The best paint colors for dark rooms, according to pros (2024)

When faced with choosing a paint color for a lowlight room, you can go one of two ways: Attempt to do magic tricks with lighter shades, or embrace the darkness. “I think you can go light or dark to sort of maximize those lowlight spaces,” said Beth Webb, a designer in Atlanta.

Even the most cheerful designers find themselves leaning into cave life at times: “I like to just embrace the fact that it’s a darker, moodier space and not try to make it feel artificially brighter,” said Alexandra Kaehler, a designer in Winnetka, Ill.


Others gravitate toward lighter options, for good reason. “In rooms where light is limited, pale colors generally work well due to having a higher light reflectance value,” Andrea Magno, director of color marketing & development at Benjamin Moore, said in an email. “What this means is that the natural light that is present will reflect from the surface of the wall, making the overall room feel a bit lighter.”

Alex Papachristidis, a designer in New York, often selects a sunny choice. “I’m not such a dark room person by nature,” he said. “Even if I do paint a room or upholster a room in a dark color, I tend to use light trim because I like that kind of juxtaposition of the heavy and light. And I also like light ceilings.”

Another key consideration is the type of daylight your room receives. “Think about the direction the room is facing and what kind of light, albeit limited, is coming into the room,” Magno wrote. “If the room is north-facing, the light is indirect and cooler, [so] opting for a color with more warmth in its undertone will help create a more welcoming mood.”

We asked design pros their favorite colors for dusky interiors. Here are their suggestions.

Benjamin Moore Cloud White 967

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Cloud White has always been one of my favorite whites,” Papachristidis said. “It’s just a very soft, very neutral white: It’s not too white, it’s not too yellow, it’s not too pink.” In this entry space with limestone floors and casing, he applied it on the walls as well as the vaulted ceiling. “I think it looks beautiful in the daytime. I think it looks beautiful at night. It’s just always been a go-to for me.”

Domingue Finishes Perle

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Webb likes the light-reflecting qualities in Domingue Finishes’ lime wash paints, which are made in Italy and Belgium. “It’s all potassium silicate, which is a mineral paint and it’s extraordinary,” she said. “It gives it a depth, because if you think about it, a latex is just that: It’s plastic. It lacks dimension, so it doesn’t have the same light-refracting quality.” In this powder room without any windows, Webb said she paired a light-bouncing antiqued mirror with Domingue Finishes’ Perle to change “the complexion of the light.”

Farrow & Ball Stone Blue

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“This Library in a ‘Classic 6’ on the Upper West Side comprises the central spine of the apartment which receives no natural light,” Kyle O’Donnell, principal and founder of Gramercy Design in New York, said in an email. They painted the paneling and molding Stone Blue by Farrow & Ball. “The rich, saturated color provides visual interest in the absence of exterior windows,” he said. They used the British paint company’s estate eggshell finish, which O’Donnell said has a 20 percent sheen that “gently reflects light from the library sconces above.” They also painted the doors Benjamin Moore’s Deep Space, a blue-black that creates contrast and “makes the saturated tones of the blue paneling appear brighter,” O’Donnell said.

Benjamin Moore Black Beauty

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Painting the walls, ceiling and overhead duct work of this Walland, Tenn., dining room in Benjamin Moore’s Black Beauty had an added bonus: hiding the functional HVAC system, a visual eyesore. The velvety matte finish was also “an easy and inexpensive way to create drama,” designer Christine Carney, of Blackberry Farm Design, said in an email. She added that it works particularly well in powder rooms, TV rooms or wet bars, “where darkened rooms feel natural and welcome.”

Farrow & Ball Sulking Room Pink

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Designer Jean Liu used Farrow & Ball’s Sulking Room Pink to lighten a Fredericksburg, Tex., living room clad in ebony-stained white oak millwork. “It’s got this mid-value hue that allowed us to brighten the space, but it wasn’t so light that those blush tones were completely washed out,” Liu said.

Benjamin Moore Fog Mist, OC-31

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“Sometimes when you see white walls — and this is very popular right now — it almost feels like an unfinished treatment. It looks like you primed and forgot to paint,” said Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director of Mendelson Group. To counteract that tendency, Mendelson selected Fog Mist, a grayish white, for a Brooklyn living room. “It gives you the same impact that white has, but it feels like you made a choice.”

Benjamin Moore Yellow Clover, 375

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Mendelson also went light for a kitchen on the North Fork of Long Island, using Benjamin Moore’s Yellow Clover on the upper cabinets and island. “Yellow can be a very tough color,” he said. “But in this particular kitchen, it just adds a little bit of happiness without being too buttercup. It’s not tennis ball yellow. It has a little bit of a greige-y, mustardy tone to it, so it still feels sophisticated while at the same time adding a little bit of life to the space.”

Farrow & Ball Cook’s Blue

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This room in a Chicago brownstone does have a window, but it faces directly out onto the building next door. “We really felt like, ‘Let’s embrace the moodiness of it,’” said Kaehler, who wanted a color with a lot of depth. “Certain colors really come to life when they have natural light on them. And then there’s other colors that are really interesting and dimensional without a whole lot of natural light.” Farrow & Ball’s Cook’s Blue is one of the latter. “It had a lot of personality,” Kaehler said.

Kathryn O’Shea-Evans is a design and travel writer in Colorado.

The best paint colors for dark rooms, according to pros (2024)


What is the best color to paint a dark room? ›

Cooler paint colours help walls to recede, making the room feel more spacious and light. Go for pale shades of grey and blue for maximum lightening effect. If it's warmth you're after, don't be afraid to use light terracotta or yellow paint colours – a sunny hue can brighten and warm a dark, dingy space.

What color to paint a room with no natural light? ›

Without any natural light, it doesn't open up spaces as you'd imagine. Instead, it feels flat, closed-in and exceptionally bland. Brighter neutrals are a far better choice - certain greys, lighter camels, soft tans, dusky pinks and lavender. Blue undertones tend to feel cold, so opt for yellow or beige instead.

How to create more light in a dark room? ›

4 Tips Designers Always Use to Brighten a Dark Room
  1. Paint the Walls a Light Color.
  2. Pick a Bright Wallpaper.
  3. Lay Down a Lighter Colored Rug.
  4. Choose Light-Colored Window Treatments.
Jun 8, 2024

What color paint makes a room look brighter? ›

Lighter paint colors like off-whites, light neutrals, pales, and pastels give the illusion of larger, brighter rooms.

What is the best color palette for a dark room? ›

Think very soft tones like dove gray, or greige (a mix of gray and beige) to keep things warm. Grays with a hint of color in the base are good options too, especially with a tinge of lavender or pink for added warmth.

What color stands out the most in the dark? ›

The brightness of yellow also makes it highly noticeable, which is why you'll often see yellow text against a dark background. The color helps draw attention to specific objects or areas, making it an effective tool for highlighting important information or designs.

What is the best minimalist color for a room? ›

Neutral tones such as white, beige, gray, and taupe are the foundation of minimalist design. These colors create a sense of calm and tranquility and serve as a backdrop for other elements in the space. They are versatile and timeless, making them a safe choice for those who prefer a more understated look.

What is the best paint sheen for a dark room? ›

The reflective surface of semigloss paint helps darker rooms feel lighter and brighter without catching the eye as much as high gloss does.

How to lighten up a dark bedroom? ›

Opt for a White or Neutral Color Scheme

A dark room isn't the place to try out a moody, dark color palette. “Light hues on the walls and ceiling can really help lighten a naturally dark space,” Schuster says. If your walls are neutral, paint the ceiling a shade lighter to help light bounce around the room.

How can I brighten my dark room on a budget? ›

How To Make A Dark Room Feel Lighter and “Brighter”
  1. Painting Your Room A Color Instead Of White. photo by zeke ruelas | from: moody mid–century home office. ...
  2. Mirrors Are King. ...
  3. Pepper in Reflective Accents. ...
  4. Use Different Types Of Lighting. ...
  5. Add In Color and Pattern. ...
  6. Consider French Interior Doors. ...
  7. Put Plants Near Your Window.
Mar 5, 2020

How do you make a room super dark? ›

Turn off all the electronics in the room and cover any small light sources with painters tape. Also, use a sleep mask to achieve total darkness. Rearrange your room so that your bed is away from any windows, and paint your room a darker color, like navy blue, to absorb ambient light.

What is the best paint for a dark room? ›

The best paint colors for dark rooms, according to pros
  • Benjamin Moore Cloud White 967.
  • Domingue Finishes Perle.
  • Farrow & Ball Stone Blue.
  • Benjamin Moore Black Beauty.
  • Farrow & Ball Sulking Room Pink.
  • Benjamin Moore Fog Mist, OC-31.
  • Benjamin Moore Yellow Clover, 375.
  • Farrow & Ball Cook's Blue.
5 days ago

What is the best color for a room with no natural light? ›

White. While a white paint color may seem mundane, it can actually brighten a room that gets little access to sunlight. "Simply White or Pure White by Benjamin Moore are perfect choices for a dark room, as they are the contrast that is needed to the darkness," says Joyner.

What is the most soothing paint color? ›

“Shades of blue or green are known to have a relaxing effect—perfect for creating a serene feeling at home,” says Nicole Gibbons, interior designer and founder of the paint company Clare. “Everyone has their own preference on relaxing colors, but soft, cooler colors seem to feel right for most,” adds Yeo.

Which color is best for a low light room? ›

  • Muted Lavender. Opting for home paint colours with a bit of posh and playful take on purple is nothing but the best choice to light up dull rooms. ...
  • Plush Pink. ...
  • Reminiscing Grey. ...
  • Juicy Yellow. ...
  • Powdery Blue. ...
  • Pastel Apricot. ...
  • Radiating Beige.

What color looks best on dark? ›

Dressing for Dark Skin

For cool-toned dark skin, go for jewel tones and earthy hues like olive or navy. On the other hand, warm-toned dark skin looks great in pastel shades like peach or beige.

What color paint over dark walls? ›

When painting over dark walls with light paint colors, use a white primer. Using a primer will help to ensure that your color comes out true when dry, with no dark base color muting a light one or a light base color making it impossible to get bold color coverage.

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