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The 10 Best DARK Colours for a Dark Room or Basement

Posted on June 5, 2018 by KylieMawdsley

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?’

ideas for decorating with books on foundation wall. Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black and Benjamin Cloud White by Kylie M Interiors Colour Consultant

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.

Read more:  How to Fix a Dark Room – And it Ain’t With Paint!

If you DON’T have adequate lighting, there really is no paint colour that will save you

Kylie M Interiors Edesign, oak wood bathroom vanity cabinet painted a dark greige green paint colour by Benjamin Moore, Caramelized Onion by Valspar on walls. Beige tile. DIY decorating ideas

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…

The best dark paint colours for a dark room, family room, home theatre, media room or basement. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consultant. Benjamin and Sherwin colors

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.

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray in dining room with white wainscoting and red accents. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint colour consulting expert. Client photo

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).

The best dark paint colour for a dark room or basement. Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray, Kylie M Interiors E-design and virtual colour consultant

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.

Dark room, bathroom with the best paint colour Dior Gray, Benjamin Moore. Clawfoot tub, porcelain tile floor. Kylie M E-design, color expert

  • 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.

Best dark room paint colour, Benjamin Moore Knoxville Gray, blue green gray color blend. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint

  • 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…

Dark basement room best paint colours, Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray, Agreeable Gray, tile look wood floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting (2)

Best dark paint color for dark room. Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray and Colonnade, Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint colour expert. Family photo wall gallery

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!

Sherwin Williams Cast Iron best dark green paint colour for dark basement or room Kylie M Interior

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.

The best gray paint colours for your room. Benjamin or Sherwin. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color consultant. Home decorating and diy ideas blogger.market

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.

Keystone Gray Sherwin Williams, greige couch, red accents in living room. Kylie M Interiors E-design and Online Colour Consulting

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.

Sherwin Williams Cardboard best brown paint colour in hunting themed home. Kylie M E-design


Cardboard Shwerin Williams. Best brown paint colour in vaulted entryway with hunting trophies, deer and wood floor. KYlie M E-design

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.

Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue, navy blue with red brick feature wall in dark hallway. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color consulting, virtual

  • 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!

Family room with stone fireplace, Sherwin Williams Cyberspace, leather, laminate wood flooring, chartreuse chair. Kylie M INteriors E-design and home

Home bar with wine display and storage, beer and wine fridge. Bianco Drift quart countertop, painted gray cabinets and Sherwin Williams Cyberspace. Kylie M INteriors E-design

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

Exposure: If you have a window in your basement, you’ll want to consider the exposure: north-facing / south-facing

Not sure which colour is the best for you?

Check out my E-Design – I can help! 

The best paint colors for your room. Benjamin and Sherwin. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Home Decorating and diy ideas blogger.market

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature

READ MORE

The Best LIGHT Paint Colours for a Dark Room

How to Make a Dark Room Feel Brighter

KYLIE M EDESIGN      VIRTUAL, ONLINE PAINT COLOR CONSULTANT   BENJAMIN MOORE AND SHERWIN WILLIAMS PAINT COLOUR EXPERT



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Comments

  1. Hi, I’ve been losing sleep trying to figure out whether to paint my entire North-West Facing, kinda dark master bedroom with all Chelsea Gray walls. I have high, angled white ceilings to help but when I painted a swatch of Chelsea Gray, it looked super dark and not at all mid-toned. The afternoon sun helps a bit to make it warmer but generally, it’s a pretty dark room. HELP! My other choice is Coventry Gray, which seems to look pretty in every light this room offers. However, I REALLY wanted that dark gray bedroom look so I can do a white colored bed and picture frames that pop off of the dark color. Thoughts?

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      Author

      Hi Kosin, Chelsea Gray will look that bit darker when there isn’t a ton of light coming in, but it’s very stunning which is why it’s so popular. You could consider lightening it by 25% if you want to take a bit of the edge off, without having to go to a lighter gray like Coventry.

  2. Hi Kylie, I’ve drawn so much inspiration from your site! We are about to repaint our entire basement, which is not a walkout and therefore does not get much natural light. Although I appreciate your post above about going for darker colors, would you have any lighter grays that you would recommend for a basement? We’ve been looking at SW’s Repose Gray, Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine and Classic Gray, and Behr’s Silver Drop. A lot of these color choices are based on the fact that I couldn’t decide between going all white, or going gray to be consistent with our upper floors (I don’t know what gray it is but I feel it is too cold of a gray up there). We want a clean, modern look, but want it to be warm and inviting as well without too much taupe underlay. I’m also worried my listed choices will look dirty or shadow-y in our basement as per your post above. Help?? Thank you!

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      Author
  3. Argh! We just moved into a 130 year old farmhouse and it desperately needs a breath of fresh air into it. At the minute it has all dark greys, tans and browns on every wall, so I thought I would dare to go with whites. Soft and fresh is the vibe I was going for. My furniture is cream sofa with black accent chairs. I just painted the livingroom walls, trim and doors White Dove by BM but its really pulling yellow! It feels like I’m sitting in a bowl of french vanilla ice cream!! I have a large south facing window as well as a smaller west facing window thats under a covered porch. I tried changing the type of light bulbs, praying that would help, but nope, looks like I have to drag the paint supplies back out. Help!!

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      Author

      Hi Cathy, that is not good! I’m wondering if you have southern exposure! Ahhh, yes, I just read that you do – that can definitely affect things. I do have a fabulous E-design service, so I can look at your room and come up with some colour ideas that will work.
      Otherwise I”m just guessing on what exactly the room looks like! It is affordable and fun…https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/ You might also want to check out my blog post on the 8 Best Benjamin Moore White Paint Colours https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/the-8-best-benjamin-moore-white-paint-colours-undertones-and-more/
      ~Kylie

  4. I support the premise that dark rooms need darker, saturated colors. If one has to turn the lights on eery time entering a room, you want to be greeted by color. We downsized to a 70’s ranch. The first floor has amazing light (south to north) and I chose B.M. Ice Formations for the public areas. The wide staircase leads to the lower level (sounds more sophisticated than cellar), but it is seen as you enter the front door. I hung a gorgeous lantern in the stairwell. So far, so good, but once at the bottom of the stairs there is darkness and the ceiling filled with drop boxes holding the plumbing, etc. I bit the bullit and painted walls and ceiling Raccoon Hollow. Taupe leather sofa and a red lacquer Chinese wedding cabinet were my inspirations for the rest of the furnishings. What would the rooms look like if I did all white? Just what you said in your presentation above. There would be loads of shadows, not only in the corners of the rooms, but all over the ceilings from the drop boxes.

    Thanks for all your information. You are my go-to when deciding on colors.

  5. Don’t forget SW Griffin. I could paint the whole house that color, I love it so much. And, throughout the day, it changes color. Thanks for these suggestions. Do you think SW Down Home is similar to Cardboard? Thanks, take care.

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