Going Dark

By Lesley Myrick

Deep Wall Colors Can be Surprisingly Successful

Can we all agree that white walls are totally having a trendy moment? Visit Pinterest, and you’ll be flooded with images of light-filled interiors with crisp white walls. Fresh and clean, these sunlit spaces are trending for good reason — they’re beautiful! Who wouldn’t want to spend time in an idyllic minimalist living room that feels like a breath of fresh air?

With great architecture, generous natural light and the right shade of white, a room with white walls can be a Pinterest-worthy success. But — surprise — unless all those factors are in place, white walls can actually look pretty pedestrian. Without great natural light, white walls look dingy and sad. Without architectural details that play with light and shadow, white can actually be a total snoozefest. White is not a one-stop solution for walls.

Just because a wall is painted white does not guarantee that the room will have the bright expansive feeling that’s desired. (Bummer, right?) It’s counterintuitive, but in fact, a deep color can often be a better choice and actually make a space feel larger! While white walls bounce light and feel open and airy, dark colors recede. A deep wall color sits back and blurs the boundaries of a room, creating the illusion of a larger space, especially if the walls and ceiling are painted the same dark hue.

To further enhance this space-expanding effect, I prefer a matte paint finish over an eggshell or satin one. A flat, velvety finish only helps the walls appear to recede and therefore creates the illusion of a larger space.

Not everyone around Waco is on board with dark, matte wall colors though, not even paint professionals. I recently painted my master bedroom a stunning deep peacock blue called Dark Night. When I placed the order for my paint, I received some strange looks from the folks at Sherwin-Williams. They were gobsmacked that I wanted such a deep hue, in a matte finish no less.

“Umm, no one does that here,” the clerk informed me with a puzzled look. “Are you sure this is what you want?”

Darn right it’s what I want, dude.

It actually took a bit of convincing and several days for them to source the right base paint and have it transferred from a different location before my Dark Night was in hand. (He was right; people really don’t do that here!) Deep paint colors need a special base to tint correctly, and the product I needed was hard to track down. But it was totally worth the wait.

My mundane bedroom — formerly painted a lackluster satin-finish white with no personality — suddenly came to life with indigo walls. Now the crisp white doors and brass starburst mirror totally pop against the deep blue hue. There’s a cozy, comforting feeling in the space, which is my ideal vibe for a bedroom.

And the room definitely feels larger than before, not smaller, a fact that people are shocked to witness with their own eyes. I love the surprised looks that spread across their faces. It’s like everything they’ve ever known about color has been proven wrong. And I’m happy to be the one to shake up their perceptions about color. There’s a whole world of wall colors outside of white and light neutrals just waiting to be explored!

So if deep wall colors can be so successful, why are people hesitant to go dark? I’ve got two words for you: resale value. There’s a notion that homebuyers only want light, neutral colors, and that dark colors will send potential buyers — and their checkbooks — running away screaming. That certainly may be true, as lighter wall colors are more in vogue. If you’re planning to sell your home in the immediate future, then by all means, do consider what’s best for resale when it comes to choosing a wall color.

However, if you’ll be sticking around for at least a few years, I say screw resale value. It’s your home. You have the privilege of decorating it the way you want it! If that means dark peacock blue in your bedroom, go for it. If it means a velvety black ceiling in your powder room, make it happen. If it means an ultradramatic dining room, I fully support that.

I’ve got great news for you too — paint can always be painted over. Even a dark color can be concealed with a great primer and repainted to appeal to the masses. If you must, go ahead and paint your bedroom white when it’s time to sell, but for now, have the courage to pick up a paint roller and do what you love. Even if the dude at Sherwin-Williams thinks you’re a little crazy.

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