The Top 10 DARKER Paint Colours for a Dark Room (Sherwin W. and Benjamin M.)
Partner post to The Best LIGHT paint colours for a dark room or basement
Do you have a dark basement or family room? Are you struggling to find a paint colour that makes it feel like a welcome part of your home rather than a dungeon? I’m here to help!
You might have the mindset that your dark room needs to be a light colour to offset the lack of natural light. And while this can work, you just might be missing out on the chance to add some personality and interest with a more deep and saturated paint colour.
Why would you paint a dark room a dark colour?
Because dark rooms tend to have a lot of shadows, many light colours don’t respond well to blotchy light and can look dingy and dirty. On the other hand, DARK colours LOVE shadows, they ABSORB shadows and tend to look even more stunning than they do on that wee little paint chip.
‘But won’t this make my room feel dark and scary?’
If you have adequate INTERIOR lighting, no. The key to solving a dark room doesn’t just lie in choosing the right paint colour, it’s in the lighting as well. With adequate lighting and the right decor, even a room with no windows can feel bright and inviting in the day and cosy and intimate in the evening.
If you DON’T have adequate lighting, there really is no paint colour that will save you
This dark bathroom looks gorgeous BECAUSE of the dark vanity and wall colour!
However, if new lighting isn’t in the budget and you want to give it a go anyway, check out these fabulous medium and dark-toned paint colours…
1. Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray HC 168
Hands down, Chelsea Gray wins the grand prize as the best medium-dark toned paint colour for a basement or dark room. It’s just the right depth and sits a smidge on the warm side of neutral compared to more cool-blue toned charcoal grays.
The above photo shows you how Chelsea Gray might act in a room with some but not TONS of natural lighting – particularly the right side of the wall.
Please note, in an effort to be authentic and have MASS appeal for the everyday homeowner, I only use images on my site from my E-design clients (or my own home). I do the best I can with what I have so that you can get inspiration for your own home!
As shown in the photos above and below, using white trim in a darker space is a great way to amp up the visuals as the CONTRAST will add a more clear definition of the walls.
A bit more about Chelsea Gray
- Chelsea Gray is like a ‘heavy medium-tone’
- Chelsea Gray has soft undertones that are susceptible to picking up cues from the environment. In some lights, Chelsea Gray can pick up just a barely-there green undertone, while in other lights it falls into a slightly softer, warmer zone while STILL looking totally charcoal
- Chelsea Gray has an LRV of 23.5
Read more: How to Choose a Paint Colour with LRV
2. Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray HC 167
Amherst Gray is a beautiful, rich, medium-dark paint colour and is a stunner with its subtle undertones! At first glance, it’s a medium-dark charcoal paint colour, but as the lighting shifts, you’ll see some beautiful cool green undertones coming up (green that leans slightly to the blue side over the yellow side).
Kylie M E-Design
A bit more about Amherst Gray
- With an LRV Of 19, Amherst Gray is pretty skookum (which is west coast talk for substantial)
- Notice the rich depth in the corners of the above photo and beautiful velvet appearance on the main part of the wall
3. Benjamin Moore Dior Gray 2133-40
Dior Gray has been a LONG-time fave of mine, well before gray was popular! It’s not like Chelsea Gray and Amherst Gray as it has a crisper cool, almost purple-blue undertone to it that adds a subtle, glam, rich touch to a room.
- Dior Gray has an LRV of 20, so it’s not as dense as some of the colours on this page, but it’s still got a glorious weight to it
- If Chelsea Gray and Amherst Gray are too ‘gray’ for you, you might like the additional colour in Dior – as long as you like purple-blue!
4. BM Knoxville Gray HC-160
Knoxville Gray is a wicked cool, medium-dark, blue-green-gray blend.
- Knoxville Gray has an LRV of 14
- It can really sway depending on the room, sometimes looking a bit more blue than green or more green than blue – but never plain old gray
5. Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray SW 7068
Grizzle Gray is one of my FAVES, she’s a real moody Judy…
In the above photo, you can see a snippet of Grizzle Gray on the left, partnered with SW Colonnade Gray on the main gallery wall. While that room LOOKS bright, it was actually a considerably dark room (in our old home), as we kept the blind closed most of the time.
- Grizzle Gray is a medium-dark green-gray blend. It’s not a WARM green, but it’s not icy cold
- If you don’t like green, don’t pick this colour. While the green isn’t overwhelming, it’s noticeable
- Grizzle has an LRV of 13, so it’s got some SERIOUS meat on its bones!
6. Sherwin Williams Cast Iron SW 6202
Cast Iron is GORGEOUS for a slightly richer, moodier look in a dark room – great for movie watching and snuggling!
If you look at the bottom right of the above photo, you’ll see the rich green ‘colour’ rise-up, whereas it falls back in the darker areas. And keep in mind, this room has VERY…LITTLE…LIGHT – and it looks wicked gorgeous.
Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages!
7. Sherwin Williams Keystone Gray SW 7504
I love this Keystone Gray as it’s a greige with a relatively well-balanced gray/beige blend in the medium range. At this depth, the brown is slightly stronger than the gray, but the gray is still there to stop this colour from being ‘chocolate’ or overly warm. In the lighter range of this colour (Agreeable Gray), it’s the gray that is slightly more dominant. If you are looking for a sophisticated look Keystone Gray is a gray-t choice.
Kylie M E-Design
A bit more about Keystone Gray
- Keystone Gray is one of the lighter ones on this page with an LRV of 29
- At this depth, the brown shows up a wink more, without becoming a typical ‘brown’ as the gray still plays a BIG part. If you want more warmth, check out BM Kingsport Gray.
Read more: The Best Greige and Gray Paint Colours
Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
- At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
- If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
8. Sherwin Williams Cardboard SW 6124
I know, sounds THRILLING, right? But really, Cardboard is a gorgeously rich, dark golden beige. It almost has a caramel look to it and is MAGIC for a darker room.
This room doesn’t look dark, but that wall is the DARKEST WALL because it’s the window wall, meaning that the light is coming from it, but not necessarily casting on to it.
A bit more about Cardboard…
- It’s great to make boxes out of
- Its undertones are pretty well-balanced so it’s not overly orange or yellow – its more of a darker gold/caramel – check the sample blob out here
9. Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue HC 155
I have mad love for the DARKER approach of BM Hale Navy, but it can sometimes sit a wink heavy in a dark room. If you bump it up to Newburyport Blue, you might see a bit more of the blue, especially in a lower light space.
And it would have been DAMN dark in this dark hallway had they not added a central light with some decent wattage to it.
- Newburyport Blue has an LRV of 8. Not sure what LRV is? Read here
- Newburyport Blue is a great way to nod towards navy without going into the primary range
- A few other beautiful blues include SW Sea Serpent, SW Naval, BM Gentleman’s Gray, all of which have their own particular nuances and undertones
10. Sherwin Williams Cyberspace SW 7076
Cyberspace, this is a colour that I used in my OWN home, so I had to touch on it for you!
Read more: Our Real Family Room Makeover
Sherwin Williams Cyberspace! This is a dark gray colour with a gorgeous navy blue undercurrent that comes to life when natural or artificial light shines on it.
Looking at the above photos, it doesn’t SEEM like a dark space, but I opened the blinds for the photo and jacked up my camera functions. In real-life we keep the blinds closed in this room most of the time so that it’s more intimate.
A bit more about Cyberspace…
- Cyberspace has an LRV of 6 – BOOM, that’s dark!
- Cyberspace can look dark charcoal/blackish with super reduced light – just a warning
- If you want MORE blue to rise up, then Hale Navy might be a better choice for you. Cyberspace is a wink more subtle with a stronger charcoal base
And don’t forget
There are a few other things to think about before you finalize your paint colour…
Low Ceiling (common in basements): How to Make a Low Ceiling Feel Higher
Not sure which colour is the best for you?
Check out my E-Design – I can help!
KYLIE M EDESIGN VIRTUAL, ONLINE PAINT COLOR CONSULTANT BENJAMIN MOORE AND SHERWIN WILLIAMS PAINT COLOUR EXPERT