Unleashing the Spotlight on Extraordinary Talents.

Dark and Stormy Is How They Take Their Décor

When Emily Peterson purchased her seaside cottage in Cape Neddick, Maine, she knew its coastal hues had to go. “The second we walked through this house, I had this vision that I wanted it to be dark,” said Ms. Peterson, who bought the 1770s home nearly two years ago. “It’s been here for so many years and I just wanted to bring life back into it.”

And in this case, that meant going back to its historical roots with moodier colors.

So Ms. Peterson, who shares the cottage with her husband and two young children, painted over the butter yellow and powder-blue walls with dark greens and deep blues.

Bright, vibrant spaces have enjoyed their time in the sun — after all, last summer’s Barbiecore moment even extended to homes — but there’s growing interest in a dark interior aesthetic. On TikTok, videos highlighting this style often rack up thousands of likes. And on the home-decorating website Houzz, there’s been surge in searches related to dark and moody décor — for example, “moody bedroom” searches are up 142 percent.

“The popularity of dark and moody décor is likely a reaction to the bright whites and light grays that have dominated interiors in recent years,” said Mitchell Parker, Houzz’s senior editor. “Many homeowners are looking for something different.”

That was the case for Ms. Peterson, a 33-year-old artist whose previous home had light gray walls. Now, each room in her cottage has its own deep shade: Blackish-green walls — painted using Andiron by Sherwin-Williams — in the living room set a backdrop for a green velvet couch and a gallery wall of vintage oil paintings.

Against a dark wall, the colors of the furniture and art pop and can command more attention than they might in a bright room. “I want my house to feel kind of like a museum,” Ms. Peterson said. Her son’s bedroom is color-drenched — meaning the walls, ceiling and even trim arepainted using the same — in Smokehouse, a warm brown with gray notes, by Sherwin-Williams, drawing attention to its nautical theme.

The new color scheme has had a calming effect on Ms. Peterson. “I feel cozy,” she said. “It’s a warm hug every time that you sit in these rooms.”

Dark interiors are deeply rooted in history. In the Victorian era, forest green, dark blue and other rich tones reigned supreme. This was, in large part, a result of technological advancements at the time. Rail transportation and the invention of the resealable paint can in the late 1800s made paint more accessible, said Kate Reggev, a historical architect and project manager at Zubatkin Owner Representation, a project management firm in New York.

“Paint also became much stabler with new color options, thanks to the development of synthetic pigments,” she added.

Before the mid-1800s, paint was made with natural pigments that were muted and faded, so limewash — a mixture of burned lime and water — was preferred over paint.

It doesn’t surprise Ms. Reggev that dark interiors continue to find their way into people’s homes. “I think the staying power of moody, dark interiors is the comforting, enveloping environment they create,” she said.

In warm and humid Bluffton, S.C., Jessica Hawks, a business coach, felt that her builder-grade home lacked personality. A D.I.Y.-er, Ms. Hawks painted her bedroom with London Clay by Farrow & Ball, a brown so deep it almost has a burgundy tint. She also added wainscoting and furnished the room with a four-poster bed and eclectic vintage items.

“Even though I live near the beach, I wanted to pull the feeling of places in Europe, like the Louvre or cathedrals, into my own home,” Ms. Hawks, 27, said.

While bedrooms are popular contenders for deep colors, some opt to paint secondary, less- visited rooms in saturated shades — and, in turn, those rooms become destinations. Jean Stoffer, an interior designer and TV personality, took this approach to the butler pantry within her Greek Revival home in Grand Rapids, Mich. The walls and ceilings are painted a custom gray-blue. “When we have parties, people are in there talking all the time,” Ms. Stoffer said. “They just love being in that room.”

Some may hesitate to go dark in a room out of fear that it’ll make the space feel small, but it usually has the opposite effect. “If you color drench and do the ceilings and everything, your eye has nowhere to stop,” Ms. Peterson said. “It just actually feels bigger.”

When deciding how dark to paint a room, Laura Jenkins, an interior designer, works with its lighting. “If you have a beautiful room with natural light that streams in, I love making those rooms bright and lighter, playing into the light,” said Ms. Jenkins, who lives in Atlanta. “If you already have a dark room, lean into the dark and let it be what it wants to be.”




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