Don’t be afraid of the dark side
Dark colours can be a little intimidating for home decorators. Nobody wants to be left with a gloomy, depressing or unwelcoming room. But to avoid dark colours completely is to miss the opportunity to really inject personality and drama into a room. The range of dark colours now available from Resene offers much more than merely black or charcoal. Colours like Resene Jaguar or Resene Woodsmoke are darks that come with a new twist, whether it’s an undertone of blue, green or brown, that can make your room evocative, interesting and inviting.
Decorating with these dark, twisted colours can be make entering a room as enticing as that smell of warm bread coming out of the kitchen. The trick lies in layering with tones and textures and trying bold contrasting colours with your furnishings so the whole room really pops.
No room is too small
The number one ‘rule’ that can be broken is that you shouldn’t use dark colours in small rooms. Not true. It may depend on what you use the room for, and how it is lit but dark colours won’t automatically make a small room feel claustrophobic.
Colours such as Resene Element actually have a cool base which makes the walls recessive; more of a dramatic background to showcase your furnishings, rather than dominating the space.
If you’re particularly nervous about going for a twisted dark shade on the walls, think about trying the smallest room — the bathroom — first. It’s a space that’s prime for experimenting as it’s not a centrepiece room, if you change your mind it’s a small room to repaint and a white toilet and hand basin will contrast perfectly with moody colours. An interestingly decorated bathroom will always be a talking point for guests.
All for one
One way to use dark and dramatic shades to give a sense of space to a living area or bedroom is to really commit to one shade. If you can, match your couch and armchairs to the shade of your walls and use variations of the tone in your other decorations and furnishing, with a pop of lighter contrast in a shade.
Try a dark colour on the walls with a closely matching couch, and then add layers of similar shades on a painted table top or shelves. Add curtains in similar shades and cushions in a mix of matching and contrasting colours. By keeping a room largely to shades of one colour it gives it a cohesiveness that implies size and space and allows you to showcase some of the features of the room, such as decorative ceilings or polished wood floors, or a piece of art.
Adjust the contrast
Adding contrasting colours around an evocative dark wall shade can be the thing that takes a room from interesting to wow.
Try smoky brown Resene Ironsand with dusky pinks or olive greens. Use these colours as highlights to emphasise the wall colour, think mirror frames, shelves, or even skirtings and ceilings. Then take these colours into your soft furnishings such as cushions, rugs and curtains.
Another great colour combination to try is subtly green-toned shades with contrasting gold room decoration.
If going completely dark and twisted still seems too daunting you could opt for a lighter shade of dark, which will still reflect your personality. A deep grey will still add a bold feel to a room while working more easily with softer shades.
Other tips and tricks
■ As a rule keep bold or fussy patterns to a minimum so the colours are the talking point of the room, rather than competing with another bold idea.
■ Most of these dark shades work well with bold jewel tones that go with their undertones like buttery golds, emerald greens and deep pinks. Colours and fabrics, particularly on-trend velvet, will add an inviting sense of warmth comfort and luxury.
■ If you’re worried about a room being too dark, try large mirrors to reflect more light.
■ Dark, leafy plants and flowers are another excellent way to add and change colours and textures to dramatic rooms.
Dark tones are the perfect way to turn any room into an exotic, warm and inviting oasis — and who doesn’t want a cosy haven to come home to.
In this project by Kate Alexander, deep-blue Resene Indian Ink I teamed with R. Midwinter Mist and R. Teal Blue.
Left, pair deep grey with lighter hues for spring palette, with Resene Nocturnal, R. Poet and R. Moonbeam. Project by Kate Alexander.