When she played The Sims video game in middle school, Gwen Hefner made all of her houses black. But when she lobbied to cloak her bedroom like nightfall, her mom drew the line at cobalt blue.
“I’ve never been afraid of color; I like it in big doses,” says Gwen, who got a second shot in the dark when she reworked the dining room of her 1980s suburban Kansas City home with a bluish-black customized paint. “It’s moody for sure. Everybody has something to say about it, and that’s what I like. It evokes feeling.”
The redesign started with a wallpaper mural as the focus. Inky-black walls and ceiling magically disappear like the night sky—their intensity balanced with warm wood, gleaming metal, a bit of color contrast, live plants and natural light.
Thrilled with the overall look, Gwen says her best advice is also the least glamorous. “Prep like a pro. Fill any wall bumps, holes or cracks. Any imperfection is magnified with dark colors.”
Gwen’s tips for decorating spaces with dark walls:
Make a Match Think how you want the space to feel and function. If you need a light area to work, skip the black. “A dining room is a perfect place to take risks because it’s not a space you live in,” Gwen says.
Keep a Balance Light colors add contrast, but go easy. “Too much light can look stark,” Gwen says.
Finish Up Sheen is key for dark walls that show dust and dirt, much like a black car. “Matte looks modern but shows every smudge,” Gwen says. “I settled on wipeable satin.”
Turn images—even from Shutterstock—into a mural at wallsrepublic.com.
Saturated jewel tones are the newest dark hues to watch (and try). We like Sherwin-Williams’ rich blue-green ‘cascades’ (left) or Benjamin Moore’s 2017 color of the year: amethyst ‘shadow.’