How to make a dark paint palette work throughout your home, from bath to bedroom.

Sunset Makeover: 5 Ways to Go Dark and Dramatic with Paint
The great room at Sunset's 2014 Idea House in Manhattan Beach, California. (Thomas J. Story)
Moody, mysterious, and a total game-changer for your home, dark paint is considered a bold choice for interiors. But as this living room from Sunset’s 2014 Idea House proves, a deep shade is more versatile than you’d think. Here are five spaces that are anything but somber.


Think beyond black and gray—this room at Sunset’s 2014 Idea House is painted a deep mossy green. (Thomas J. Story)

1. Sitting area 

“If you’re not into color, don’t force it,” says Krista Schrock, half of the design duo DISC Interiors. Sage advice—and a maxim that she and fellow designer David John Dick took to heart throughout the interiors of Sunset’s 2014 Idea House in Manhattan Beach, California. Here in the den, the dark palette is a design solution; because the house next door blocked much of the light to the room, Schrock and Dick chose a saturated moss green wall color and a velvet sofa to heighten the clubby vibe. Wood floors and a white ceiling (visible in mirror) keep things from feeling too cavelike.

Who says dark paint doesn’t work for a little girl’s room? (Thomas J. Story)

2. Kids’ room

An updated ranch house in Corona del Mar, California, combines old-world character with modern polish. Homeowner and architect Eric Olsen chose a dark gray as the unusually sophisticated backdrop for the bedroom of his two young daughters, Ella and Siena. “They’ll thank me for it one day when they realize their room has grown up with them,” says Olsen. What keeps the mood age-appropriate? A grid of playful animal portraits by photographer Sharon Montrose.

A sliding glass door makes this dark-walled bathroom in a Washington cabin feel open and airy. (Thomas J. Story)

3. Bathroom

Architects Eric Walter and Steve Mongillo of Seattle firm MW Works transformed a cramped red cabin on Washington’s Key Peninsula into a contemporary vacation retreat featuring natural materials and expanses of glass. In the bathroom, cedar siding brings textural balance to a wall painted in Benjamin Moore’s Midsummer Night—an apt name for a space with a forest vista.

A disco-ball collection pops amid the rafters in the dining area of Michelle McCormick’s home in Los Angeles. (Thomas J. Story)

4. Dining area

At her 1,700-square-foot house in Los Angeles, Lucky Brand design director Michelle McCormick marries her maximalist design aesthetic with an approachable family-friendly sensibility. An antique dining table in the great room is paired with IKEA chairs painted black to match the built-in bookshelves behind. A cowhide rug adds texture, while a trio of vintage disco balls provides offhand glamour.

Designer Lynn K. Leonidas suggested dark trim for my Victorian remodel in Alameda, California. (Irene Edwards)

5. Trim color

The ornate millwork and original molding are major reasons I was drawn to our 1878 Victorian in Alameda, California. But I had never thought of going dark until designer Lynn K. Leonidas showed me an inspiration shot of a similar staircase in moody tones. Here’s a sneak peek of my new entry—still in progress!—painted in pale blush pink and deep gray (Cabana Melon and Sealskin, both by Sherwin-Williams). 

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