8 Dark Color Schemes – Designers Share Their Favorite Looks


Opting for dark color combinations in your home can be nerve-wracking. Many assume the result will be dark and claustrophobic, but executing a moody color scheme the right way and the overall look can be striking, cohesive and stylish.

“Dark colors envelop a room and make it feel spongy and comforting, enveloping you in the greatest blanket,” says Abigail Ahern, a designer who really advocates using dark colors in her work. “Saturated dark hues can force you out of your comfort zone, but you become infatuated with their ever-changing tones and what they do to rooms in your bedroom. Dark hues make any room instantly cozy Everything looks cooler, bigger, smarter and more fashion-forward.

A dark interior can create a dramatic and unexpected look. “The eye is trained to expect light, bright spaces,” says stylist Sarah Inch. “When you walk into a dark space, it catches you off guard and immediately draws attention to your surroundings, adding so much more interest to a room and allowing all the furniture and decor to pop.”

Dark colors can also set the mood and give a room more presence. “Dark colors don’t always lead to smaller dark spaces,” says Becky Russell of Kingston Lafferty Design. “Combined with the right mix of textures and finishes, they quite often create comfortable, calm spaces with a moody undertone.”

According to the rules of color theory, dark colors are those with low light intensity. We’ve collected eight beautiful schemes to inspire you to go dark and bold in your own home.

What to consider with dark color combinations

It’s often assumed that dark color combinations make a space seem small, but by embracing size and going to the dark side, you can give a space greater gravitas despite its small size. Also think about the lighting and positioning of the room in the house – a dark scheme can work for a room that is usually dark. “It may seem counter-intuitive, but dark colors can be a good idea for poorly lit rooms such as a north-facing room,” says Farrow & Ball Brand Ambassador Patrick O’Donnell. “It’s because you’re playing with the limitations of natural light rather than fighting it.”

Think about associations with certain colors and the type of mood you’re looking to create. Green and blue are cool and can give a room a nature feel. Reds and dark browns can be warm and provide real comfort. Think about the qualities of color and how it will shape your interior.

1. Ink Blue

An inky blue bathroom

(Image credit: Luke Weller. Design: Mitchell + Corti Architects)

A dark inky blue is a beautiful dark and glamorous color. It can bring a sense of calm to a space and works well in a bathroom as seen in this beautiful bathroom by Mitchell + Corti Architects (opens in a new tab).

“There are few spaces where you can get away with such dark walls and bathrooms which naturally lend themselves to this as they are used for small periods throughout the day,” says Ester Corti.

If you’re worried about going completely dark, pair this shade of blue with a pop of bright color. “We used dark blue with a hint of yellow to highlight the key features of this piece. Dark blue and warm yellow are a classic and time-tested combination, they are opposites on the color wheel and as such complement each other naturally.

2. Dark Teal

A dark teal bedroom

(Image credit: Barbara Corsico Photography. Design: Kingston Lafferty Design)

Another cool color that works well in a dark tone is a low-light teal, as seen here used in a room designed by Kingston Lafferty Design (opens in a new tab). The result is both moody and sophisticated, with the monochromatic look with the painting stretching across the ceiling creating a calm, enveloping space in which to relax and unwind. “The client has a light-filled, contemporary family living space in the home extension and so we wanted this room to have a completely different feel,” says CEO Becky Russell.

“The rich tone of the walls was painted in a gloss finish over a rough plaster finish to prevent the result from looking too flat and the color and texture continuing onto the ceiling.”

Peach and oranges are colors that go with teal, and the designer used this combination in this scheme, with accents of these tones throughout the room.

3. Black

A dark anthracite living room

(Image credit: Brie Williams. Design: Lisa Sherry)

Black is a bold choice and shouldn’t be approached by the faint-hearted, but if you’re going for a dark scheme why not go all out, says designer Lisa Sherry (opens in a new tab). “A dark color palette requires commitment, not half measures,” she says. “I’m all for the black in this design.”

“In this lake house, the upper level is awash in white. I opted for all black at the bottom. This space is the go-to out of season, with the exterior blanketed in snow white. The effect is that it’s a real bold contrast and the black living room is a perfect retreat for hibernation. “A black palette is warm and cozy, it’s a great place to dig in with games and drinks by the fireplace.”

4. Burgundy

Burgundy bedroom with orange chair

(Image credit: Mary Patton)

A deep burgundy is a rich color that can look great in the home and add a touch of luxury. Its warmth of the underlying tones of red make the color feel like a big warm hug when used on walls.

This design is by Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design (opens in a new tab). “Darker colors on the walls can give the room more depth and give it a sense of sophistication,” says Mary. “The key is to keep furniture, fabrics and accessories a little brighter and airier so you don’t weigh down the burgundy.” Here Mary enlisted the help of a bright orange sofa to break up the scheme as orange is one of the colors that goes with burgundy.

5. Olive Green

A green bedroom with a matching olive green chair

(Image credit: Mary Patton)

This dark and dramatic olive green scheme also by Mary Patton really makes an impact with its colorful walls, ceiling and furniture. Olive green is a color strongly linked to nature. It is quietly uplifting and positive and can look great painted on walls, giving a real sense of peace to a room. There are also plenty of colors that go with olive green that make lovely accents to break up a dark olive space – from a light pink to a cream hue. “It also has a timeless quality and can be manipulated to create a warm and cozy ambiance,” says Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene. “Olive green suits all types of homes, from period properties to contemporary new builds.”

6. Grey-blue

A grey-blue living room

(Image credit: Romanek Design Studio, 1stDibs 50)

In this diagram by Brigette Romanek (opens in a new tab)a grey-blue living room creates a cool, moody feel, with coving and the ceiling painted in the same shade for a full monochromatic color scheme and a dark wall to give the room a focal point.

The dark coloring reflects the purpose of this space, which is all about relaxation, and the pop of greenery from the indoor tree keeps the interiors cool instead of dark.

7. Brown

Brown living room with black and white sofa

(Image credit: Shade Degges. Design: Ashe Leandro, 1stDibs 50)

Long gone are the days when brown interiors were considered dull and dreary. Brown has had a makeover and is now considered a warm color palette – rich and full of sleek 70s appeal.

There is a certain depth to a brown scheme, whether through brown paint or brown materials like wood, as seen here in this design by Ashe Leandro (opens in a new tab). Here, the darkness of the room allows the vertical striped sofa to really take center stage.

8. Light Gray

Gray living room with red curtains

(Image credit: future)

A light, ashy gray can make a room feel moody and dark, even if it’s a lighter shade. Gray was once ubiquitous in homes and was an interior design staple, loved for its versatility and harmlessness. While people are experimenting with more other shades these days, it remains a stable and ever-popular choice.

Gray is used in the home as a neutral to bring out another contrasting color, so if you want gray on the walls, choose a color that stands out and accent furniture. Greens, pinks or even a bright yellow can really lift the room, or break it up with a warm red, as seen in this gray living room. Consider which room in the house you are using a light gray in, as it will play with light and dark, casting a shadow on the walls at different times of the day.

Which pieces suit a dark color palette?

Dark color schemes are great for small transitional spaces, such as entryways or stairways, as they are narrower and smaller spaces that simply act for movement between rooms and therefore time spent in these places is limit. Dark color schemes are also great for TV or cozy rooms. “Something about dark colors and walls evokes a sense of intimacy, while bright spaces naturally feel more public and inviting,” says Ester Corti of Mitchell + Corti Architects.

Consider a bathroom for a dark color scheme, creating a feeling of luxury and care, ideal for a nice soak in the bath.

For designer Lisa Sherry, a dark color palette can work anywhere in the home, “although I have a hard time imagining a dark colored nursery,” she says. “I think almost any space can get dark, but it has to have a purpose. Intention should always precede decorating choices, so think carefully about the room and how you will use it, how often, to help you choose the dark color for you.


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