How to Use Dark Colors in a Small Space

It’s no secret that I love an accent wall. I mean have you seen our dining room and bedroom? Typically, an accent wall means using a darker color to create visual interest within your home. But here’s the thing: we’re almost programmed to think you can’t use a dark paint color in a small space because it would just make it feel even smaller. Well, I’m here to tell you that you CAN and SHOULD go dark! With that being said, I’m here today to share how to use dark colors in a small space — without making it feel even smaller.

6 Easy Ways to Use Dark Colors in a Small Space

1. Paint an accent wall.

Let’s start with my favorite way to go BIG and BOLD in a small space: an accent wall. I actually tend to call this feature a pop wall instead because I love how it can provide the perfect pop for any space. For example, our dining room pictured above… if you remove the blue wall, everything else in the space is neutral and, quite frankly, not especially unique. The addition of rich navy blue paint gives the room visual interest. Plus, it makes the dining room more memorable!

To recreate the look, use Anchors Aweigh from Sherwin-Williams.

2. Wallpaper a single wall.

On a related note, you can also incorporate wallpaper as your accent wall. To successfully use dark colors in a small space, find a wallpaper with darker elements, but an overall balance of light color in the print. Our home’s color palette is white, black, and pops of blue, so I rounded up these gorgeous blue wallpaper options that might interest you! And don’t be afraid to get creative with your wallpaper placement. These days I’m obsessing over wallpapered ceilings, closets, and even mixed with batten board.

3. Use a dark color on lower cabinets.

As you may remember from our kitchen renovation, we’re doing a tuxedo kitchen. This means white cabinet uppers and black lowers. At first, I was worried they’d be too dark and make the room feel smaller. Now that the cabinets are installed, I realize just how wrong I was. The darker cabinets help to ground the space, while also providing some much needed contrast. If black is too bold for you, try charcoal, navy blue, or an olive-y green.

4. Try a dark rug.

If you’re not able to paint or wallpaper, another high impact way to use dark colors in a small space is with a rug. This tip is especially great for renters! Personally, I don’t love rugs that are all one solid color. Instead, I suggest picking a rug that has a mix of light, medium, and dark tones in a vintage-inspired pattern. Plus, if you have pets, these types of rugs do a great job of hiding any ‘accidents.’ Just like darker cabinets, a dark hued rug can help anchor the space, as well. Placing light color furniture on top will help provide contrast and balance.

Here are some beautiful dark rug options:

5. Paint your window trim, door trim or French doors.

If there’s one affordable way to make your home automatically look more chic, this is it. One of the first things I did upon moving in was paint our French doors black and it’s a decision I’ve never once regretted. They automatically look way more high end. I’m also a huge fan of dark paint for moulding and trim, especially on windows. I’ve toyed with incorporating that into our tiny bungalow, but have held off for now…

6. Layer on dark pillows.

If you’re not ready to totally ready to take the plunge with paint, swap in dark pillows. Even just a few dark pillows can help to provide contrast in your decor without a huge commitment.

How else have you incorporated dark colors in your home? I’d love to know!

Photography & styling by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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