Hi lovelies. It’s Mandy today. I hope you’re having a fab almost-end-of-the-week. So, you know that saying two sides of the same coin… Well that sums up my personal style preferences in the most frighteningly accurate way. On the one hand, I’m all about the white spaces with lots of freestyle boho layering and the odd reference to cool classic design and loads of granny florals and something contemporary and pops of ludicrously bright colour. On the other, I love love LOVE me a dark and Gothic-inspired interior: the kind of home where, in my fantasy life, I would be happily living as Mrs Severus Snape with all our dark-haired little Snapelets skulking around and practicing their Defence Against The Dark Arts lessons and me, all wild hair and velvet dresses and smokey eyes and dark lips and Victorian boots, swirling around from space to space while dusting off the skulls and potions bottles and velvet drapes. Sigh!
My deeply rooted weirdness aside, we all know where I’m headed here: unconventional though it may be, there is a strong case to be made for spaces that are ultra-moody and dripping with rich, deep tones as well as decor that takes its cue from Baroque, bohemian, Renaissance, retro, minimalist, mid-Century, vintage, contemporary and Gothic sources – all composed, obviously, in a way that feels fresh, modern and supremely liveable. It is, admittedly, a bit more tricky to get right and sounds a bit mad but at its heart it’s simply about balance. Figure that out along with how much or little moodiness you like and take the plunge. As someone who has two dark-painted interior walls (one in the kids’ room) and dark exterior walls all round I can tell you it’s rather addicting and super doable. Read (and look) on for a couple of tips and EMO visual inspiration…
IDEAS & TIPS
• A feature wall (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom or living room… even a hallway) is the easiest way to dip your toes in. Visit the hardware store and check out the selection of paints. Don’t go for pure black. Instead you want dark charcoal blacks or inky blacks with blue, purple or green undertones; luxe navy; dark hunter green; and deep pigmented greys.
• Opt for matt or chalky finishes when it comes to wall surfaces; and glossy paint finishes for door and window trims as well as interior and front doors.
• If you can afford it, consider upholstering an existing sofa or armchair (or headboard) in a lovely dark velvet. Fabric Superstore has some amazingly well-priced velvets. If not a piece of furniture (or in addition to), then introduce a few cushions, throws and footstools/ottomans in plush dark velvets.
• Wallpaper is so costly but wow, the returns are so worth it. Look into something OTT featuring florals against a dark background and use it on only one feature wall.
• Create a dramatic tablescape in a hallway, dining table or console table by combining dark solid vessels, dark tinted glassware (blacks, purples and deep greens and blues), a dark desk lamp (or one with a dark lampshade) and/or dark spray-painted figurines with clear glass and something gifted, like copper or gold. Choose blooms that have a romantic country-style feel.
• Indoor plants also look incredible against dark backgrounds.
• Speaking of florals, there’s something about blooms and dark spaces that have a gorgeous synergy: framed paintings, prints, fabrics, printed throws… H&M have the most INSANELY beautiful Black Hydrangea bathroom range including a digitally printed dark floral shower curtain that I snapped up for myself at their V&A store just yesterday.
• Balance things out with lighter elements for that all-important layered effect: warm medium-toned wood; touches of richly saturated (but not bright) jewel-toned colours; creamy, chalky and bone-hued whites; dusty pinks and lilacs; and then a sprinkle of gold (matt), copper, brass, silver, rose gold and mirrors or mirrored surfaces. Oh, and transparent items (glassware, chandeliers, clear acrylic lamp bases, and contemporary unadorned light bulbs hanging simply from interesting cords and fittings.
• Layering is the key word. You can see in the selection of images here that surfaces are heaving with things, pictures, collections, natural ephemera… It’s basically the cabinet of curiosities come to life; how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole is really up to you. Keep it simple with just a few pics on the wall and a selection of pieces or pretend your home is a bric-a-brac store and indulge your maximalist. (It’s the latter for me).
• Not wanting to contradict my previous point, but you also do want to keep it composed. You can do that by having an area (or a few) of focus: a gallery wall, for example, with only botanical artworks; a stand-out piece of furniture that is the star of the show; a darker feature wall that serves to anchor the space and direct the eye; and putting time and care into your vignettes and the arrangement of your items. Not to say they should look ready for a magazine shoot, but just as if you have used an editor’s eye to select, arrange and compose what’s on display. Channel your inner stylish magpie and weave that spell, you stylish witch, you…