Natural light brightens painted rooms.

How to Darken a Brightly Painted Room

by D Ann Kross

Paint colors sometimes yield surprising results after they dry on a wall surface. The color in the can or on the chip may look entirely different after it is painted on the wall. Wall colors influence moods, room temperatures and objects within the space. When a bright color overpowers a room, it is usually the first thing people notice as they enter. Beyond repainting the entire room, other options exist to minimize the light reflective value of a color, which can also darken its appearance.

Faux Finish

Faux paint finishes offer an option that customizes your wall color with tone-on-tone shades that mimic the subtle effects of leather or parchment paper. Apply a faux finish over your existing wall paint to tone down a bright color. You can apply faux finishes using various methods, including sponging, stippling, ragging or antiquing. Choose a faux finish glaze that requires additional paint to tint the faux base. For a brightly colored room, this method can darken the existing color by adjusting the quantity and color of the paint added to the faux glazing compound.

Darken the Light Source

Natural and artificial light enhances bright room colors. Darken your natural light source by adding insulated lining or backing to a window treatment. You can also add another layer of operational window coverings, such as dark wood blinds or shades to help absorb some of the reflective light in a room. Install bulbs with lower wattage on existing light fixtures, such as recessed lights to darken your brightly painted room. Some lampshades have opaque fabrics or coatings to obscure bright light bulbs, which can also be effective in toning down bright walls.

Other Elements

Break up large expanses of bright wall color with oversized artwork or wall décor, such as a wall-mounted tapestry. You can layer in dark or neutral tones on furnishings and floor coverings to minimize a bright color's influence within the space. If the moldings surrounding the brightly colored walls are pure white or off-white, consider repainting them with a soft color, like antique white or oyster to calm the space and wall color. Fabrics with patterns that include the wall color as a minor accent injects fresh color themes into the room. Pull the wall color into accent pillows and other furnishings, as needed.

Designer Tips

Before attempting to tone down a freshly painted area, allow the paint to dry for 24 hours, as most paint darkens when dry. An empty room with brightly colored walls appears darker after furnishings and window coverings are in place. In instances where repainting the entire room is not the preferred solution, consider painting an accent wall in a neutral color. Try working with the largest wall to maximize the accent color's presence.


About the Author

As an allied ASID member, D'Ann Kross co-owned and managed an Interior design business serving the greater New Orleans area for 20 years, and has been the lead designer for a major home furnishings franchise. She has published several articles as a contributing editor for "Gulf Coast Woman Magazine."

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