Right now, around the country, we’re seeing a rash of bruised shins and bumps on heads. The reason? Interiors injuries caused by knocking your legs on the edge of coffee tables or bumping into walls (more of that later) – all thanks to the current trend for rich, dark walls and room schemes.
Call me an old fogie, I don’t care, but right now I am having problems seeing things. Put it down to my “middle-aged eyesight”, if you like, but I don’t think I’m alone. Just last week, I was in a restaurant and watched everyone on my table (not all as ancient as me) whip out their mobile phones so they could use them as torches to see what was on the menu. As we squinted our way through the meal – “Ooh, yummy cheese! Bleugh, no, that’s butter…” – I was vaguely aware of little flashes of light around the room. Seems we weren’t the only ones having problems identifying what we were eating.
I watched everyone on my table whip out their mobile phones so they could see what was on the menu
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for a charcoal-grey or petrol-blue wall. I’d also kill for walnut panelling in my bedroom – and all the rich, ornate wallpaper in the shops right now? Yes, please. Strong, moody colours are not only very cool, they bring a clubhouse quality to any room for not much cash, adding a chic cosiness to even the most boxy of rooms. They also make everything – for want of a better phrase – look a little bit “hotel chic”. Which is great, up to a point – but, as I learnt to my peril, staying in a hotel last week, it’s a look that can be downright hazardous. Getting up in the middle of the night (sober, I might add) to find the bathroom, I made close acquaintance with a partition. Ouch. Note to self: wear a head torch to bed. On second thought, maybe not.
So, how do you do dark and moody and save your forehead? Here are a few of my pointers:
CONSIDER A ROOM’S PROPENSITY FOR COLOUR
Think about the room’s light levels. If it has a high ceiling and large windows, darker walls will hold their own. Take into account what you already have in the room that will balance out the colour, too – white sanitaryware, a punchy-bright sofa, light flooring…
YOU CAN BREAK THE RULES
Having said the above, the rule that you can’t paint a small room in a dark colour is not always true – bedrooms, halls, dens can all look amazing given a rich scheme. Before you take the plunge, however, think about how you use the room and what you use it for. If it’s a main thoroughfare into your house, or a busy-but-tiny kitchen with a play area for kids, will it be annoying that you’ll need the lights on 24/7?
USE IT AS AN ACCENT
Matt-black kitchen cupboards and dressers look super chic, but if the room is small, be sparing with slapping more colour around the rest of the room. Try confining it to one or two walls in a room and painting the rest in white, or in a lighter shade of the colour of your choice.
PAINT THE WOODWORK
If you are going to paint the whole room dark, you really need to commit, and that means painting your woodwork and doors in the same colour as your wall for a properly cocoon-like drawing-room feel.
THINK ABOUT YOUR WHOLE FLAT/HOUSE
Not enough people think about the whole when it comes to paint colours. Stepping from an all-white hall to an all-black living room could be a little jarring, so think about how you can link your strong palette around your home, in accents of the same colour in different rooms perhaps. It will create what designers and architects call more “flow”.
WHY STOP AT ONE DARK COLOUR?
In for a penny… Try mixing and matching two dark colours together – a navy blue with mulberry, for example. You could work in some ornate Victorian-style wallpaper into your scheme as an accent, too.
strengthen your LIGHTING
You will definitely need to switch your lightbulbs for brighter ones if you do paint your room dark. If you don’t, you will definitely want to invest in a head torch.
TEXTURE IS KEY…
Balance out the darkness with plenty of natural textures: wicker, marble, wool, weathered wood furniture, rough-hewn timber panelling and natural stone floors.
…AND SO ARE REFLECTIVE TEXTURES
Gold, silver, glossy and mirrored surfaces, plush velvets, ornate brocade, bold printed wallpaper with metallic accents – these light-reflective surfaces are all natural bedfellows to dark and moody rooms.