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How to use dark paint but keep a room light

How to use dark paint but keep a room light
Give your walls a dramatic makeover and swap whites and neutrals for moodier shades that are sure to add some serious wow-factor.
With hues such as inky blues and smoky greys becoming increasingly popular interior paint choices, we are seeing a shift in trend towards using darker colours around the home.
Not only do they often create a cosier, more comforting atmosphere than some of their lighter counterparts, but they are also thought to have different psychological effects on our brains too.
A lot of richly pigmented tones have a sophisticated, almost luxurious feel to them and are a good choice for creating a welcoming an intimate interior scheme.
Making the move from light to dark can seem light a daunting decision, so we’ve compiled some top tips to ease the transition and help you pull together a stylish new look:

Know your space

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Before committing to the dark side, consider the size and shape of the room you plan on redecorating. Look at how much natural daylight the room is exposed to and decide on the mood you want to create in the space.
Before painting, always apply tester areas around the room to see how the colour changes in different lights during the day and in different parts of the room.
Don’t feel limited to only trying out tiny sample chips or a few brushstrokes—try painting A4 pieces of paper or sheets of card in your chosen shade and moving them around the room to get a clearer idea of how the colour will sit against door frames, windows and the ceiling.

Beyond the pale

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Depending on how bold you’re feeling and the size of your room, there are lots of different options when it comes to painting. Going dark on every wall can really make a statement and create a feeling of intimacy and homeliness, so is a good choice in living spaces, snugs or bedrooms.
If, however, you want to start with a smaller portion of the room first to gauge the overall look, why not begin with a feature wall or by painting an alcove in a deep shade? Try applying your chosen paint to a built-in bookcase for a subtle introduction of colour, as most will be hidden with books and ornaments and so will just allow a hint of colour through.
Alternatively, use period features in your home, such as dado or picture rails, as markers around which to decorate. Applying a deep shade below the dado rail and a crisp white above will create a striking contrast and not feel too overpowering if you are unsure or want to compromise between light and dark.

Smart styling

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Pulling together a scheme around a dark interior can really make or break the look you want to achieve. Depending on the tone of your paint, pick out accessories to complement the colour and continue to add warmth to the room.
Shades such as aubergine, indigo blue and charcoal grey can be made to look more luxurious when paired with hints of metallics—copper, brass and gold work particularly well with dark schemes, whereas silver or chrome can appear cold. Contrasting colours, such as crisp whites or neutral tones, will help balance out dark schemes so look for lighter shades in things like soft furnishings and artwork if you want to pare back the overall look.
Alternatively, mix in complementary jewel tones to fully embrace a more decadent scheme—try mustard yellows against blue walls or a deep crimson against a dark smoky grey. Natural woods with plenty of tactility will help add depth to a rich scheme—consider the tone of wood you choose as acacia or walnut has a very different finish to lighter oak or birch for example.
Introduce texture with rugs and throws to help bring the space to life and, if you’re feeling particularly opulent, invest in a velvet sofa for the ultimate finishing touch of luxury. If you want to break up large areas of dark paint, opt for a statement wall mirror to reflect light around the room and help make dark corners feel more open.

3 Of the best dark wall paints


Colour Matt

Pure grey matt emulsion paint, £10 for 2.5 litres, Wilko

Studio Green

Studio Green estate emulsion paint, £43.50 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball


Mayfair Dark No.218 marble matt emulsion paint, £42 for 2.5 litres, Mylands
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