How to Create Drama with Dark Paint Colors

dark grey living room with pops of colour

Moody hues. They’ve been on our radar for quite some time now but 2016 looks to be the year that dark paint colors become much more mainstream than a trend just adopted by the design-saavy.

I’ll be honest with you – when I first saw black walls becoming a ‘thing’ on interior design sites a few years ago, I assumed it was a passing fad. It reminded me of my youth, all black eyeliner and ripped jeans with Doc Martins and posters of obscure bands on my wall, writing furiously into my journals about my parents just not understanding me and endless tomes about my latest crush.

But I realised slowly, this was different. It wasn’t “parental rebellion” I saw in these images. It started with the odd feature wall but slowly, I was seeing entire rooms enveloped in dark cozy inky colors, natural textures comfortable against their moody backdrops, pops of bright hues engaging my senses in ways I’d never before noticed and metallics gleaming as stars against a night sky.

This dark movement started quietly but for me it was probably British interior designer and entrepreneur Abigail Ahern who was the main culprit in bringing it to the mainstream. Her inky hues are the signature of her maximalist California / Old West/Bohemian look.

The legions of followers of her popular blog (myself included) picked up our paintbrushes by the masses, equipped with the tools and advice we needed to make this look work and soon thereafter, I committed myself wholly by saturating the walls in my bedroom with a nearly-black slate grey. I was immediately converted as was my other half who took a full year of convincing before he let me do it.

my own black bedroom

The main concern most people have before committing to a dark color is that it will make the resulting space feel a lot smaller. While this may be the case, I do find that the edges of the room, encased in that darkness, become inconspicuous and therefore tend to recede. It’s less of a feeling of claustrophobia and more one of coziness and intimacy.


The secret really lies not in the paint color itself, but what goes against this velvety backdrop. Whatever it is that you place against it will be where your eye is drawn and so best make whatever it is worthy of attention. Objects and furnishings pop against dark colors – more so than they would against a white backdrop – and colors appear brighter and bolder.

Take care when choosing your art and accessories – ensure they engage the mind, attract the eye and tantalise the senses. The more interesting and engaging your choices, the more the resulting room comes to life.

A hint of shimmery metallics will add a natural glamour as well, piercing the darkness with their reflective surfaces. White provides a fitting contrast, becoming brighter and starker.

In a room full of warm neutrals, be sure to bring in plenty of texture to keep things from looking too flat and creating a cozy and welcoming vibe.

Lighting in a dark room plays a prominent role as well. You want to create pockets of light with plenty of options – not just for your general lighting but also by way of things like table and floor lamps as well as wall sconces, illuminating various areas of the room that you want to draw attention to.


Choose the right furniture and accessories for your dark walls with eye-catching details, textures and statement color.

While I won’t necessarily be painting every wall in my own home a dark hue, I still love my bedroom with it’s warm and intimate coziness. Will dark paint colors become the next ‘builder beige’? That’s probably doubtful as I do believe it takes a little bit of courage to take that leap but I certainly hope this trend which is certainly getting stronger all the time, decides to stay awhile.

What do you think of the latest trend of dark wall colors? Is it something you’d like in your home? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!