What To Know About Decorating With Dark-Colored Walls

ECOS Paints 11/30/2021
What To Know About Decorating With Dark-Colored Walls

When it comes to interior décor, we tend to focus on creating rooms that are airy and bright and look larger than they really are. Because of that, we tend to choose light-colored wall paints, like pale gray, beige, cream, or white.

However, darker colors create a unique, dramatic look in rooms that is truly eye-catching. And for those up to the challenge, painting the walls in dark colors can create truly stunning rooms. If you’re intimidated by the idea of using dark paints, learn what to know about decorating with dark-colored walls to pull off the look.

Impacts and Caveats of Darker Colored Paints in a Room

As mentioned, light-colored rooms have a distinct impact on how we perceive the room, making it seem brighter and more open. Dark colors also impact how we perceive a room, and knowing how will help you know how to decorate a room with dark-colored walls. Here are a few principles to keep in mind:

  • Dark colors tend to make a space feel less bright
  • Dark walls seem closer, making the space feel smaller and more intimate
  • Dark colors tend to absorb heat, making them warmer during the day
  • Dark colors tend to show imperfections more easily

These ideas can make people hesitant to choose dark colors for their walls. However, dark colors also lend themselves to an artistic, moody, or elegant aesthetic with the right room design.

How Gloss Impacts Dark Colored Paints

Recently, there’s been a rise in the use of high-gloss paints to add a dramatic and interesting touch to a space. The brightness of higher gloss paints often works well with dark colors because it heightens the color while adding a little light to the space, thanks to the reflective surface.

However, high-gloss surfaces tend to magnify any flaws in your wall’s surface. If you opt for a dark color in a high gloss finish, be sure you have done your due diligence in preparing the walls. Otherwise, try to use paint with a lower sheen, such as eggshell.

Choosing a Room for Dark Paint

Because of the way dark colors impact how we perceive a room, choosing the right room is key to getting the most of your dark paints.

Choosing a Room by Size

Because dark-colored paints tend to make a room look smaller, most people save them for larger rooms, especially those with tall ceilings. The dark colors make the room feel homier.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use dark colors in small spaces. Even though dark walls seem closer, they also trick the eye into blurring the edges of the room. This can actually make the room look like it goes on for longer than it does, making it seem larger overall.

Choosing a Room by Light

Dark-colored rooms may feel darker, but they don’t simply swallow light. Light still interacts with dark-colored walls, especially with regard to the warmth of the light in the room. Rooms with warm natural light will seem warmer and more welcoming than ones with cool-toned lighting.

Both the direction of the window and the time of day will impact the warmth of the light in the room. South-facing windows tend to have the warmest light while north-facing windows tend to feel the coolest. East and west-facing rooms will change throughout the day as the sun travels across the sky.

When in doubt, paint a swatch of the wall in your desired color and keep an eye on it throughout the day to decide if you like it.

Using Contrast To Create Balance

Because dark colors have a greater weight to them, some people find them overwhelming in a space, especially when they’re on every single wall. The best way to break up the heavy darkness and add additional visual interest is to add lighter color elements to create contrast.

If you’re worried about excessive heaviness, learn a few different ways to add contrast ahead.

Walls and Ceilings

If you find that all the walls being the same color is too much for your space, you can always consider painting one of the walls a dark color to create an accent wall, or even paint two of the walls in a dark color and leave the other two a pale neutral.

If you’re determined to keep all four walls dark, you can still create contrast by keeping your ceiling a pale color. Having a ceiling that is a paler color than the walls tends to make a space seem taller, which can help balance out the feeling that the walls are closer.

Trim and Molding

Trim and molding naturally break up the design of walls. In many houses, these elements simply blend in with the walls, but when you paint the trim a pale color against a dark wall, it creates a contrast that can make the room seem bigger while adding a touch of elegance.

Keep in mind trim doesn’t only refer to your baseboards. There are several other varieties of trim, such as:

  • Crown molding
  • Picture rail
  • Picture frame molding
  • Chair rail
  • Casing

Alternatively, you can use light-colored paint to highlight other architectural elements that are surrounded by or connect with the trim, such as woodwork or support beams.


You can create contrast without changing too much about the architecture of the space by hanging art with contrasting colors. You can either hang one large piece or several pieces beside each other for a gallery wall to get the same effect. A mirror also creates excellent contrast while adding some much-needed light to the space.


Along with the walls themselves, you can create contrast throughout the rest of the room with the furnishings you choose. This isn’t to say you have to put white couches all over your space, especially when you have young children or pets. Any bright color can create a pleasing contrast. For instance, you can choose complementary colors such as yellow throw pillows beside purple walls to create a contrast.

Dark-colored rooms are truly unique in the world of interior design. If you want to add beautiful dark colors to your walls without the harsh chemicals, ECOS Paints has a wide collection of paints in any color under the sun.

CATEGORIES Tips & Tricks