Using dark colours in interior design is always a risk. It has too be done just right, otherwise what started as an inspired design idea can end up as the most depressing element of your day-to-day life, making you feel down in the dumps before you even get out of the door in the morning. However, there are also plenty of reasons to love decorating with dark colours: it's certainly less common than using lighter shades, it shows design daring, and above all it looks fantastic when someone manages to pull it off.
So, exactly how should one go about pulling this look off? Let's pay a visit to Maison L, a Guérande homes designed by Courants Libres, for some clues.
From this angle, there seems to be an edge – just the slightest edge – of something a little bit gothic about this dining space. That's gothic in the contemporary sense, rather than in the sense of Gothic architecture. Maybe it's the red and black chairs, the heavy-domed black lampshades that bear down over the table with an ever-so-slightly sinister aspect, or the sparse, dark staircase in the background… whatever it is, there's definitely something deliciously dark about this shot.
And yet all of this is mitigated by the pale wood of the table and the light wall seen in the background. The message? If you're going to go dark, do it in moderation.
A restaurant style chalkboard is the perfect way to bring black into your interior while still retaining a playful edge.
The staircase itself is dark and austere, but the brightness of these three bulbs – undimmed by their glass lampshades – ensures that it's the white spaces nearby that are highlighted.
Again, with this sofa, we see the power of dark colours when used in small doses. The sofa itself is cream-coloured, but the addition of some dark cushions and a dark throw toughen it up significantly and take it out of bland, mumsy territory.
For dark-coloured bathrooms, slate is a brilliant choice. It seems luxurious without being showy; simple without being spartan. And a slate wall is a great way to break up the uninspired whiteness that is the go-to theme for most bathrooms.
In the downstairs area, we saw predominately light-coloured walls accentuated by dark features. Here it's the reverse: the gray of the walls is offset by pale furniture and accessories. The key is always to strike a balance between light and dark.
Dark colours in the home don't have to be limited to greys and blacks, as this effective wine-coloured wall shows. For colours such as this one, which are very overbearing, it's a good idea to try and keep them to just one or two feature walls, rather than allowing them to overpower the entire room.
Of course, there are some rooms that just aren't that well suited to dark shades… . the nursery being the first that springs to mind. No wonder that the designers of this home chose to depart from their dark colour scheme to create this pretty little room.