The 6 Secrets to Making Dark Paint Colors Work

DarkPaintColors When I worked at the paint store, I would often find myself silently laughing as a well-meaning homeowner would hold up a various shade of beige and ask me with a horrified expression, "But don't you think it's too dark???"  In suburban America, I feel that there are many people who are straight up petrified of painting their walls any color other than builder grade white.

Some people will never stray from their beloved off-white walls. And that's their perogative. In fact, I've seen a lot of homes on Pinterest and Houzz with (emphasis: intentionally) white walls that I love.

But then there's the people that really want to try something new with their wall color, but are scared because they don't have the vision to see what it might end up like.

Here's where I can help. Let me debunk some of the things that make people shy away from choosing darker paint colors and tell you how you can make these colors work in your home.

1. Make sure you have adequate lighting. I've lived in enough rental apartments to know that just because a room is painted white, doesn't mean it can't be dark. Most homes have one central ceiling light fixture and that's it. Unless you have a full wall of windows and live in Alaska when the sun never goes down, I'm here to tell you that's not going to cut it! If you rent, invest in beautiful table and floor lamps with neutral or white shades to place around the room. If you own your home, look into installing 4" recessed lights or gallery style track lighting around the perimeter of your room.

2. Paint your ceiling the brightest color white you can find. You need this contrast to make the boldness of the walls pop but also to reflect the most light back into the room as possible from your ceiling fixtures. I recommend Sherwin Williams 7757 High Reflective White or 7006 Extra White.

3. Paint window trim white or use light colored floor to ceiling curtains. Windows are another source of light, so optimize that reflectance and frame your view to the outdoors with a shade of white.

4. Keep large furniture pieces light. The one way to kill a dark room is to fill it with oversized, heavy, dark furniture. Look for pieces in medium to light tones or for couches and chairs with legs. That open space under furniture with legs helps to reduce the "visual weight" and add a feeling of airiness.

5. Accent with shiny, glossy or mirrored items. Reflection is something else that can help to lighten the visual weight of a space. Add an assortment of mirrors to the wall above your couch or accent with a side table painted in high gloss lacquer finish.

6. Break up large expanses of wall with artwork. I am a big proponent of gallery walls, no matter what color you choose for your room. When done correctly, they help to tie together the room through color, pattern and texture. On a dark painted wall, I strongly recommend choosing frames with white mats to make your photos and artwork pop!

And remember, if all else fails, it's just paint! But follow my tips and I think you will love the way dark colors warm up a room. Good luck with your project!