Embrace the Dark Side at Your Home

It feels counterintuitive, but deep colors can fix a dim room.


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Entryway features Mydlands Berkeley No. 256.

Photo by Charlie Sharpley, courtesy Mydlands Paints

Everyone loves a sunny room. It’s only natural: Light is a real mood enhancer. They’re a pleasure to decorate, too. After all, a bright space makes any color look good.

The same is not true of a dim room. They can feel dull, and people avoid them if they can. But nearly all homes have a room or two that falls into this category. So how can you fix the problem?

The answer may surprise you: Make it darker.

No matter what you do, a naturally dim space will never feel sunny and bright. Painting it a light color will only emphasize this fact. The result will be a place that looks grim and dingy, even sad. So don’t fight your room’s natural inclination. Embrace it, and make it a bolder version of its prior self.

There’s a glorious array of colors on the moody end of the paint deck: luscious navys, majestic teals, even sooty blacks. And they offer some distinct advantages over their lighter counterparts. For one, they create a depth and intensity that’s not easily achieved with paler colors. Inky hues make for a lovely cocoon, one that’s both striking and rich.

Deep colors have another advantage. They brilliantly mask some of the unsightly aspects of modern life, like large electronics. No need to relegate your TV to a cabinet. A dark wall can hide it in plain sight.

Going dark doesn’t mean foregoing light entirely, either. The right materials can give even the gloomiest room its own glow. Sheen is your friend here, so be sure to pick a paint finish with a fair amount of gloss to it. Any light the walls do pick up—whether it is from sunlight or lamplight—will result in a pleasing glimmer. Consider using fabrics with a bit of luster to them too, like taffeta or silk. And don’t forget metallics: A dusky background will really set off their shine.

So why not embrace the dark side? You may decide that dim room is your favorite after all.

Sarah Coombs is an interior designer based in Alameda.

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