An interior designer's advice on making dark interiors work

Thinking of going for a moody room but don't want it to look like an empty cinema? Here's how to create dark interiors with atmosphere.


In a 2018 issue of Image Interiors & Living, we got the chance to look around the stylish home of Rockett St George co-founder Jane Rockett. Jane and her business partner Lucy St George are renowned for their use of moody interior palettes with glamorous accessories, and Jane’s Sussex cottage does not disappoint.

Its black walls show that dark colours are nothing to be afraid of, and are a guaranteed way to make an impact in your home. “I love the drama that dark interiors create,” Jane says. “It’s a colour palette that looks fabulous in modern, traditional, rustic and urban interiors. Black is truly versatile and works well in almost every environment.”  So how can you make black walls work for your home?

Lighting Is Key

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This is true for any space, but even more important when introducing dark colours to your walls. The first thing Jane did when she bought her cottage was maximise the natural light by stripping out the partition walls on the ground floor and open up the top floor to the rafters. She also added a glass extension to the dining room, allowing daylight to stream through the space. This means that while the black walls create drama, the space does not feel dark.

Black Walls

Choose Complementing Surfaces

Black works well with natural materials such as wood, stone and copper, allowing them to really stand out. Jane chose a light-coloured pine floor for her living room, has an exposed brick wall in the kitchen, and her home is full of natural touches such as wooden handles, wool fabrics, wicker baskets, leather chairs and metallic finishes, all of which contrast with the black walls.

Make It Personal

Having black walls in a room with very few accessories runs the risk of making a space feel dark and flat. Instead, make sure they are just a starting point for your room. Almost every colour will pop against black, giving you great freedom to add unusual pieces. Jane’s home is characterised by an abundant collection of interesting objects, for which the dark walls provide the perfect backdrop. A mix of designer buys, flea market finds, and personal mementos combine to add real character to the room. Texture is also introduced throughout with throws and other textiles, as well as the plants that add colour and life to every space.

Black Walls

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Be Brave

You’ll find plenty of people who will advise against painting your walls a dark colour. Even when it comes to trying out samples, the colour can look scary if you’re used to lighter shades. However, if you love the moody look, you simply have to go for it. Jane’s advice for getting a room you truly love is to “feel the fear and to do it anyway, a sentiment that is hard to stick by but I never regret the result.”

Photography by Bénédicte Drummond 


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