Let’s bust one myth to start - painting small or dark spaces in white doesn’t magically make them feel bigger. In fact, using pale colours can actually make these smaller spaces seem more cramped and even dingy. There’s a bit of science to it, and here’s a gorgeous home just to help prove our point too.
Here’s why you should consider dark wall colours for small spaces, and some top tips for decorating them.
Alex’s @tiny_victorian_home dark paint living room is in Dark Teal ‘Adulting’ by COAT Paints is proof that small spaces love dark colours.
COAT Paints teamed up with Alex Richards, proud owner of @tiny_victorian_home, to explore how dark painted walls can work perfectly in even the smallest of spaces. Alex’s stunning period home in Cheshire is filled with the deepest, darkest colours out there - but feels everything but tiny.
Alex’s bedroom. A white ceiling can create height when the walls are a deeper tone. Dark painted rooms are now Alex's go-to.
“My friend who’s an interior designer persuaded me to be brave and try dark colours about 3 years ago” says Alex. “Eventually I did, and instantly loved it. I quickly realised the power of dark, and how transformative it can be to a home.”
The blue in Alex’s hallway feels super classy, with monochrome details that pop.
Alex admits she wasn’t always a lover of dark colours, and she’s certainly not alone. Plenty of people play it safe, thinking lighter colours ‘bounce’ light around rooms - but it can be a mistake. Darker colours feel more deliberate in small spaces, and because they absorb the light they can actually blur the hard edges of the room making it feel bigger.
Dark colours absorb light, but can actually blur the outline of a room so it feels bigger.
A firm favourite in the dark colour world right now is green. Whether it’s traditional deep green, or more modern teal shades, green has a natural affinity with darkness that plays so well with smaller spaces. COAT’s most popular shades in 2021 are all from the green spectrum - like Adulting, Ditch The Tie and The Drink. There’s no sign it’s stopping either, and we’re planning to add a few more carefully selected green shades to the COAT range this year.
Use natural materials to warm-up darker colours. Like dark Teal ‘Adulting’
Here are some Top Tips to consider when decorating smaller spaces:
- Be bold with colour: forget neutrals, and choose purposeful dark wall paint that will absorb the outline of a room and make it feel bigger. Opt for a white ceiling if you want to create height. “Dark rooms are more luxurious, they envelope you into them in their cosy warmth. I could never go back to beige!” says Alex.
- Choose multi-functional furniture: When space is tight, you need each piece to work harder. Don’t cram more in, just choose dual-purpose pieces. “My charity shop tv cabinet doubles as a toy storage cupboard for my six-year-old son” says Alex “in small spaces you have to be strategic, but it doesn't mean compromising on style.”
Alex up-cycled an old record cabinet that doubles as useful bathroom storage to banish clutter using dark paint.
- Think about lighting: You can’t always add windows, but you can impact artificial light. A single light creates one pool of light, and focuses attention in a small space. Spread lighting about with lamps and wall lights if you can, to make the room seem more balanced and spacious.
- Choose your paint type wisely: A glossy paint colour, closest to COAT's soft sheen finish, will reflect more light than your standard flat matt wall finish, so this could trick the eye into thinking you have more natural light than you actually have in your space. But be careful as a glossy paint will be less forgiving to imperfections on your walls and could accentuate, rather than hide them.
- Try a lighter accent wall: Light pinks and dusty blues can really help balance a dark painted room, sticking to muted colours that really complement your darker shade can add a bit of depth to your room and is a nice compromise if you're worried about your whole room being dark.
- Break it up: We know, we know, it can be a daunting decision so try breaking up the darker walls with accessories, artwork, mirrors, to make your walls feel a little less dark.
- Use your existing features: You don't need to only think about paint walls when opting for a darker colour. You can really make an impact by painting woodwork, chimneys and door frames a darker colour. Using a darker shade of alcoves, panelling and skirting boards can break up the expanse colour and can make your existing features pop.
Hopefully you’re now feeling suitably inspired by Alex's beautiful home filled with dark paint colours. Embrace the space and choose a deep colour you love. Painting with dark colours on walls doesn't have to be scary, it can be so impactful. You won’t regret it - we promise.