Design Talk | Dark Colors Brighten Up a Room



Everything in life is a balance, and that holds true with design as well.

Much of my work has a beach or coastal look, defined by an abundance of white walls and crisp white trim mixed with blues. Good design, however, comes in many shades. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a client who wasn’t afraid of a darker, more dramatic interior. In fact, the client from day one called this the “winter room.” After a bit of discussion, I knew he wanted a place that could serve as a retreat on cold days and nights—a bit of a gentleman’s space where friends could share a good bottle of wine in front of a blazing fire; I embraced the concept. I wanted the room to feel like a cozy blanket on an icy winter evening, able to wrap its arms around you and envelop you.

The house was a completely new construction, allowing me to work on a blank slate. With this in mind, I picked a wall color (SW Iron Ore SW7069), that wasn’t too brown, gray, or black, but that straddled all those hues. To do a room in a dark tone, there has to be good natural light, otherwise, it will feel like a tomb. Fortunately, this room has four large windows that bring in great light, enabling the use of a strong color.

To balance the wall color, we used a lightly colored, hand carved, Victorian-style limestone mantel, rugs and sofas. The mantel, as well as paneling, add warmth and depth to the space.

Overall, it is a “ying-yang” approach to color use. Everything in life is a balance and that holds true with design. In the end, this room doesn’t feel dark at all when you enter. When the balance is right, the room in turn “feels just right.”

There is no need to shy away from darker hues, but understand that they won’t work in every space. You will need to have the right elements and know how to use them to each other’s advantage. If you are not comfortable making this decision on your own, engage an interior designer who can help you understand how to successfully incorporate darker colors into your home.


Erin Page Pitts is an interior designer based in Gibson Island, MD.

Erin Paige Pitts Interiors,


Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 9, No. 2 2018