4 Ways To Handle Dark Walls

Black, maroon, navy, hunter green; Dark walls can be intriguing and tempting when trying to achieve a cozy space, but they can also go terribly wrong if done improperly. Dark walls can make any room feel smaller and cozier, but it can also make the space feel daunting, heavy and cave-like. If you are going to be bold with those weighty shades there are a few ways to go about it to avoid creating a dark abyss. 

Solution: Photo and mirror galleries, lighting, and paneling.

Random Note: One of the main reasons people stick to lighter wall colors is because it's safer and easier to live with. 

  1. Break up the darkness with a contrasting photo gallery. You could argue that photo galleries can be used in any situation pertaining to wall color, light or dark, and this is true, but the key word in this case is contrasting. Meaning, the gallery you use to break up a dark wall should be lighter, therefore adding contrast and brightening the wall without taking away from it.
    • To break up the wall simply means to place some sort of color or object (photos, mirrors, lighting, etc.) on top of the preexisting wall and essentially breaking up with the flow of color on the wall.
Below are two examples of a photo gallery breaking up a dark wall.

Notice in this bedroom how two large, nearly white, pictures are used to break up that dark blue/black section of the wall. This allows you to bring back some light into the space without taking away from the dark wall.
       2.   Use a mirror gallery to not only break up the wall but to make the space appear larger 
             and brighter. Keep in mind that dark paint will instantly make a room appear smaller, 
             this would be a great way to reintroduce the true size of the room.

In the photo below, in addition to a wall gallery above the bed, we have two very large mirrors placed above the side dressers. Placing these large pieces in front of the table lamps will reflect more light and add a feeling of openness to the space. While these aren't considered mirror galleries, they serve the same purpose.


       3.   If the dark wall is an accent wall (An accent wall (a.k.a a "feature wall") is a wall 
             whose design differs from the design of the other walls in the room. The accent wall's
             color can simply be a different shade of the color of the other walls, or have a 
             completely different design in terms of the color and material.), shine some light on it. 
             To do so, add overhead lighting that will shine directly onto the wall, or use       
             sconces.This feature not only brightens the area but creates interest where there 
             was none.

        4.   Paneling adds both interest and structure to any wall, light or dark. Imagine a smooth 
              black wall that simply goes on forever and ever like an abyss waiting to suck and drain
              its next victim. It's boring. It's stark. It's doing nothing but existing. Because dark 
              colors are normally associated with sophistication it is easy for paneling coupled with 
              dark walls to bring sophistication into any space. It's a great way to elude the abyss 

Observe the images below. Notice how what could have been bland dark walls have turned into a thing of sophistication.

The final image below incorporates both paneling and an overhead light that illuminates the dark feature wall.


So if you're one of those individuals who likes to play it safe with light colors for fear of a heavy, boring room, these are some tips that should put your mind at easy and encourage you towards the "dark side".


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