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Image / Living / Interiors

3 real Irish homes that prove dark walls work in small spaces


by Kate Phelan
31st Aug 2020

Got a small space in need of a revamp? Here’s why you needn’t be afraid to go for dark walls and the trend certainly isn’t going anywhere, as this 2016 article proves.


Dark walls have been a strong trend for some time and we still can’t get enough of them. But when it comes to smaller rooms, we tend to cling to the idea that paler colours are the best way to create a sense of space. Does that theory still stand?

Let’s take a look back at some of our favourite Image Interiors & Living house tours to test the hypothesis. Here’s why we think sooty hues actually work well in a small space…

5 Ways Dark Walls Work in a Small Space | Image Interiors & Living

1. Small space, big impact.

When you have limited wall space, there isn’t the same opportunity to put your own personal stamp on a room with artwork. An expertly curated selection of a few favoured pieces can look great, but a narrow gallery wall can just as easily descend into cramped and chaotic without adequate breathing room.

With a darker wall, the colour itself makes a strong statement, creating a dramatic canvas for even one framed print or mounted sculpture. As seen above in the homes of Mark Grehan from The Garden (left) and Wendy Crawford, owner of Scout (right), the result can often communicate the overall feel of a room much more effectively than lots of wall clutter.

5 Ways Dark Walls Work in a Small Space | Image Interiors & Living

2. They’re dynamic and discreet.

A dusky hue can be particularly useful in an overworked small space, like a time-worn hallway or a child’s bedroom that has been outgrown. Tactfully disguising bicycle scuff marks and crayon masterpieces while conveying a newfound sense of confidence, a darker colour will provide any tired surface with a well-deserved revival, and give a neglected area of the home a definite new identity of its own.

Dark 04

3. They’re inviting. We might love light, airy living rooms, but we don’t necessarily want to live in them. One of the positives about living in a small house or apartment is that they’re cosy almost by definition, and a dark wall colour plays shrewdly into the best aspects of a petite space. In her Sandymount home, Doreen Kilfeather has made this sitting area feel deliberately snug, rather than squeezed, by painting it a rich baritone blue.

This article originally featured online in 2016. Photography by Mark Scott and Doreen Kilfeather


Read more: 5 of the best Instagram accounts to follow if you’ve got a tiny home

Read more: My kitchen is tiny: these are the essentials I use (and what I wish I hadn’t bought)

Read more: How to expertly hang a gallery wall

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