How to Use Dark Colors in Small Spaces

Posted on: October 11th, 2018

Conventional wisdom states that small spaces work best with light colors because they make it appear roomier. On the other hand, using dark colors the right way can add even more texture and drama to your tiny rooms.

Décor Tips for Balancing Light and Dark

One of the best ways to use a dark color in a small room is to set up a balance so the darker hue does not overpower the entire space. You want to aim for cozy, not claustrophobia-inducing.


  • Compare surface areas: Consider the area and visual impact of your dark surface, then make sure you have a roughly equivalent area in a light color. For example, this can mean confining your dark hue to an accent wall or having dark walls with light-colored furniture.
  • Texture: Airy fabrics in light tones can balance the heaviness of a dark paintjob. Think widow treatments, bedding, area rugs and more.
  • Lighting: The type and strength of the light in your dark room can play an important role. If you have a large window that provides a lot of natural light, take advantage of that. You can also create an attractive light source with a modern, streamlined fixture.

Think Outside the Box

Incorporating dark colors into small spaces effectively can mean looking beyond the conventional approach to painting. You may want to paint some of your walls, part of one wall or even just the ceiling. Contrasting trims and dramatic décor elements can further elevate and unconventional look.

Choose Your Color Carefully

Choosing the best color for the effect you want can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to experimenting with darker hues. First, select a color that harmonizes with the rest of the space’s elements such as flooring, tiling, fixtures and anything else you cannot or do not wish to change.


Second, analyze the lighting available in the room. Many dark colors reflect the lighting in ways that change together with the light, creating visual depth and interest. Pick a color that works with your room’s lighting and sets the mood you want.

Highlight and Contrast

Adding bright or reflective elements to your room provides further texture and visual impact to its dark colors. One option is to create a subtle pattern on your dark walls. A thoughtful use of texture can also help you achieve an optimal effect. Depending on your room and style goals, think about whether you want your dark paint to be glossy, matte or textured.


Mirrors and metallic accents can work well in a small dark room. For a more understated touch, go for subtle shine rather than sparkle. If you prefer a more dramatic or maximalist approach, consider elements such as an oversized light fixture or a mirror in an unusual shape.


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