15 Mindblowing Ways To Make Dark Interiors Come Alive

House Beautiful featured a dynamic home based around rich French design. The house belongs to Annie Brahler whom is an obvious collector of fine French furniture. She shares a love like most of us for French furnishings, and it is so exciting to see what another collector has done with her home.  Most of the house is based in whites, except a few rooms.

See my other post “5 Darn Good Tips For A Richer Looking Home” I show more of the home, particularly the white based rooms and what you can do to get the look.

Dark based rooms can appear exceptionally rich.  Here are a few tips to capturing a very wealthy appearance with dark interiors. 

– Exceptional interiors feature drop dead georgeous furniture. Not everyone has a million bucks to play with, so get creative with the furniture you have. In this photo, you can see the walls, floors and furniture is painted a rich gray.  The piano isn’t particularly expensive, but painted in the exact same color gives it a very dramatic appearance.  Consider painting the furniture in the same color as the walls, but adding some polyurthane to the furniture so it doesn’t take on the appearance of a chalkboard when touched.  Minwax produces a wonderful polyurthane in a satin that I have used for several years.  You can also buy it in a gloss.  It works great on dark furniture.

– Remember less is SOOOOO much more!  Have you ever walked into a room that has dozens of knick nacks?  Or walked into a antique store that had way way way to much to look at?  You tend to not want to look at anything!  Pair down your accessories, and invest in a few quality pieces.

– My brother makes fun at how many chairs we have in our home.  In some respects, chairs are rather afforable, and you can dress them up with paint, appliques, and upholstery.  They can be customized for your interior, so I tend to line them up on a wall, or feature them in a bedroom. In the past I have bought several dining sets, only to get rid of the table, and use the chairs.  Float your furniture in the center of the room and line up the chairs along the wall.

– Round dining tables can be used as demi lunes when cut them in half and anchor them to the wall.  Focus on tables that have great leg detail.  They always can be dressed up with paint and decorative ormolu.

– Gold makes everything richer, especially in dark interiors.  Mirrors or gold furniture tend to carry the light while dark painted walls eat up the light.  Crystals, mirrors, brass, silver, white frames, brightly painted abstract art all are great choices for very dark rooms.

Seriously re-think painting your interior dark if you don’t have enough windows.  A few years ago, I loved the look of an interior based on a rich navy blue color scheme that I found featured in a magazine so I jumped on the decision to paint our living room in a rental we were staying at.  After spending the money on the paint, and painting the entire room, I realized that the one floor to ceiling sliding french door wasn’t enough light to carry off such a dark color.  We lived with the color for two days, and spent more money on covering the walls with yellow. Dark rooms really need to have lots of brigher accessories, and windows with lots of natural light to carry dark walls.

– The best dark interiors are those which have dark glossy walls, and are then covered up with dozens of art work or prints.  Consider lining up dozens of pencil sketches on aged ivory linen paper.  Biotanical prints, or aged sketches which could mimick a lighter colored wall when hung.  This also gives off a grand effect of master layering, because often times it is darker colored paintings on lighter colored walls.  Add in some brass wall lighting to illuminate the details of the painting.

-Collect antique books which you can display on a book shelf.  In this photo, bright red antique books are bound with natural twine.  Add the color with antique books.

-Choosing furniture that is upholstered in the same color tones as your walls.  If your walls are navy, consider purchasing a antique chair that could be upholstered in faux navy leather.   In this photo we see a mid century Herman Miller chair upholstered in black.  The painting in this photo adds rich color to the room.

– If you look at the photo of Annie Brahler’s sons room, the ceiling is painted a slightly ligher hue than the walls.  Consider painting the ceiling a rich metal in the darker range of colors.  If your room is designed around dark greens, consider some metallic paint in green for the ceiling.

In this photo, you can see how antique books provide the color for the walls.  Floor to ceiling bookcases are painted in black, giving this room a powerful look.  A heavily distressed table and white upholstered furniture provide the much needed light.

– Here is an exceptional example of a dark interior done right.  The walls, and bookshelves are painted in the same color tone.  A gloss is used for the floors in the same paint color.  The effect looks minimal because the colors all work together.  Consider using a slightly lighter color for the floor.  USE gloss somewhere in the room, either on the floors or the ceiling.  The reflective nature acts like light.

– Consider basing one room around a dark interior, while the adjoining room in a lighter based paint tone.  In this room, a paneled wall carries the black painted wall quite nicely.  In the next room, the white brings an added break to the eyes.

-Consider layering in rich lacquered furniture.  Wouldn’t this Jacques Dubois cabinet look amazing against a eggshell red painted wall?

Look at this interior where panelled drapes hang from the wall.  If your room is based around rich blues, consider hanging rich silk panels in peacock blue with gilt wood pictures layered on top of it.  Perhaps the frames can be hooked on to a chain that hangs from the top of the wall, which saves you from puncturing the fabric.

See more of Annie Brahler‘s home in House Beautiful.

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