Dark walls, from inky blue to charcoal and black, are refined and dramatic - but decorating around them without making your space feel too dark can be tricky. If you've been thinking of painting one or more walls a deep, dark hue, these ideas for color and decor pairings should help.
Natural wood. Natural wood, whether in a mirror frame, rustic tabletop or chair, helps lighten up dark walls while also emphasizing their richness. You can't go wrong with a driftwood or barn wood mirror, a farmhouse table or bentwood chairs.
Sculptural shapes. Place anything colorful or white in front of a dark wall, and your eye will be immediately drawn to its contours. Try placing a group of pottery pieces on a console or mantel. Or highlight the shape of an unusual table or chair by positioning it in front of a deep, dark wall.
Green plants. Potted plants and indoor trees look even lusher when placed in front of a dark wall. The dark color recedes into the background, creating the feeling of having a mini forest in the room instead of a few plants. Bonus style points if your plants have a sculptural shape, like the topiaries shown here.
Large artwork. A single piece of oversize art hung on a dark wall has the most impact - even more than a salon-style grouping. The drama of a deep wall color draws the eye. This works especially well with artwork with a large white mat and a slim black frame.
White. If you feel at all unsure about which direction to go in with the other elements in your dark painted room, choose white — it always works. In this bedroom a charcoal wall is set off by a grouping of wall-mounted plants on white bases, white bedding and white window treatments.
Pale, watery hues. Soft and ethereal, pale aqua, mint, champagne and silvery gray bring lightness to a room with dark walls. Try these watercolor-inspired hues in bedding, a throw or pillows for an elegant feel.
Rich mustard and teal. These hues complement deep blue, gray or even dark chocolate walls by bringing in the colors of fall. Just a small touch of mustard, teal or both hues will do — try a throw, pillow covers or curtains.
Wild card pairing: brights. A flash of hot pink, neon yellow or vibrant turquoise is daring - and exciting! Brights work best with black or charcoal; adding these bold hues to a room painted another dark color (like navy or forest green) is riskier. Test out a fun color pairing with a low-cost addition like hand towels or a cluster of bright vases.
Mirrors. Dark walls in a room without much natural light run the risk of making it feel oppressive. Boost what light you have by adding mirrors - even small, decorative mirrors, like the ones shown here, can help lighten things up. If the room is very dark, add a larger mirror, either on the wall or leaning against it.
Acrylic and glass. Like mirrors, clear materials, like acrylic and glass, can help a dark space feel a bit lighter. Swap out a wood piece, like a console, for a glass or acrylic version. Or add a large glass vase filled with greenery for a quick boost.
In this living room, dark gray walls are lightened up with a glass coffee table, an acrylic TV stand, white trim and a light sofa and rug.
Rich texture. Dark walls call out for touchable textures, like velvet, silk, oiled wood and fluffy mohair. Consider a plush velvet sofa, velvet or silk accent pillows, or a mohair throw in a living room with dark walls.
Oriental rugs. Rolling out an Oriental rug is a good way to marry a daringly dark wall color with a traditional home. These carpets tend to include a range of rich, deep colors, lending them well to dark walls in just about any hue.
Antiques. As with using traditional rugs, bringing in an antique piece or two is a wonderful way to take the edge off a strong wall color. In the room shown here, dark walls look refined alongside an eclectic mix of antiques and modern Lucite chairs.