Enjoy dramatic design at home by decorating with darker colours

Using darker shades of paint, wallpaper and accessories may feel like a risky move, but a few tricks will help you confidently decorate with dark colours

kitchen with kitchen units worktops and bar stools
(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

When it comes to wall colours, we might automatically reach for the light neutral paints and wallpapers in the DIY shop because we imagine that they are more versatile as a base for decorating. However, when it comes to updating your home, there's really no reason to be afraid of the dark. In fact deep, moody and dramatic hues can create beautifully sophisticated and luxurious living rooms, bedrooms and even kitchens areas, and should never be dismissed out of hand. Although instinctively we might think that midnight blues, gunmetal greys, forest greens or opulent purples are colder and make spaces feel smaller, that is not actually the case; if used on all four walls, darker colours actually perform a visual trick and make a room feel bigger. Done well, they also have a cosy, cocooning feel that makes a space feel more welcoming and comfortable than cooler colours might.

Whether it's plain paintwork or patterned wallpaper and fabrics, dark decorating can make a strong base for brighter coloured accessories, light furniture and metallic accents -  the contrast between colourways really makes the lighter shades pop to become a feature or focal point of a room. Additionally, layering dark coloured textures, from the carpet or glossy flooring upwards, provides even more depth, and this type of tactile scheme makes for a really rich luxe look. Don't just take our word for it - see for yourself! These schemes should convert even the most ardent minimalists out there...

1/13 Go dark with paint

boutique style bedroom with hotel style lighting with grey wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jonathan Gooch)

Boutique-hotel style is only a paint pot away. So why not take your bedroom from ordinary to amazing with a dark-grey wall colour? Wall-mounted lights, the black and white artwork and stylish round bedside tables all add to the luxurious, well-planned feel. With comfort like this at home, who needs an expensive getaway?

Similar paint
Farrow & Ball
Similar cushions
K Living

2/13 Use tiles from floor to ceiling

cafe lido bathroom decorating with darker colurs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jo Bridges)

Monochrome schemes can be really powerful. When you break it down, this room is quite simply decorated, but the overall look is anything but. The floor-to-ceiling tiles are the key, as they create a great backdrop to the fabulous bath. The fact that they have been mounted in a diamond shape, rather than as squares also adds to the effect. A hit of red is the perfect finishing touch.

Victorian Plumbing
Similar tiles
Topps Tiles

3/13 Tone your blues

living room with teal occasion chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Coordinate your wall paint with your furniture to create a beautiful scheme that's rich in colour. Choose opulent pieces upholstered in velvet for an indulgent space you'll want to rush to in those delicious moments of downtime. Here, the wall colour is the darkest shade of all, which lets the furniture stand out. A small splash of pattern stops everything from blurring together, and offers a beautiful contrast.

Cushion fabric
Emily Burningham

4/13 Pick an earthy palette

earthy bedroom decorating with darker colurs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Michael Sinclair)

Let nature provide all the inspiration you need for decorating with darker colours. Wood cladding on the wall marks a departure from paint, and the variation in tones provides a less one-dimensional appearance than block colour. The pièce de resistance is the headboard, which adds a dose of pattern to the space, while picking out all the earthy colours of the bedding.

Bespoke headboard
The Dormy House
Headboard fabric
Commune for Christopher Farr Cloth

5/13 Sit in sophistication

living room with teal sofa and brass accessories

(Image credit: Future PLC/Damian Russell)

Create a characterful space with standout furniture. This supersized teal sofa is unlikely to go unnoticed, especially when teamed with shiny brass accessories and furnishings in eye-catching modern designs. Darker colours go beautifully with metallic finishes, and the warm tones of brass look great here. Black shutters add another striking element to the scheme.

Similar sofa
Barker & Stonehouse
Similar rug

6/13 Luxuriate in print

modern blue bedroom with tropical print wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/Paul Raeside)

Bring some jungle fever into your bedroom with a daring print in bold blue. The design evokes the twilight hours, when everything is beginning to go calm at the end of the day, making it very appropriate for the bedroom. Dark colours on the headboard and bedding keep the look grounded, while silky bedding adds to the luxurious feel.

Casamance at Wallpapers of Distinction

7/13 Bathroom

monochrome bathroom with marble stone flooring and black freestanding bath tub

(Image credit: TBC)

Dramatic looks can be subtle. If this sounds like a contradiction in terms, just check out this beautiful bathroom scheme, which oozes character, while remaining deliberately neutral. A big black bathtub is all this space really needs to add interest, but the stunning black lines of the marble flooring take the look to another level. We like the dark finish of the taps, too.

Similar bath
CP Hart
Similar marble flooring
Mandarin Stone

8/13 Cosy up with purple

purple hallway with display cabinet floral patterned curtain and log basket

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Scott)

Decorating with darker colours is not all about architectural modern looks - country schemes can get in on the action, too. In this pretty hallway, intense purple creates a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. A blue leaf-print curtain livens things up, giving the space an injection of brightness and pattern. Blue and purple are close neighbours on the colour wheel, which gives this scheme a harmonious feel.

Similar paint
Farrow & Ball
Similar log basket

9/13 Shine on with metallics

dark blue kitchen with brass panel

(Image credit: Future PLC/Damian Russell)

Dark colours make a big statement, especially in places where you don't expect to see them, such as the kitchen. Burnished brass finishes add a brightening and lightening effect, especially on the stylish mirror-like panel. In contrast to the polished look of the metallics, the wooden flooring has been left unvarnished, which stops the scheme from looking 'overdone'.

Similar paint
Little Greene
Similar tray

10/13 Hang a striking wallpaper

living room with blue velvet chase and pictorial mural

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katya de Grunwald)

Use pattern if you want to decorate with darker colours, but don't want the 'solid' appearance of a block hue. Prints with a tiny amount of neutral shading on them are a great way to introduce a bit of lightness. Nature-inspired designs are ideal for creating a relaxing environment - place a chaise longue in front of your paper or mural and you'll never want to leave!


11/13 Choose gunmetal tones

grey kitchen with worktops bookshelves and bar stools

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

Neutral colours hold a lot of appeal in kitchen schemes right now, and grey shades are no exception. And while white will show up every dirty finger print, gunmetal greys are a lot more forgiving - which is a bonus for those who don't want to be attached to their cleaning cloths. Handleless units add a modern feel, along with the sizeable island, exposed-bulb pendants and stainless-steel surfaces.

Similar kitchen units
DIY Kitchens
Similar worktops
GEC Anderson

12/13 Add bold accents

monochrome dining room with grey wall bright red dining chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Wreford)

Use dark grey as a smart backdrop to brightly coloured accents. In this room, vibrant reds have been precisely matched, which creates a cohesive-looking scheme. Spindleback chairs provide the largest proportion of the colour hit, but the picture-frame borders and table lamp spread the red shade further afield. White paint around the windows maximises the daylight flowing through.

Similar table lamp

13/13 Keep it simple

modern kitchen with black painted shaker style cabinetry

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nicholas Yarsley)

Unsure of using dark colours all over your room? Then go for a slightly less daunting approach to decorating with dark hues by painting your kitchen units black and keeping the rest of the scheme white. White worktops create a brightening effect, while gently veined marble tiles add richness to the walls. This scheme just goes to show that you don't have to use dark colours all over to achieve a stylish look.

Similar marble
Mandarin stone