant colors. A black-and-white vintage sign acts as a focal point in the middle of all those pieces. 

Go simple with the rest of your decor. 

In a small space, it’s a good idea to lean toward a bit of minimalism over maximalism (unless that’s your thing — then go all out!). But my goal was to make the room seem larger, so I opted for a modern, streamlined dining table, sleek mid-mod chairs, and a Sputnik chandelier that’s just visually interesting enough without being overpowering in the mix. When partnered with the slate wall, the clean lines of the furniture don’t jump in to overtake the space, which makes it seem larger with room to breathe.