How to Paint a Small Room a Dark Color — Interior Designers Weigh In Leave a comment

It can be overwhelming to pick a new paint color when you’re refreshing your space — and the task can seem even more daunting if your room is tiny. There are so many shades of white and gray paint on the market, and they all support the longstanding belief that painting a room white is the fastest way to make it feel bigger and brighter.

But according to interior designers Jaclyn Journey and Alexandra Jacobs, who designed the “Moody Musings” room at Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool Experience, it’s time to challenge that notion with a vibrant color and an easy hack: Go big by painting everything in the room the same color.

“There’s an old wives’ tale that it makes a space feel smaller,” Jacobs said of painting a small room a darker color. “I really don’t feel that way. We’ve never taken it to heart.”

That is evident in the room they dreamed up for Small/Cool: a 10-foot by 12-foot space they covered in BEHR’s Cherry Cola, a rusty, statement-making red. Yet rather than painting the baseboards a contrasting shade, as interior designer Noz Nozawa did in “Classic Redux,” the team behind Journey + Jacobs Design Studio recommend painting the baseboards and ceilings, as well as any trim, the same color. If you have cords that are stapled to the wall, go ahead and paint them, too!

The result is a cohesive look and a clean line that doesn’t overpower the space — and it’s also a trick that will save you money on paint cans, as you won’t need to stock up on multiple colors for one project. What’s more, by finding artwork from Minted that plays with the reds and browns of the paint without matching them exactly, as well as complementing the deep shade with couch cushions and a moody blush floor lamp from Frontgate, Journey and Jacobs leaned into the room’s red hue without fear.

They’re not the only design experts who love painting rooms darker colors. “Sometimes instinct tells you to paint a dark room white to make it look brighter. THAT INSTINCT IS WRONG!!!” HGTV star Orlando Soria recently wrote on Instagram. “Painting a dark, sexy space white makes it look dingy and depressing. LEAN IN and paint it a sultry, saturated color. This will give your space an intentionally romantic vibe.” 

Ella Cerón

Lifestyle Editor

Ella Cerón is Apartment Therapy’s Lifestyle Editor, covering how to live your best life in the home you’ve made your own. She lives in New York with two black cats (and no, it’s not a bit).

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