16 dark interior design ideas to embrace this winter

Swap white walls for moody hues with these inspiring dark interior design ideas – the perfect wintery update

20 dark interior design ideas to embrace this winter
(Image credit: Dan Duchars/The Contented Nest)

Dark interior design is everywhere right now, we can't scroll through Instagram without seeing someone gloriously dramatic space. And it's easy to see why: dark schemes are a great backdrop for furniture, whether neutral or bold in color and design; dark decorating schemes make rooms feel cozy and inviting – even in larger spaces; and they're practical too, hiding all manner of sins, from sticky fingerprints to irregularities in walls. 

And while there is no denying that we will continue to be obsessed with light, airy interiors, a blank white wall just doesn’t fill us with the same glee it once did. So, we think the time has come to move away from light-centered interiors to something a little more… dark. 

From gothic bathrooms and atmospheric living rooms to bold kitchens and moody hallways, we say ditch all-white everything and join the inky revolution with these inspiring dark interior designs…

If you love these dramatic looks check out our black living room ideas feature next.

1. Add drama with black tiles 

Fired Earth glossy black metro tiles

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

How delicious are these glossy black metro tiles? More dramatic than paint or wallpaper, bold, dark tiles add heaps of glamour but are still in keeping with that moodier vibe. If this look is a bit too Tim Burton for you, try using black tiles over a smaller surface area like a kitchen splashback, the walls of a shower or around a fireplace. 

Love this dramatic space? Check out of full gallery of black bathrooms.

2. Add warmth to dark interior design with earthy tones

Mid-century modern inspired living room

(Image credit: CarpetRight)

Dark interiors designs aren’t all about greys, blacks and blues – deep rusty oranges and reds are also fair game. Try combining a deep orange like Dulux’s Tuscan Terracotta with dark wood flooring and Mid-century furniture to re-create this cozy look. 

3. Small space? Paint the ceiling 

We have a tendency to think that painting a ceiling white will make it look higher, and as a result make the room look bigger. But painting a ceiling the same dark hue as your walls means that you can’t actually read where the walls end and the ceiling begins, creating the illusion that the ceilings are in fact much, much higher. Genius, no?

Top tip: If your room is narrow, paint the two shortest walls a slightly lighter shade than the longer walls, and keep the floor and ceiling neutral to correct the room's proportions.

4. Pick accessories in contrasting colours 

Dark blue dining area with bright light fittings

(Image credit: Pooky)

Another myth about white paint is that it makes other colors' pop'. WRONG. Dark walls accentuate color, making them far more vibrant than a magnolia-blah background. Splashes of bold, bright color – maybe even neon, for the braver of us – will make a strong statement, and cool pastel shades also contrast beautifully with darker tones. 

Dark kitchen with cooper lights and accessories

(Image credit: Pooky)

And if vivid colors aren’t really your thing, accent metallics look incredible against a dark background, plus the reflective surfaces will help more light bounce around the room. 

5. Blend in larger pieces of furniture

This is a brilliant trick if you are working with a smaller space. Painting furniture, especially bigger pieces like wardrobes and bookshelves, the same dark color as the walls can stop a small space from feeling cluttered and keeps the room looking more open. 

If you are after a guide to how to paint furniture, check out our step by step. 

As you are probably aware we love a gallery wall, and there’s no denying that they look best against a dark background. Whether you choose photos, artwork or mirrors, breaking up a dark interior with a well-curated display will always make a statement. 

7. Get a style hit with dark florals

Sofa.com Harper two and a half seat sofa in Deep Turquoise pure cotton matt velvet

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

Florals don’t necessarily have to be all about pretty pink roses and whimsical daisy chains, they can be moody too. Our favorite way to incorporate them? A wall mural. A whole room of florals could get a bit psychedelic but we love the sophisticated look of this Dutch Masters-esque wall mural. 

8. Make dark interior design work with any style

Scandi-inspired living room by John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis)

The beauty of dark interiors is that they can be adapted to work with any style. Yes even Scandi can be taken over to the dark side. Just check out this living room – the pared-back, pale wooden furniture and the neutral hues of the accessories work perfectly with the deep blue feature wall. 

Find lots of inspiration for grey living rooms in our gallery.

9. Add depth to a dark room with house plants 

Creating a moody interior isn’t all about covering walls in dark paint. Copious amounts of house plants can give even the lightest room a dark and atmospheric feel. This gorgeous bathroom should be super bright with its white walls and pale grey, glossy tiles, but the mini jungle going on in there gives it plenty of depth. 

10. Keep the lighting warm in dark interiors

Warm low lighting in a dark decorated kitchen

(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

When it comes to lighting a darkly decorated room, it goes without saying that you should avoid anything too bright. Choose shades that cast a warm light – drum shades lined in gold or copper work best for keeping the light low and luxurious. If you can, have lighting on dimmer switches as this will only enhance the moody, atmospheric feel. 

11. Create depth with varied textures

Dark living room with large mirror

(Image credit: Crown)

If you're looking to add depth or soften a dark scheme, consider adding some warmer woody tones. In this room the brown cabinet plus the log pile bring a rustic feel to the dark space that risk being on the colder side because of larger proportions of the space. 

A brooding palette with flashes of Art Deco creates drama in the period home of Cat and Dain Maginnis

(Image credit: Dan Duchars/The Contented Nest)

A darker background is going to make whatever you hang on them pop, so be bold in your choices of print for your gallery wall. A gallery wall can also lift a flat dark wall too that might not get much natural light. If you need some inspiration with your gallery wall ideas check out our full feature. 

13. Go for a dark window treatment 

(Image credit: Shutterly Fabulous)

If you want to dabble with the dark side but the idea of painting your walls in anything but white brings you out in a cold sweat, pick a darker color for your window treatments instead. Some dark, heavy velvet curtains can still add that gothic feel or choose some shutters in an on-trend charcoal which can then be paired with more muted, softer shades.

14. Work complementary dark shades into your scheme for a luxe finish

living room with deep blue inky scheme and other deeo red accents by mulroy architects

(Image credit: Joakim Boren (Mulroy Architects))

If you're considering using dark, inky shades to create a luxe finish, consider working another equally rich, complementary shade into your scheme – red is a great example – to balance out the space and add interest. 

Opting for a deep-red Persian rug, as well as a gorgeous velvet ottoman and accent cushions is effective in breaking up an otherwise cohesive blue scheme. The use of complementary, inky shades also gives the space a rich, luxe feel.

15. Choose a richer color palette instead

Carpetright Albion Twist Carpet in Mulberry

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Nodding to dark interiors doesn't have to be all about the cool greys and crisp blacks, deep plum shades add just as much drama but give a warmer, cosier feel. Try painting one wall in a deep, rich shade (something like Dulux's Mulberry Burst would work perfectly) and choosing a matching carpet to really enhance that sense of cocooning warmth and comfort. 

16. Create a dramatic entrance to your home

To celebrate the original features of their Victorian terrace, Karla and Andy have created a modern family home with plenty of period character

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

You can't go wrong with a black and white hallway ideas – it's simple and elegant. With a dark color scheme in a hallway, just make sure you add in plenty of lighter hues so the space doesn't feel too gloomy. We like how in this hallways the ceiling and the stairs bring that freshness and the earthy-toned floor tiles warm up the room.

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.