A friend of mine, Anna, has just moved into a new house. It is her dream home, with lots of space, a beautiful garden and a light-filled kitchen/family room that she fell in love with immediately (and that clinched the deal really). It has so much potential but there is one problem room, which has little natural light as the only windows overlook an alleyway and wall between the house next door. So its dark and also has an ugly view. She intends to disguise the ugly view by planting bamboo against the wall, but it will be more difficult to transform the dark room into something special. Knocking down the wall to the kitchen to make an open-plan space is not an option, so she will have to turn to colour to improve the space.
Most people think the best way to brighten up a dark room is to paint it a shade of white or use a pale colour, but light colours never come to life in a dark room: they just end up making the room look bland, cold and shadowy. Light colours need sunlight and big windows to look their best. Although this feels like going against the grain completely, the secret is to use a deep, saturated colour, especially in rooms such as this one which will be used mainly in the evening. Dark tones will make a room feel comfortable and cosy, and if you add a generous amount of white or bright colours, these will really stand out in contrast and brighten the view. However, for most people it will take a huge leap of faith, to go against everything they instinctively believe, and use a dark colour in a gloomy room, but I can guarantee, if they do so they won’t regret it.
I think Anna should paint the space a dark blue. Farrow and Ball has brought out a beautiful new colour, Stiffkey Blue, which I think will be ideal. The room leads into the kitchen, where she intends to use pale grey for the cupboards, so there will be a flow through the space.
I hope Anna will take a leap of faith and be brave enough to go for a dark colour, rather than play it safe and choose white!
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