Should I paint my walls dark? The pros and cons of dark decor


dark walls railings farrow ball.JPG

I've never painted a room in my home completely dark until a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to get rid of the white walls in my office and go a full on, really dark black/blue colour. When I did a complete overhaul of the room towards the start of the year, I dipped my toe into 'the dark side' by painting the chimney breast and the adjacent wall, which was going to be a gallery wall, in a deep, dark navy colour. On the remaining two walls, I painted them a muted white with grey undertones. The reason that I did this, to be honest, was becuase I was actually scared of painting the whole room dark. I feared that if all the room was dark, it would feel enclosed, smaller, a bit 'too much' during the day while I was working in there. These were the reasons that I had never gone totally dark in any other room, and why I decided to go 'half dark / half neutral' in this one. 

So, the office, once completed a few months ago looked like this:

home office makeover
gallery wall.JPG
home office make over.JPG

The chimney breast and gallery wall are painted in Railings by Farrow & Ball. The wall where my desk is positioned and the opposite wall with the window were white.

As I lived with this scheme for a few months, I realised that I loved the chimney breast and the gallery wall, but really wasn't so keen on the wall behind my desk. The yellow artwork on the chinmey breast just popped out with the dark navy behind it, the same for the pictures on the gallery wall. The white wall behind my desk was just 'meh'. It was doing nothing for me.

When I returned from holiday with a fresh set of eyes and I looked at the space I had not lived in for a week, I decided that I was just going to paint the white walls out with the rest of the tin of Railings. I felt I was ready to take the plunge! The office now looks like this:

dark walls railing farrow ball.JPG
dark walls railing farrow ball.JPG
dark walls railing farrow ball.JPG
dark walls railing farrow ball.JPG
dark walls railing farrow ball.JPG

What do you think?

Overall I am happy with going all dark in the room. The room feels more cohesive now and I love how the gold accessories work with the dark navy. The room makes more of a statement and I enjoy being in here. However - what about the cons? I've made a list of my pros and cons of going to the 'dark side' to help you decide if it is the right thing for you in your home:

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It makes art and other objects against the walls stand out - The dark hue provides a perfect backdrop for art, photographs and other decorative items as it really highlights them and draws the eye. Going dark is therefore a really good idea for a room where you have a lot of stuff going on.

It looks better in photographs - The camera seems to love a dark wall, and will pick out the items in front of it better. Great if you are someone who loves to share pictures of their home on social media.

The dark background in the Sweetpea & Willow showroom frames the wall mirror and items on the table perfectly.

The dark background in the Sweetpea & Willow showroom frames the wall mirror and items on the table perfectly.

It works best if you also own yellow furniture or home ware - Yellow works so well with a darker hue, be it black, navy or a deep green. I love my Bird Girl artwork placed on top of a Railings background. This lovely mustard DFS armchair below also works so well with this dark backdrop:

dfs capsule collection

It makes the room feel warm and cosy - There is a whole understanding that if a room is low on light and small, you paint it white to make it feel bigger - wrong! Embrace the small dark room by painting it a dark colour. The darker walls really give a feeling of warmth and cosiness and are the perfect backdrop for a few scented candles or a roaring fire.

It's a bold and brave statement - Why be like everyone else? Be bold and dramatic with your decor! It may surprise guests or family members when they first see it, but I bet they love it once they have taken it all in.

It's not as imposing as you think it might be - I don't walk into my office and think 'whoa - that's dark', which was something that I initially had concerns about.

It hides items you would prefer to merge into the background like cables - Our office has a ton of black cables in it - computer cables, printer cables, guitar cables - they are everywhere. The black walls do erase them from view.

It covers a multitude of sins - If your walls have had things taken down and removed and holes have been filled in, the dark paint will not make those slight blemishes as obvious as other paint colour choices.

It's easier to maintain - Some newspaper print fingermarks, or a chocolate hand-print, do not show up on dark walls like they do white!

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It reduces the light - I used to work in my office in the evenings with just the desk lamp - now I need the main light and desk lamp on when it is dark outside so that I can see the room. This is fine if the room you are choosing to paint dark is for relaxing the evening, but probably not so good if you use the room for study or creative pursuits.

It will be harder to get rid of if you do change your mind - If you want to get rid of the dark, expect to have to put on two coats of white undercoat first before you can start painting over your new colour.

The space will feel smaller - Painting your room dark will make the space feel smaller. I didn't feel it so much with this office, but when I painted my kitchen cabinets a darker colour earlier this year the space instantly felt narrower. You get used to it but it is something to consider!

It's probably not a good idea if you are trying to sell up - Chances are the majority of people who walk through the door are not going to be as amazing as you and as confident in their decor choices. It's well known potential buyers are always looking for a 'bright, light space'.

You need to make sure you do a great job with the paintwork - Especially if you are painting over a light colour! Do two decent coats and then check all the walls before you put the paint tins away - chances are you may need to touch up some areas where there isn't great coverage and flecks of the previous colour can be seen. You may even need to do a third coat.

So what do you think? Have I persuaded or desuaded you for dark decor? Let me know in the comments section below! Also, if you want to see some great inspirational images of dark decor, follow my board Dark Interiors on Pinterest which includes all my favourite dark rooms.