What is the Best Paint Color for Dark Rooms?

March 27, 2024
powder blue room.jpg

Discover the best paint colors for dark rooms without natural light. Explore warm-toned neutrals and medium tones that brighten up your space.

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It seems like there's a space like this in just about every home – a dark little corner that lacks that precious natural light we love so much. While it might seem like a good idea to take a dark room and go for the brightest white you can find, it's actually not your best move.

Bright white is so bright because it reflects natural light. So when there's not enough natural light, white doesn't help to open up the space in the way you think it will. Instead, your space can end up seeming flat and often even darker. When considering white, a good rule of thumb is if you need to turn the light on during the day, there's just not enough light to make it work.

Our favorite paint colors for dark rooms without natural light

If white is off the table for your dark room, what should you be looking for instead? The answer is often warm-toned neutrals. These colors are your best bet for making a dark space seem brighter. Medium tones are ideal, because if you go too dark, the room will seem smaller.

Darker rooms also need colors that are more saturated, since there's less light to be reflected off the color. That means you should look for colors with less black in the base. Also keep in mind that you don't have to use light colors in a room without much light – you should really be looking at brighter colors to bring in some light.

The kind of space you're looking at can make a difference too. For example, you would treat a dark bedroom differently than a hallway. For powder rooms without windows, you can go for much bolder looks since people don't spend as much time in these spaces. (Think dark colors and funky accents.) On the other hand, in a dark hallway, a light to medium neutral is a better choice, since bright colors can make them seem more narrow.
Here are a few of our favorite colors for dark rooms. Keep in mind that the size, shape, and function of the room will dictate which colors work best.

What color paint is best for a dark bedroom?

Many people see a room with little to no natural light and think they must lighten it up. Sure, many people prefer a brighter room and it might be safer for resale value, but embracing the darkness can make a dark room very cozy and elegant. Think smoke gray, dark teal, or chocolate browns. 

We recommend going a few shades lighter than you think because once it’s on all the walls (especially in a dark room), it can be very imposing. There are many ways to make a bold paint color work. Don’t be afraid!

How do you make a dark bathroom look brighter?

Many homeowners choose white or off-white for rooms with minimal natural light because they reflect the most light to brighten a dark room. Be careful: artificial lighting can add too many warm yellow undertones or cool blue undertones and you won’t get the true white hue of natural light.

For other colors besides white that reflect light, consider a softer, lighter shade of color like lavender, sunny yellow, powder blue or many others to make a room brighter and add the reflective quality of light while adding a splash of vibrance. Paint can make even small bathrooms feel spacious.

Paint for dark living rooms

Every family uses their living room differently. For some, it’s a home office. For others, it’s a movie room. Think about the purpose that room serves and the kind of feel you want it to have. 

If you use your dark living room as a home office primarily, you might want a more scholarly mood and go for deeper blues or greens. If your family uses the living room for movie nights, you might want to make it warmer and softer with taupe or a muted gray.

Wall paint ideas for dark hallways

Depending on your house, a hallway can be very busy with people and doorways, but hallways in other houses can be quite vacant. Either way, you can still paint your hallway and make it feel warm and welcoming.

If your hallway is small, dark, and filled with door frames, you want to consider the color of the adjoining rooms and find a lighter hue with some contrast. 

If you have a vacant hallway without natural light, consider it an opportunity to dress it up and make a statement with a gallery wall, some visual interest with accent molding, or add some functionality with a wine rack or a wall mount for a guitar. In these scenarios, think about what is going to be hanging on the wall and choose a contrasting color to complement it.

What color looks best with no natural light?

Without natural light, you need to be much more sensitive about the undertones of the color you’re choosing. Choosing paint swatches off your computer screen is futile; you need to get the actual paint swatch, bring it home, and hold it up in the room. You’ll be shocked by how much the colors change in your actual space and without natural light.

Colors like white, gray, and taupe are much more variable with light, so if you’re having trouble with undertones in no natural light, it’s best to pick a vibrant color and go a couple of hues softer than you think for the best color with no natural light.

How to decorate a dark room with no windows

Start by painting the room a bright color. Vibrant hues of yellow or orange are highly visible in dark light. Then incorporate decor like mirrors that reflect other light sources in the room. Try using biophilic design elements like low-light plants, wood, and stone details.

Installing smart LED strip lights underneath bookshelves, toe kicks, around the television, or spotlighting a piece of art gives you a way to add light and adjust the hue to cool it down or warm it up.

If you’re avoiding white walls in your dark room, consider the color of the furniture. Choose white bed frames or dressers, natural wood stains or find high-contrast upholstery to compliment the dark room.

What sheen should you paint a dark room?

Interior paint comes in a variety of sheens from matte (or flat) to high gloss. The most popular finish for paints is called eggshell, which reflects a little light but is still matted (just like an eggshell). Most paint swatches are eggshell and consider eggshell to be the “truest” version of that color. That little bit of gloss will definitely add a bit of light and brighten up a dark room a little.

But eggshell doesn’t always look best on walls. If your wall has dents and unevenness, that is all going to show up in eggshell. So for historic homes with a bit more character, flat or matte paints will help cover up some of those imperfections.

If you choose a dark interior paint, the sheen makes a big difference. The reflective sheen is much more noticeable in dark colors, reflecting whatever light points at it. In a dark room with a dark color, it will reflect the overhead lights and fixtures. This will lighten the room, but it may also give an unpleasant glare, depending on where the light source is and the warmth of the lights.

Good paint colors for dark rooms

1. Lavender

Lavender has warmer tones, which makes it great for adding some brightness to a dark room. The best part about working with lavender is that it has a wide range of shades to suit everyone, from soft dusky tones to purple-based taupes. It doesn't have to be overly feminine, so it works well in almost any space. You can pair it with pastels for a more playful look, or match it with simple neutrals like gray and white for a more sophisticated look.

lavender color room

2. Sunny Yellow

When you don't have much natural light, yellow is a great way to recreate that feeling with artificial light. It's great for bedrooms or bathrooms with tiny windows. Just make sure you have enough artificial light in the room so it doesn't fall flat. Yellow pairs well with white accents and light wood details to add more warmth to a cold space.

Vibrant hues like Sunny Yellow are also some of the easiest colors to see in low light — it’s one of the many reasons taxis are painted bright yellow.

Sunny Yellow Room

3. Powder Blue

This dreamy color makes us feel like we're floating on a cloud in the sunny sky. Light blue helps to bring some brightness to a space, especially when paired with simple white accents. It's ideal for a bathroom or any extra dark corner of your home.

Using shades like Powder Blue makes a room feel cooler, which can be ideal for hot and uncomfortable rooms like finished attics, lofts or upper-level bedrooms.

powder blue color room

4. Bright Orange

This color might seem a bit wild, but we're not talking about safety orange here. When using orange in a dark space, think more pumpkin, tangerine, or apricot. These very warm shades work best in a dark kitchen or dining room space where people gather. Try pairing it with darker wood details with brown and white accents for a sleek look.

bright orange color room

5. Soft Gray

For dark and drab spaces, it might seem a bit crazy to add even more gray to the mix, but it can work! It all depends on the shade you choose – if you stick with light to medium shades, you'll be surprised at how it can actually brighten up a space. Think very soft tones like dove gray, or greige (a mix of gray and beige) to keep things warm. Grays with a hint of color in the base are good options too, especially with a tinge of lavender or pink for added warmth.

Many grays can make a room feel cold but the taupe and pink undertones in soft gray help make the room feel cozy and warm.

soft grey color room

6. Pink

Pink instantly brightens up any space and adds a whole lot of personality. We like softer pastels and rose tones to add just a hint of color without being overwhelming. However, if you want something bolder like fuchsia, stick to using it on an accent wall, since ultra-bright shades can make a room feel smaller when they're on all four walls.

pink color room

With these tips, you'll be able to infuse your whole home with light, even in those spaces that seem extra cold and dark. When you're ready to brighten up your home, book a free interior painting estimate with us!

Ready to paint and brighten up your dark room? Click here to schedule your free estimate:

Want more inspiration? Read our other blog posts:

Easy Home Improvement Ideas to Increase Home Value9 Peaceful Paint Colors to Help You Relax | The Best Paint Colors For Selling A House | How To Use A Paint Color Wheel10 Beautiful Bathroom Paint Colors For Your Next Renovation 


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