Dark Walls In Small Spaces

Dark Walls In Small Spaces

Leah Moss
Apr 12, 2010

If there's one decorating myth that I'd love to see go the way of the dodo bird, it's the one that claims dark wall colors are unfit for small rooms. White walls often expand a space, but dark hues can work their own type of magic in small places, and more often than not the result is dead classy and much harder to get wrong.

There's no doubt that white walls are effective space expanders under favorable conditions: paired with high ceilings, wood floors, and streamlined furnishings, and in spaces that receive a lot of natural light. However, in your run-of-the-mill low ceiling-ed, wall-to-wall carpet-ed 70s box, white is a much more challenging color to love. "Spare elegance" rarely works in these types of situations, and it often takes a great deal of other colorful accessories to make the room look purposeful and cohesive rather than dingy and haphazard.

So what's the alternative? Well, when it comes to small rooms, the old fashion adage, "black hides a multitude of sins," certainly applies to interiors as well. Rooms lacking architectural character, especially tiny ones — think powder room — can gain a few style points from a dramatic, deep hue on the walls. A dark color establishes an elegant backdrop that allows you to go as spare on the accessories as you see fit.

However, not all dark colors are created equal. Your safest bets are blacks, charcoals, navy blues, and deep chocolaty browns. Dark reds and greens as well as mid-tone blues can be confining, and can make a room feel even smaller by calling too much attention to the walls themselves.

Dark on dark can work well, but as illustrated above, adding a significant amount of white in your furnishings, linens, and artwork will balance the look, and keep a dark room from feeling too dark.

One of my favorite illustrations to date is Lauren from Pure Style Home's incredible nursery makeover: Pure Style Home | The Nursery {Finally!} Before & After.

Images: 1: Country Living, 2,3: Metropolitan Home via Apartment Therapy, 4: Tom Schreerer, 5: Apartment Therapy Small Cool 2009

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