One thing we’ve heard a few times about some of the rooms we’ve worked on is “I never would think to use a colour that dark, but it really works!”. It’s true that Nick and I are big fans of making bold colour choices – deep navy or aubergine for example, and we’ve even gone so far as painting our current dining room and kitchen black. We’re not scared of these types of colours, in fact, we find them luxurious. But we know that they can be a little intimidating, especially when painting a small space. So, today we’re bringing you some tips for using these types of colours in your home, especially for small spaces!
1) Change Your Vocabulary – Stop referring to these colours as “dark”. Dark = scary nighttime bad dreams ghosts. Start thinking of these colours as “rich”, “saturated”, or “deep”. This little shift makes a big difference in the way you perceive how a colour will make the room feel. Which is the whole purpose of wall colour – to give your space a particular atmosphere. Deep colours can make a room feel cozy, warm, open, rich, luxurious, and a host of other things.
We called this room The Hug because the chocolate brown walls felt so yummy. Even though this garden view apartment with a tiny footprint had low ceilings, the rich wall colour and carefully chosen pot lighting made the space feel really cozy.
2) Make Lighting Your BFF – We often say that lighting makes or breaks a room, but this is even more true in a room with deep coloured walls. For example, the black in our dining room/kitchen works because there are three enormous west-facing windows at one end of the space that let in all the afternoon light. Think about how much natural light your space gets. If it’s a lot throughout the day, it can probably handle a deep colour on the walls. As well, you’ll need lots of points of light throughout the room. Several table lamps and maybe some wall sconces will help to make the space feel cozy in all its corners.
3) Balance With Neutrals – If you’re painting the walls a hunter green, for example, you will want to stick with neutral furniture colours like deep brown, sandy beige, and white. Add a little pop of colour with yellow accent pillows, or a great piece of colourful art that will pop against the rich wall colour.
For example, at The Nest, the bedroom was painted this deep plum colour. The colour worked because of the large window with soft white curtains, and the amount of white trim & closet doors that balanced out the plum. White bed linens, a footstool and dresser in a sandy beige, and small gold and black accents really allowed the purple to shine!
4) Bounce the Light Around – Especially when working in a small space, we use mirrors to make the room feel bigger and more open. This also helps to bounce more light around a space with a deep paint colour. Try an extra large mirror in your small bathroom, rest a mirror above the fireplace in a cozy living room, or hang a full size mirror in your tight hallway to open up the space.
The tiny (and I mean TINY) bathroom at The Nest handled navy walls brilliantly with the help of a giant mirror that took up most of one wall and a chandelier whose light was reflected all over the bathroom thanks to the mirror.
5) Consider an Accent Wall – If painting an entire space one deep colour still seems like too much, consider picking one wall and making it the focal point with a deep, rich colour. The other three walls can get painted a pale neutral to balance the accent wall. Make sure to choose the wall that is the natural point of focus when you walk into the room – usually the wall with a fireplace, or wall opposite the main entry door.
That’s not to say that we don’t love pale colours. We love an all white room, especially when paired with elements like herringbone floors, exposed brick walls, or crown molding. But we feel the need to spread the gospel of deep colours so that more spaces can feel cozy, luxurious, and warm.
Have you painted a room a deep, rich colour? We’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment, or tweet at us here.
All images by Nick