One of my readers asked which pale colour I would recommend, when selecting a colour for a dark room.
Whenever I get asked this question, I always give the same answer:
“A light colour will never come to life in a dark room but a rich, deep colour can make a dim, somber space feel warm and luminous – even though it receives no natural light.” Donald Kaufman
Painting a dark room in pale colours simply accentuates the shadows in a space. Therefore, pale colours [or whites] can really only be enjoyed with a lot of natural light, as in the images shown here [and above]:
Ever notice how modern homes are mostly white, light filled spaces with floor to ceiling windows?
Because white works with that much light.
This white room (below) has very little natural light which makes it look gray and dull. (Okay I know the floor is concrete but it was the only example I could find)
Picture the same space painted a rich, warm, colour. In a dark space you need to have the lights on anyways and it is lighting that brings out the richness and luminosity of colour.
This is why powder rooms (and media rooms) are usually painted a rich, deep, colour.
They generally don’t have windows so you would always turn the light on when you walked in anyway.
This room [below] has artificial and natural light but a lot of the space reads gray because of all the shadows where it’s darker, although it’s a beautiful room.
Years ago, I lived in an apartment that only had windows at the front. I painted the back wall a pale taupe as I wanted to see how it ‘changed with the light’. I could not tell the difference between the ‘apartment beige’ that was already on the walls and the new pale taupe colour I had painted on one wall. That was when I experienced first hand that pale colours do nothing to enhance a dark space.
The soft golden light in this room seems to come from the walls rather than shine through the windows. With the rich deep palette (shown above) this room has acquired an amber glow that seems almost palpable—a visitor brushing against one of the walls half expects a dusting of cinnamon to fall on his shoulder. Donald Kaufman
One more thing, before you think you have to go this dark (above) to get your dark room to look right, that’s not true. It’s the white of this screen this is not going to work in a dark space, you do not need to go to the extreme of dark and dramatic (although that’s fine too), just stay away from plain white walls.