I love the drama of a dark room. Walls painted in deep aubergine, chocolate brown, or a rich navy give off this amazing combination of glamour and coziness. To get advice on painting a space dark, I turned to celebrated color guru Donald Kaufman who understands complexities of color like no one else.
What happens to a space when you paint it a very dark color?
It immediately creates a dramatic background.
Favorite dark hue at the moment?
Deep magenta-blue, or violet. We have flowers with magenta blue violet casts in our garden and the color becomes especially intense at twilight. There is science behind it, colors that tend towards blue and violet show more intensity in dimmer light.
Do you think dark walls look better in small rooms or large ones?
They do different things in each case. The smaller the room the more important it would be to have light floors and ceilings
and possibly light trim, otherwise you create a cave effect. When a larger room is dark it sends your eye straight to the windows, rather than the walls, because of the contrast of light coming in.
Do dark colors work better in rooms that get a lot of light rooms or darker spaces?
The worst mistake is thinking a light color will brighten a dark room. Often a darker color in a dark room is what suits and aligns best with the available light in the room. If you have a sort of gloomy room and think it will always be happier in white, it won’t. The white will always look dingy. It will look as if it is waiting for a deeper color. To add light to a room, use warm colors. We perceive yellows and reds as emitting light. If colors are warmer they feel brighter and more luminous.
What finishes are best when painting the walls very dark?
The two best finishes for any paint color is the glossiest or the flattest. Anything in between doesn’t create illusions and doesn’t play with the light. The flatter the paint, the more walls recede, while shiny has specular play. Those two sheens give you the most atmospheric drama in a space.