‘They’re seriously sophisticated’ – 9 dark Christmas decorating ideas for a festive look that's grown-up but cozy

Take a moody approach to festivities with these dark-colored Christmas decorating ideas – ‘tis the season to be cozy, after all…

Dark Christmas living room scheme with garland over mantlepiece
(Image credit: Soho Home)

The joy of dark-colored Christmas decorating ideas is in the moodiness they add to a scheme. Christmas decorations tend to go in four general directions: the traditional, the off-beat colorful, the Scandi-inspired neutral, and, of course, the dark and moody. Creating more of a grown-up feel, the latter is smart and sophisticated, while still feeling cozy and homely – the perfect balance for a stylish scheme, we think.

As far as Christmas decorating ideas go, then, it’s safe to say we’re fans. There are so many ways to incorporate a dark festive look into your home, from dramatic tablescapes to showstopping garlands and fabulous floral displays. And going dark doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate color – in fact, it’s encouraged by many of the designers we spoke to for this piece.

Ready to give dark Christmas decor a go? Let these rich, intense and seriously sophisticated ideas inspire you.

1. Start with dark foliage

Bouquet with dark foliage on a mantlepiece with elegant dark candlesticks in different colors

(Image credit: David Curran © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com)

A good dose of dark greenery is the perfect base from which to build your dark-colored Christmas decor scheme. This festive mantlepiece idea from Orpheus, a 17th-century Suffolk estate from luxury holiday letting agent Unique Homestays, combines leaves and red berries, building on the look with a selection of elegant dark candle holders.

It’s a decorating trick many designers turn to during the festive season. Artem Kropovinsky, founder of New York interior design studio Arsight, suggests dense and dark evergreens like spruce. ‘Try [them] with black pine cones and deep purple berries if you want to do something that’s completely different but equally festive with foliage colors,’ he says.

‘I love to work with white pine in Christmas decorating – it’s a dramatic spiky branch with pine needles that fan out,’ adds Westport, Connecticut interior designer Caroline Kopp. ‘Other foliage that lends itself to this color scheme are magnolia and holly branches, both of which have a lustrous leaf that will contrast beautifully with the dark Christmas elements.’

2. Go for green

Green living room with bookshelves draped with pine garland, string of fairy lights with green glass baubles suspended off them

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Dark and moody Christmas decor doesn’t just mean black – invest in a scheme in a deep forest green for something earthier and more welcoming. Do as this scheme by Benjamin Moore does and build the look up in layers: here, a wall painted in Topsoil (with a strip of Amazon Green) acts as a base for the pine foliage and jewel-like baubles, strung up in a line with fairy lights. The odd peppering of lighter shades like whites and beiges are like little highlights, helping to balance the look.

3. Choose on-trend burgundy

Pink and burgundy floral arrangement suspended over a dining table set up for a Christmas meal

(Image credit: Simon Bevan. Styling by Ali Brown)

Burgundy is one of 2024’s biggest color trends – so it’s no surprise that designers are looking to decorate with it in darker Christmas color schemes this year. It’s rich, luxurious, and can be vibrant – plus burgundy and pink is a beautiful pairing for an unconventional decorating scheme (check out the flower cloud above from London floral design studio Cosmos&Plums for proof).

You can use it more traditionally, too, in place of red. ‘Burgundy is a beautiful and seasonally appropriate dark color with which to decorate for Christmas,’ says Louisville, Kentucky-based interior designer Bethany Adams. ‘Paired with a deep forest green, you have a sophisticated take on the traditional red and green holiday combo.’

4. Incorporate luxe finishes

Marbled baubles in earthy tones suspended off branches in a vase

(Image credit: Ferm Living)

Decorating with dark colors at Christmas has plenty of benefits, but one of its drawbacks is that schemes can feel a little flat, if you’re not careful. Luckily there’s an easy workaround to this: pay attention to details like texture and finish to add layers to your decorating scheme. It could be marble-effect baubles in deep, earthy tones, like those from Ferm Living, pictured above, or a tree decoration with a glossier finish that adds a touch of shine.

‘Luxurious materials for dark Christmas decor include velvet and silk ribbons wound through your greenery, a few strategic hits of glittery faux branches or greenery, and luxe mirrored glass ornaments,’ says Caroline Kopp. ‘Find cozy black sheepskins, deep jewel-toned cashmere throws, and luxury wrapping paper in complementary tones for the presents at the bottom of the tree to complete the look.’

5. Employ a dramatic garland

A living room with Christmas decor and layered fabrics

(Image credit: Soho Home)

No festive decor scheme is complete without a Christmas garland over the mantlepiece or up the staircase – especially if you’re going for a darker palette. As well as incorporating the greenery we’ve already discussed, these pieces are a chance to create a truly luxe centerpiece filled with color and texture – as this example from Soho Home shows.

It’s something Bethany Adams uses often in her schemes. ‘I love dried boxwood or magnolia garlands, decorated with green velvet ribbons and burgundy accents in glass or feathers for elegant contrast,’ she says. ‘White fairy lights add that magical sparkle at night and are invisible in your greenery display in the daytime.’

6. Consider a dark table setting

Table set up for a meal with dark tablecloth and plates

(Image credit: Carolina Irving & Daughters)

Your Christmas table decor should form part of your overall scheme, so peppering a dining setup with dark colored plates and jewel-like glassware is all part of the experience. Olympia and Ariadne Irving, of homeware store Carolina Irving and Daughters, often turn to a darker palette when it comes to setting their own festive table.

‘When we set a table for the festive season, it’s about layering,’ they explain. ‘Maybe we choose a plate that feels more festive, but the tablecloth will be a little bit more muted: last year, for example, we set green plates on a white tablecloth with dark pink embroidery. Then we can add in tinsel or ornaments. We migrate towards colours that feel cozier and more wintry, so often the plates will be in a darker base color to create a mood that feels warm and enveloping.’

7. Use jewel colors

Paper bauble decorations in jewel tones on the floor next to a velvet sofa in a dark gray living room

(Image credit: Pooky)

For those who lean towards colorful Christmas schemes rather than more muted blacks and greys, jewel colors – like those displayed in this scheme by British lighting brand Pooky, who are making their way stateside in 2024 – are a perfect way to tap into the dark festive decor trend without losing your sense of personality. 

A general rule of thumb is to opt for the deepest, richest version of your preferred shades, though the designers we spoke to have some favorites of their own. For Artem Kropovinsky, it’s blue and reds. ‘Opt for deep shades such as violet-blue and burgundy along with lighted antique gold or bronze to establish a royal, lavish Christmas color scheme,’ he says.

‘For a "dark Christmas" palette I love a deep eggplant paired with rich deep peacock green – these colors look fantastic together with pine greenery,’ adds Caroline Kopp. ‘If you want more color you could include some hits of mustard tones, and if you want to go darker then add in some black ribbons.’

8. Go big on lights

Dark living room with Christmas tree covered in gold beaded decorations and lights, with dramatic green foliage garland over mantlepiece

(Image credit: David Lawson Design)

Christmas lighting ideas play a big part in a dark Christmas decor scheme – without them, the whole thing can feel a bit flat. For this scheme by David Lawson, a UK-based designer who specializes in show-stopping Christmas decor installations, there was no such thing as too many lights: they look magical set against a dark Christmas tree and foliage, and help to bring the reflective gold baubles and tree decorations to life.

9. Use fruit and veg

Christmas table decorated with dishes of fruit and leafy veg, dark wine glasses and white tablecloth

(Image credit: Ferm Living)

A bit of a left-field suggestion, sure – but those in the know are placing groceries front and center in their Christmas tablescapes this year. Dark, leafy vegetables and glossy, deep-hued fruits make a stand-out feature for a festive setup. ‘I decorate with fruit in the winter because there’s not much by way of seasonal flowers and it feels less wasteful: guests can help themselves and you can put the rest into a crumble,’ cookery author Skye McAlpine told us recently. ‘Piles of pears, apples, pomegranates and grapes look Caravaggio-esque: last year, I got quite into decorating them with squares of gold leaf. And then sweets, I think, look really nice: dates stuffed with walnuts, candied peel, little piles of chocolate gold coins.’

Ellen Finch
Deputy editor (print)

Ellen is deputy editor of Livingetc magazine. She cut her teeth working for sister publication Real Homes, starting as features editor before becoming deputy editor. There, she enjoyed taking a peek inside beautiful homes and discovered a love for design and architecture that eventually led her here. She has also written for other titles including Homes & Gardens and Gardeningetc. While she gets ready to buy a house of her own, she takes inspiration from the works of some of her favourite architects and tastemakers. She has a particular passion for green design and enjoys shopping small, local and second-hand where she can.