How to use the new rich paint palette

No one’s playing it safe anymore when it comes to paint colours. From deep indigo to hot mustard, moody charcoal to passionate crimson, wall spaces are being dialed up to reflect the dramatic new interiors mood. Try it and see. You’ll find yourself going darker and more daring as you realise just how great your interiors look with the new palette.

Put it to the test

“It’s not expensive to paint a wall and you get such a huge change of mood,” advises interiors blogger, Jenny Kakoudakis. “You have to try it out and maybe start with one theme wall. In the living room, we’ve used Farrow & Ball’s Mole’s Breath. Dark walls accentuate colours.”

Consider light sources

“I love the intensity dark colours have. They create this sort of cocooning feeling for us. But if you’re planning to go dark, consider the light sources. Anything from ceiling lights to contrasting coloured table and floor lamps can bounce light around and make the room look less dark. We used Dulux Steel Symphony 1 in the child’s room.”

Create a sanctuary

Jenny chose Farrow & Ball’s Dix Blue for the wall behind her bed to provide a contrast to her dark brown headboard. “There’s something very relaxing about being in a dark room. Maybe it’s the cave-like feeling. Interior designer and stylist, Abigail Ahern has shaped how I approach dark rooms - she makes them feel less intimidating.”

Tranquil environments

For Jenny, creating a tranquil mood for her dining room using dark colours was important. She papered a hero wall in Little Greene’s floral Camellia wallpaper in Smalt, while her supporting walls were painted in Pale Wedgwood.

Girl Boss vibes

Jenny’s home office is by far her favourite room, and of course, she’s styled it dark. “It’s where I blog from and where I read with my son. It’s styled by me and has a Girl Boss vibe about it. The paint colour is Farrow & Ball, Railings.”

Shades of black

“The ‘style it dark’ trend will be big this year,” says self-taught interior designer, Karen Knox.  “Start with a wall and get used to it for a while. Initially I just painted the chimney breast with Valspar Arrowhead and left the alcove light and it looked like a big tombstone in the centre of the room. Then I painted the alcoves on either side black as well, and it widened the space. It’s just such an easy colour to live with.’

Do. Not. Panic.

“Once you start putting dark paint on a wall, you panic,” says Karen. “But once it’s all dried and you’ve put your furniture back in front of it, you get a real idea of what it looks like. So try not to judge it until you’ve done it and put everything back in the room.” For a really deep pigmented indigo blue, Karen used Valspar Midtown Magic.

A simple solution

Green-fingered Lulu Roper-Caldbeck chose a Leyland black for the living room wall, making her bold and graphic art collection pop. Blues and mustard hues break up the monochrome in her home. “Paint is the easiest way to update your living space and it can make such an immediate impact.”

Create contrast

The deep green Hunter Dunn shade by Paint and Paper Library acts as a dramatic backdrop to glossy black accessories and surfaces.

Colour match

Think about the main colour themes in the room you’re painting, and pick complementary tones. Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe grey works to highlight the red tones in the photograph.


Lulu’s dark living room walls are alleviated with a gloss varnish to catch the light. The grey paint they used on the shelving is a shade they mixed themselves.

Break it up

Karen Knox thinks if you’re going dark, you need to break it up. “When you’re doing a dark colour, if you’re not the kind of person that likes a lot of artwork it’s going to be difficult to make that dark wall not just look like a big block of darkness. A lot of the dark spaces that really work are broken up by artwork or plants.”

Make it fun

It’s easily changed and low on the commitment richter scale, so why not have fun? Nicola experimented with blackboard paint in her son’s bedroom for a playful touch, while painting the remaining walls a warm Dulux red.

Enjoyed the article? Sign up for our newsletter

You might also like

Salvaging a wreck: Hayley Caradoc-Hodgkins’ Victorian renovation project

Hayley, picture director for Telegraph Luxury, shows us around her marble-clad home

Read More

Bold, graphic, dark. A listed townhouse gets a modern makeover

Darkroom founder Lulu Roper-Caldbeck shows us round her Islington townhouse

Read More