50 Shades of Paint: How to Make Dark Colors Work

A short guide on how to use dark colors in interior decoration endeavors.


Bright neutrals seem to be everyone’s top choice when it comes to interior décor colors. But those who feel they want to express themselves through their choice of color can safely do so if they take the time to make the right moves.

Don’t go overboard

Dark colors on interior walls are a taboo as they are often perceived as gloomy. The trick with dark colors as interior paint is to limit the use of it. Do not paint every single room in your home a dark color. With every single room painted in such way, your home could become too dark, gloomy, and the color will lose its bold effect. You should have light areas in between dark areas, so you can visually cross from one to another.

Use them as accents

A safe choice of using a bold color in your home is by applying them to a single wall per room. This does not mean that all rooms should have them, but those that do could benefit from its intensity. This way you will have the visual mix of bright and dark, as mentioned above, all within one room. The accent wall can set the tone and the mood of the entire room, it can become elegant, energetic, sophisticated etc.

Focus on walls

When suggesting that a dark color is a good choice for interior paint, we only focus on walls. The ceiling is a completely different story. The color of any room alters the perception of it, but the color of the ceiling does it in a more obvious way. A ceiling painted black, or dark green per say, will appear very low. It may be a smart choice only for those who live in homes with high ceilings and are bothered by them. If you really find that the ceiling is where your color should go, try a mix of colors, or try using white crown molding and some floor-to-ceiling features such as long curtains or tall bookshelves.

The finish

Another important thing to consider when painting your walls dark is the finish. Choosing between a matte and a glossy finish depends on the personal preferences first of all, based on the effect you want to achieve, the properties of the room, and the properties of the walls. A glossy finish will make a dark color less dark and it will allow the light to bounce off the walls. On the other hand, a matte finish makes the chosen color more dramatic, but it absorbs light. Another downfall of the matte finish is that it emphasizes every little imperfection on walls which can be effectively hidden if you opt for several coats of a glossy finish. You can always ask your chosen painting contractors to estimate which one will work better on a specific wall. They could fix-up the imperfection and suggest how to improve the lighting.

Stirring up with bright colors

Using dark colors only in a single room for walls, furniture, and decorative items makes the colors lose their boldness. Such rooms are simply dull and dark. However, if you add some bright colors to it, you have a whole different effect. When it comes to bright or rather light colors, you can go monochromatic. This means that you won’t implement too many colors but keep a single undertone and us neutrals for the rest of the room. Such rooms will appear sophisticated. On the other hand, you can use bright accents and make any room alive. Your bright yellow, orange, or red will stand out even more against dark walls and make entire space lively.

Add shine to it

We are past the finish and are now only looking at other attributes of the room you can add to make any dark color work. Focus on items with reflective surfaces. Metals, glass, and mirrors work excellent for this purpose, particularly if you have opted for a matte finish. Furthermore, you can accessorize with items of metallic colors as they can have the same effect.


The major concern about using dark colors in a room is the fear there will be a lack of light. Instead of adding light with colors, you can take an obvious measure if adding light for more light. If dark colors are the only way you want to choose for your home, you can add an extra window to a room. On the other hand, without making large alterations, you can add more natural light by placing mirrors opposite the windows, or in corners, if you have a corner window. When it comes to artificial light, the more the better. You can have a chandelier as a centerpiece or an authentic floor lamp. Recessed LED lights will add a good base for the entire rooms lighting so then you can play with lamps to set the mood.

Big or small, any room can work well with dark colors. There are easy ways you can make any color work in your home without the risk of making you feel bad or sad.

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