5 Smart Ways to Make Your Dark Room Feel Anything But Dreary

Go ahead, come to the dark side.

Updated 08/23/19

Ryan Garvin; DESIGN: Erica Bryen

Let’s face it: Dark walls aren’t having the best year. In a time where light and airy interiors reign supreme, the once-opulent dark, moody rooms feel a little, well, sad. After all, we were taught to always look on the bright side—and walls featuring pitch black, deep green, or midnight blue seems to miss the mark.

But just because your walls don’t instantly exude an easy, breezy feeling doesn’t mean your entire space has a one-way ticket to doomsville. Instead, check out these five smart ways to brighten up your dark room. With any luck, your place will be a far cry from dreary. 

1. Opt for an Accent Wall

Black and White Bedroom
Claire Leahy

“Taking cues from hospitality design, instead of using a single color, try color blocking with different tones. Use a dark paint color such as eggplant or even black on one accent wall and contrast it against lighter, natural toned walls. This will create a sense of drama and the ‘wow’ effect you're looking for while keeping the room from feeling too dark and enclosed.” —Stacy Garcia of Stacy Garcia, Inc.

2. Layer Up

Black Bedroom
Karyn Millet; DESIGN: Raili Clasen: PROP STYLIST: Melissa Libbey; Architecture: Eric Olsen

“Play around with mixing materials to give the space a cozy and layered feel. I love using soft textures such as shag rugs, velvet decor pillows & faux fur throw blankets paired with warm, natural woods & sleek matte finishes to create a more lively & inviting feel in a dark space.” —Stacy Garcia

3. Select Your Shade Strategically 

Contemporary Kitchen
Ryan Garvin; DESIGN: Erica Bryen

“The trick to using a dark paint color in a room is in ensuring the hue is bright and warm. If you select a color that is both dark and cool-toned, it can feel like a dark and stormy night. To keep your room feeling alive and vibrant, choose a dark color that has a warm undertone.” Breegan Jane, interior designer 

4. Create Contrast

West Hollywood Condo — Neon Sign
Mary Costa ; DESIGN: Black Lacquer Design

"To keep your space from feeling dreary, I would recommend bringing in items that will provide contrast to the dark paint. For example, in a dark painted bedroom, I would choose a bed that’s upholstered in a lighter colored fabric and dressed with white bedding. I’d bring in a few light accent pillows that have a pop of color to add energy to the space, I’d also place a vase of flowers on the nightstand to bring life to the room! Last but not least, I’d bring in some lighting to brighten the space. Create a cozy seating area with textured blankets, and I’d hang a mirror on a wall that faces a window to bounce natural light around the room." —Caitlin McBride, Decorist classic designer 

5. Light it Up

teal bedroom
Leslie Santarina

“Rooms with a lot of natural light will feel more open and balanced when painted with a moody hue. Another benefit of natural light is that it will allow the undertones in your dark paint color to come to life, whereas a room that is dimly or artificially lit may leave the color fairly indistinguishable and lifeless.Sometimes, leaning into the moody vibe with more moody lighting can really take it over the top for the right feeling!" —Erika Dale, Decorist classic designer and co-founder of Platte Interiors

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