Chiaroscuro | Decorating with dark walls and mirrors

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we’d painted our snug.

And if you happened to be flicking through my Insta Stories, that day, you’d have seen the action taking place; and the paint actually going onto the walls in real time.

The room had been a mid-dark grey for quite a few years but in a fit of wanting something lighter and brighter. And being swayed by all-white interiors over on Instagram (pop and have a look at the lovely feed by love, tears and teepees to see what I’m talking about); I painted the room in an icy (almost white) grey, just before Christmas.

Oh.

Dear.

Not one of my best moves. But hey, it’s only paint. Easily rectified.

Never one to do things by halves, I decided to buck the trend and go the polar opposite — dark, dark walls. To which everyone, that I ran my idea past, solemnly shook their heads;

‘You’ll regret it! The room will look poky and dark!’

Well. It’s the strangest phenomenon. You’d assume that very dark walls would make a fairly small room — that doesn’t get a great deal of light — feel even darker and even smaller.

But quite the opposite has happened.

The room feels larger.

My tutor at uni used to talk about chiaroscuro; the effect of contrasted light and shade. And how the Renaissance artists used it to give life and drama to their paintings.

Well, the inky tones have had exactly the same result in our home; the dark walls have the added benefit of making our tired old sofa — whose cover’s have been through the wash more times than I can count on both hands — look brighter and less grubby.

And the teals and chartreuse accents, that were so lost against the pale walls, look vivid and vibrant.

Decorating with dark walls

Decorating with dark walls

Decorating with dark walls

Decorating with dark walls

The dark walls have given the space a personality.

And whilst it is naturally a fairly dingy room — even on a bright day — light comes from other sources. Which make our little snug feel rich and splendid; rather than dowdy and dull.

We’ve always had two little wall lights in there, made up of lots of glass strands that dangle down.  They’re unusual — a little bit Art Deco in feel — but they were lost on the pale walls.

Now they sparkle and shine against the inky grey.

And we’ve added a beautiful geometric mirror in the darkest corner; that bounces the light around and gives cheeky glimpses of a looking glass room beyond.

Decorating with dark walls

Decorating with dark walls

Decorating with dark walls

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

I love the circular frame. The open, geometric shapes that show the dark walls beneath. It’s like a work of art in it’s own right.

Our little snug is the most multifunctional room in the house — but multifunctional shouldn’t mean ordinary.

The boys have most of their toys in there; they play in there. We watch TV in there. Read the papers, snuggle on the sofa. Generally chill out in there.

But instead of utilitarian, the tone of the walls and striking mirror have totally elevated the feel of the room.

I’m not sure that my art teacher quite had interior design in mind, when she taught us about chiaroscuro, but I think she’d agree that this is a good example!

Decorating with dark walls

Thank you so much to Exclusive Mirrors for sending us the beautiful Andromeda Mirror for the purposes of styling this post. We love it!

This is a collaborative post but all thoughts, words and images and styling — as ever — are entirely my own.

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About The Twinkle Diaries

Big eyes & a happy heart. Festival goer, gin lover. Lives in a haphazard state of chaotic bliss with a lovely husband, twin toddler boys, three cats & four chickens.

39 thoughts on “Chiaroscuro | Decorating with dark walls and mirrors

  1. Oh what a stunning room! Our spare room walls are exactly this colour and I’ve been struggling with what to do with it but I think copper accessories definately seems to be the way forward xx

  2. Bold, brave and bloomin’ marvellous! I love how the mirror, wooden chest of drawers, soft furnishings etc are allowed to ‘shine’ rather than become lost. The dark paint really does give The room a grand feel…posh and perfect! #homeetc

    1. I’m so pleased with it. The pale grey looked horrendous!! The sofa looked really, really dirty and everything just looked worn and shabby. Amazing what a difference the dark, dark grey has made. Everything has come back to life again :)

    1. Ohhhhh be BRAVE!! It’s only paint — if you don’t like it you can just paint over it again!! ;) I love the snug so much that we’ve just painted our bedroom in a similar dark tone!! LOVE it!!! :)

  3. Caro, you already know I love this room!! I particularly love how striking the grey looks against your chest of drawers. I am going to brave joining you on the dark side!! xxx

  4. I totally agree with you on the dark paint front – our littlest bedroom that we turned into our home office was white when we moved in. We painted it dark grey and it makes the room feel so much bigger!! Love what you’ve done here and that mirror is just gorgeous! X

    1. Aah thanks Lins — I’m so pleased with it. It was a dark grey for years — not quite as dark as this though. What possessed me to paint it in a pale shade, I’ve no idea. SO happy to have gone back over to the dark side!! ;)

  5. The dark colour has worked so well, I love how bright the colours look against it. The hubby wanted a darker shade of grey in oir kitchen which I was against at first but it looks so good against the cream cupboards. Ours is not as dark as yours but it’s definitely darker than I wanted but I love it!

  6. That looks phenomenal! I didn’t think dark paint can make small rooms larger. My place has very little light so it wouldn’t be true for me. I definitely should stick with light paints :)

    I like the idea of white furniture + dark walls. When you look at many scandinavian-like designs, everything there is white. It is very sterile. Your place definitely has a character.

  7. Not many people talk about chiaroscuro, and I think it’s so beautiful… I have a soft spot for dark environments, and these ideas are a nice compromise between light and dark – I can be dark and still not make my room look like the batcave. Thanks for the post!

    1. It’s something that my art teacher always used to talk about and it’s really stuck with me!! So lovely that you can balance out light and dark — even at home. Haha! I love the batcave reference!! My boys are superhero obsessed — I think they’d have loved that!!! LOL! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment Maisha :)

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