5 of best dark colors to paint small rooms, as chosen by designers – 'they'll make them feel bigger, and ceilings higher'

Color experts and designers reveal the best dark colors for small rooms that blend style with comfort

the best dark colors for small rooms; black living room with curved armchair by Urbanology Designs
(Image credit: Urbanology Designs/Matti Gresham)

It might feel counterintuitive to paint a small room a dark color, but deep hues can add depth, drama, a sense of luxe, and an enveloping coziness to a bijou space. And, as well as being a design statement, dark colors can also work to make a small room look bigger.

'Dark colors can help to create an illusion of a larger room or higher ceilings,' agrees Helen Shaw, a color expert from Benjamin Moore. 'So when painting smaller rooms, consider ditching pale hues and embrace a dark color scheme as this cleverly absorbs the light of a space, making the division between walls appear blurred. 

'This ‘blurred edges’ effect not only creates instant character, but also adds depth and dimension to a room, making the space appear larger as well as maximizing the warmth and coziness of smaller and more enclosed rooms.'

Convinced that the paint ideas you should be looking at for small rooms are actually dark? Here's 5 paint colors interior designers love for cocooning, cozy spaces.

1. Behr Cracked Pepper

a room painted in a dark grey black wall paint

(Image credit: Behr)

Cracked Pepper is Behr's Color of the Year 2024, and proves that black is firmly entrenched as a new go-to neutral in modern interior design, having previously been a color many wouldn't consider for their home.

This soft black is ideal for a small room as it's lighter than a pure black, which adds warmth to a space, creating a cosseting, cozy vibe perfect for a small living room (as above) or small bedroom.

Designer Dan Mazzarini, Principal and Creative Director of BHDM Design and ARCHIVE by Dan Mazzarini, used Cracked Pepper (which is available from The Home Depot) in the small bedroom below.

black bedroom in Behr cracked pepper by BHDM Design

(Image credit: BHDM Design/Genevieve Garrupo)

'Where you can put white, you too can put black,' he says. 'Pair it with rich browns, burgundies, or forest green to layer an interesting vibration into your space. Black is also great as the star of the show. Think about it: a piano in the corner of a living room is the scene stealer.'

'This soft charcoal black is a great way to make that statement, but a bit softer than black,' he adds. 'Also, consider a matte finish which is a bit more subtle than glossy black.'

2. Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore

dark living room by Urbanology Designs

(Image credit: Urbanology Designs/Matti Gresham)

Described as a 'a blackened shade of green that permeates any space with a sense of reassurance', Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore is a go-to for professionals to create a design-driven space that's enveloping and snug at the same time.

Ginger Curtis, CEO and founder of Urbanology Designs, used for a beautiful green living room to create an inviting space in which to relax that contrasts the dining area.

'The color is a rich and moody black with deep undertones of green that creates a dramatic first impression when you walk into the room,' Ginger tells us. 

3. Benjamin Moore Blue Nova

small living room in Benjamin Moore Blue Nova

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Benjamin Moore's Color of the Year for 2024 is Blue Nova, a rich hue that will add interest and warmth to any small room with its deluxe and moody blend of blue and violet.

Not quite as dark as other shades on this list, it's a great option for anyone that hasn't used a deeper hue before and wants to dip their toe into the water. It works wonderfully as an accent piece or when painting ceilings and walls the same color

'Blue Nova is amazing in a color-drenched room,' says Andrea Magno, color expert at Benjamin Moore. 'We love it in a space where every surface is painted in the same color with variations on sheen to create subtle differentiation.'

'Blue Nova also works very well as an accent,' she adds. 'A room painted in White Dove OC-17 would look amazing with a ceiling painted in Blue Nova, bringing that otherworldly sensibility to the space.' 

Or try it as part of a two-tone wall to add interest to your living room, as above.

4. Little Greene Chocolate Color

brown bathroom in Little Greene Chocolate Colour

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Saturated, earthy browns are top of the paints colors for 2024 list, and a beautiful chocolate hue makes for a tasty - and inviting - small room.

'Rich, chocolate browns are perfect for creating restful spaces that bring comfort to the home and envelop a space,' says Ruth Mottershead. 'They work wonderfully as an alternative where you might previously have considered black, charcoal or a dark blue, bringing a restful and warm atmosphere to an interior.'

Ruth adds that dark brown also works well with natural materials, creating an organic luxe look that never dates. 

'Beautifully complemented with textural elements such as wood and clay finishes, muted linens and tactile surfaces, comforting Chocolate Colour will create an intimate and inviting space in which to relax and unwind,' she says. 

5. Benjamin Moore Ashland Slate 1608

dark blue living room in Benjamin Moore Ashland Slate by Devon Grace Interiors

(Image credit: Devon Grace Interiors/Dustin Halleck)

Mirroring the organic nature of slate, this saturated blue-grey is a rich, deep shade that's tranquil yet impactful.

Devon Wegman, design director and founder of Devon Grace Interiors, worked it to great effect in a petite living space in Chicago.

'Ashland Slate is a moody, medium grey with blue undertones,' she says. 'The cooler tones compliment warm, earthy colors, balancing a space out nicely, which is important to do when making a room dark and bold.'

Is black a good color for a small room?

Short answer? Yes, black is a good color for a small room. Once seen as too overpowering for many, black has taken on a certain caché in modern interior design in recent years.

Some designer favorites? Eddie Maestri, Principal, Maestri Studio, utilizes Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black for many of his small-space projects, while Urbanology Designs' Ginger Curtis has a few favorites she shared with us.

She says: 'Inkwell by Sherwin Williams is a go-to black paint color. It enhances the warm and enveloping feel of the bedroom below with its subtle blue undertones.'

black bedroom, small black bedroom by Urbanology Designs

(Image credit: Urbanology Designs/Matti Gresham)

And Devon Wegman, of Devon Grace Interiors, often turns to black paint to give small rooms depth and drama. 

She says: 'Benjamin Moore Onyx 2133-10 is a rich, true black that doesn't pull warm or cool and creates a truly dramatic backdrop for any color or finish layered with it.'

Another favorite? 'Benjamin Moore Black Ink 2127-20 (seen in the powder room below). It's a true black that creates the perfect neutral moody backdrop. It doesn't pull warm or cool either, so works really well with any colors layered in the space with it.'

black powder room by Devon Grace Interiors

(Image credit: Devon Grace Interiors/Dustin Halleck)

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.