By Hebe Hatton
Dark living room ideas are only increasing in popularity. Once reserved for old houses with high ceilings and opulent decor, these moody, dramatic hues have gone mainstream, gracing the walls, floors and ceilings of homes of all shapes and sizes. These inky hues are everywhere, so naturally, we wanted to pull together all our favorite dark rooms that are sure to tempt you to leave behind your love of neautrals and try something a little darker.
Dark living room ideas
'There are plenty of ways to create drama and add depth to a space when using dark colors. Before decorating a space, I always start by considering the natural light. In this case, it is really important to figure out whether the room is south-facing or north-facing.' advises designer Kelly Wearstler.
'South-facing rooms tend to get a warmer light, which means some colors can show up a bit on the yellow side. To counteract this, I recommend using a dark color with a cool base. Meanwhile, north-facing rooms are a lot darker. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t use a dark color for decorating! Dark colors are a great way to create a cozy space, just use a dark color with a red base to add some warmth to the room.'
From dark greys, forest greens, and everyone's favorite, navy blues, all of these living rooms prove that dark colors can work with all style, in any sized room. In a small living room they have a lovely cocooning effect, that contrary to popular interior design beliefs, can make a space feel bigger. And in larger living rooms, dark walls have an elegant feel, especially when paired with opulent decor and gold accents. So we say it's time to move on from all-white walls and grey furniture and test out some of these sumptuous dark living room ideas...
1. Go all over with a dark petrol blue
Painted ceilings have been a trend for years now, no longer need they be painted some version of white, treat them like you would your other walls and paint them to match. There's a tendency to keep ceilings light as this is a well-known trick for making ceilings appear higher, but in fact, matching dark walls to a dark ceiling blurs the boundaries of the room and creates the illusion of taller ceilings.
2. Make color pop against a dark living room wall
Dark walls accentuate color more than white ever would, so despite their deeper hue, shades like dark grey and navy blue work wonderfully in a colorful living room scheme. Splashes of bold color or even a stark white will create a lovely contrast and lift a dark living room.
'Darker colors act as a great backdrop behind a bright contemporary painting or antique tapestry, making pieces stand out dramatically - so think about where your most treasured and stand-out piece of art is, and use a dark wall to make it pop.' recommends Kelly Wearstler.
3. Reflect light with a silvery dark grey living room
Grey living rooms are a classic but opting for a steely, silvery grey paint with a slight gloss finish is a fresh, stylish take. And paired with brown? It shouldn't work but the warmer tones of the sofa and rug in this dark living room add a softness to the otherwise all-grey space.
4. Blend built-in storage into the walls
Be inspired by this fabulous modern home in Stockholm and blend built-in storage and shelves into the wall by matching the color to the walls. Again, the dark grey shades provide the perfect backdrop for books and decor, plus is a really easy way to make a TV less of an obvious feature in a living room too.
5. Play with pattern
How fabulous is this dark blue living room? Despite sticking to an almost monochrome color pallette there's so much pattern and texture going on to create a very cool, eclectic feel. Going all over with the very deep blue adds drama and atmosphere to the room and the mix of animal prints brings even more eccentric glamour while also giving the space a lift.
6. Mix black walls with gold accents
Black and gold are an iconic color duo and we love the opulent, often slightly gothic vibe they both bring to a room. In this dark living room, the dark walls, ornate gold mirror and chandelier, plus all the taxidermy going on certainly nod to the Victorian gothic style but the fresh white used for the ceilings and the floorboards, plus the simple contemporary design of the rest of the furniture make this room feel fresher and more liveable.
7. Embrace the trend for dark green living rooms
Green living rooms are having a bit of a moment right now. We are seeing more sage, olive, and emerald spaces than we are grey and we are being drawn in by these mood-lifting tones. A deep, velvety forest green can be a great choice if you want to create a dark living room. Not as intense as a charcoal grey or as obvious as a deep blue, a green adds depth and intrigue, plus you can tone down the dark side if paired with the right colors too – case in point in this living room with the lovely blush pink and white.
8. Expand a small living room with dark colors
While it may be a truth universally acknowledged that light colors expand small spaces, as this small living room proves, the same can be said about dark colors. Going for a dark paint on the walls and ceiling blurs the edges of the space making it appear larger, plus you create a very sophisticated but cozy atmosphere that's perfect for a living room.
As Kelly Wearstler says, 'I always say, just because a room is small, does not mean it needs to be white or light - don’t be afraid to use dark, moody tones in a smaller room. Darker colors can have a beautiful impact, and make a room seem larger and full of character.'
9. Bring together deep rich tones
Dark living room ideas aren't all about greys and blues, there are a plethora of rich warm toned shades that create just as dramatic (if not more) spaces. The deep burgundy tones used on the ceiling and plum shade of the carpet in this living room create such a cozy, eclectic space full of personality and quirk.
10. Paint a ceiling a moody hue
Want to just dip your toe into dark interiors? A feature wall is an obvious choice, but feature walls can look a bit blah, especially with a dark color because it will look so stark against white walls. So instead of a feature wall, paint a feature ceiling in a deep hue. See how this dark living room still feels very neutral and fresh with crisp white walls and pale wooden furniture but the dark ceiling brings the drama without totally overwhelming the room.
11. Match furniture to the walls
A monochrome scheme makes a dark living room extra dramatic. Choose a single color and bring in a few different shades to create a really enveloping space with lots of layers and textures. Take inspiration from this space and pair a deep grey/blue wall with matching soft furnishings, just be sure to add lots of tactile fabric, as can be seen here with the velvet, the fringing, and drapes; it's this mix of textures that are going to add interest to the room.
Our guide to the best sofas of the year has plenty of seating options that come in a wide range of upholstery options to make toning your furnishings in with a deep dark wall color easier.
12. Go for a soft jet black
Going all over with a jet black might sound intense, but in the right space, with the right black it's not as a statement as it sounds. Example; this black living room, with its high ceilings, wall-to-wall bookshelves and large mirror, the dark hue doesn't seem intense at all. It's helped by the fact it's a very soft black and it's paired with pops of color, plus by painting every surface black there's a very modern feel, despite the period features.
'If you want to make it look really modern though you shouldn't pair it with white which will be too high contrast.' says Kate Watson-Smyth a.k.a Mad About The House. 'Paint the woodwork to match - this will make your walls look taller and your ceilings higher. In the same way you don't wear a white top with everything in your wardrobe, don't default to white woodwork when you have spent so much time and money searching for the right color for your walls,'
13. Bring in brown tones
Yes, brown tones. Bitter chocolate, warm toasty espresso, deep sandy shades are having a revival and have shed their 70s skin and become a very stylish hue that's perfect for adding warmth and depth to a living room. Pick your shade carefully however as it's a tricky color to get right, make sure you order swatches so you can test it out in your space. And think about what colors you will pair it with so you can look out for the right undertones.
Here Farrow & Ball London Clay, a deep plum-toned brown is made even more purple by being paired with purple throw cushions.
14. Paint the floor
If you can't part with your neutral walls, add deeper tones on the floor. If you have wooden floors, paint them in a darker color to contrast those pale walls and take the color onto the woodwork too, as seen in this dark living room, for a really cohesive look. If you don't have wooden floors or don't want to commit to painting them, try a larger area rug in a dark color or pattern for a similar effect.
15. Add jewel tones to a dark living room
Rich tones complement dark walls in this modern rustic living room, adding warmth to the cool-toned blue/grey and enhancing that cozy, cocooning feel. The deep reds in the Persian rugs break up all the blue too, creating the perfect amount of contrast and mixing in some traditional style with the rest of the minimalist, contemporary pieces.
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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