embrace the dark side and try a bold color palette
Ready to revamp your color palette? Dark and moody may be the new way to go. According to local interior designers, unconventional tones—navy, black, and charcoal—can actually make rooms more intimate while also highlighting design details and architectural features.
“Darker tones are often used to create drama in a space—that substance that otherwise wouldn’t happen with lighter colors or mid-tones,” says Las Cruces interior designer Connie Hines. The trick is to avoid creating division or imbalance in a space. Dark colors stand out and there’s no hiding when it’s done wrong.
going all in
To achieve that harmonious balance, Hines often recommends “taking the plunge” and committing wholeheartedly to your new color palette. Don’t just go for a smattering here and there that will ultimately look out of place. “Sometimes homeowners decide they want to add dark, rich colors, but the home does not have the color palette in place to support those deeper tones,” she explains. “They may get a rug with really deep tones, for example, but then everything else just seems to be floating on top of it; nothing in the room anchors it down. You need to carry the look to create the ambience and finish the room in a balanced way.”
El Paso–based interior designer Margaret Ann Colia says one of her favorite design mantras is to create an element of surprise in the home, and that dark hues can be perfect for achieving that effect. In one memorable project, she and her clients decided to take a risk and paint their dining room walls black. “Black, especially on the walls, isn’t for everybody, but the homeowners were game to give it a try,” Colia remembers. “Two years later, it’s still a great-looking dining room. It’s a really good example of how you can add some punch to a room.”
While dark colors go hand-in-hand with traditional old world European architecture, contemporary design schemes are often lighter, airier, and based around neutrals—but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw in a little shade. “There are no laws when it comes to incorporating color,” Colia points out. “It’s just about deciding where you want to create high interest.” Don’t be afraid to reverse the color ratio, says Colia, who suggests building on a completely neutral color palette by incorporating dark hued lamps, rugs, and table accessories for a chic look that can add a bit of shock value to a space.
Hines adds that dark colored artwork can also add a boost to the monochromatic palette typical of modern design. “Art is for art’s sake and doesn’t necessarily have to match the décor,” she notes. “You can use deep and rich art works to achieve depth and add a burst of energy, especially in today’s world, where homeowners aren’t tied to that old world look and may prefer a contemporary, sleek style.”
Sometimes incorporating dark colors is more about choosing the right space than choosing the right accessories. Powder rooms are ideal for the look, says Colia, whether you’re going completely dark or adding colorful accents to an otherwise white space with towels.
Hines adds that spaces used for decompressing and relaxing will benefit from this “soothing, inviting” color scheme, but she cautions homeowners to take heed of the room’s natural light. “From morning to night, the light coming in changes those colors; they’re morphing all day long. Pay particular attention at night. Does it create a cave that’s a little oppressive? Always consider what the colors are doing in the 24-hour period, not just in the given moment.
Connie Hines Interiors Design
Margaret Colia Interior