Dark Rooms – Are They Handsome or Depressing?

Happy Father’s Day!!!


I’m not sure if I did a specific Father’s Day Post last year. Let me see…

Oh yes, now I remember. I was in the process of buying a house in Northampton, MA.


haha! Remember?


I can say this now as somebody has purchased that home.


The inspection turned up massive problems with termite damage to the foundation, major roof issues, large quantities of flaking lead paint, windows needing to be replaced, leaks, mold… ugh. Plus, the yard needed a lot of work. Oh, and I hated the new porch, that did not fit on the house.

Yes, I had to walk away from that one.

And, I’m really glad I made that choice, in any case, because I’m loving living in Boston and very grateful I found this wonderful apartment!


So, for this year, in honor of the Fathers, Husbands, Sons, Uncles, and other dudes in our lives, I am doing a round-up of all of the most handsome, rich, dark rooms and blog posts.

In truth, I haven’t done a lot of them for clients and the darkest I ever lived with was my old bedroom before the wallpaper.

But, I’ve always been intrigued by enigmatic, dark rooms. So, there are many posts related to dark rooms and some of those posts are quite old.

The thing with the older posts is to see if the rooms still hold up. Do they look dated? I did clean the posts up, a bit, and weeded out a few images that I don’t care for in 2021. In some posts, I might’ve added an image or two.

So, I’m going to intersperse the old posts with some new content related to masculine, dark rooms.


Okay, let’s dive into our handsome, dark rooms and begin with a post written in 2014 – entitled:


Masculine Interiors that She’ll Like too, Featuring Brown.


Mark D Sikes, handsome den with black or navy walls and persepolis fabric on sofa

I’ve always loved this room by Mark D. Sikes with what looks like dark chocolate brown walls.


Below, is another post about a woman who loves dark rooms, especially handsome, brown rooms, but her husband likes light and bright. Some stereotypes don’t hold up.


@tradchap on instagram - handsome dining room - He has many wonderful, enigmatic dark rooms

Above and below by Jack Laver Brister, AKA @Tradchap on Instagram. He’s an antique dealer who’s renovated a couple of houses, and decorates in a classical, enigmatic English style.


Tradchap handsome living room

This is a bit of a tangent, but, the wall color above is reminding me of Ben Pentreath’s living room which I’ve always loved and got to see in September 2017. And, yes. It looks EXACTLY like the images on Ben’s Instagram.


However, I just checked out Ben’s insta.


Just go to this image I’m linking to here.


And, here.


Apparently, Ben’s doing some promotional work with Sanderson, who manufactures the William Morris wallpapers and fabrics.


Okay. I love Ben.


I mean, who doesn’t?

Remember when I thought perhaps I loved him too much and was in danger of making a complete ass out of myself? lol

(fortunately, except for the asinine grin, I held it together.)


Ben Pentreath - me - Charlie McCormickBen Pentreath, me, Charlie McCormick


Anyway, I think Ben’s a brilliant architect, not to mention damn easy on the eyes. However, in his quest to display as many William Morris patterns as possible, I counted at least 20 wallpapers and fabrics in his smallish home.

Oh well. He can always change it in a year when if he gets sick of it. Personally, as you’ve probably already surmised, I think it’s a bit much for this charming English cottage in the middle of what looks like the movie set from a Merchant-Ivory film.


Okay, back to the posts featuring handsome, dark rooms.


This is a beautiful post featuring black and blue rooms. It’s an old favorite of mine from 2014.


Farrowandball #studiogreen - #dimity walls #calamine ceiling - photo @katecrothersdesign


The above “unkitchen” isn’t black and blue, and it’s not a dark room. But, it sure is handsome, I think.


It’s from Farrow and Ball (on Instagram) featuring studio green, dimity walls, and calamine ceiling – photo @katecrothersdesign.


That is such an interesting and handsome color combination that I never would’ve come up with.


Well, not the ceiling color. Also, interesting is the black and white painted floor. I love this and can see that the floor underneath is pretty funky. So, a terrific solution.

By the way, did you know that you can now purchase Farrow & Ball samples and paints online?


Farrowandball - @museumofthehome handsome English roomAnother @Farrowandball@museumofthehome. These are very interesting colors, I think. I love the shot of vibrant blue in the background.


The above post is from June 2015 and is an old favorite of mine. You’ll see more of Donald Lococo and Darryl Carter in that post. Remember we saw some of their gorgeous work last Sunday’s post about some of my favorite classical architects.

Speaking of Darryl Carter. He’s the king of handsome yin/yang rooms. I devoted this post to him.


@wherelucelives on instagram @farrowandball railings - dark rooms


Above is from @wherelucelives on Instagram, and she did her living room in Farrow and Ball Railings.



That post is another good one from 2015 featuring many dark rooms.




All of his rooms are as handsome as can be!


One of my favorite posts from 2020 features dark bathrooms.


House of Brinson - Dark Bathrooms - One Room Challenge 2018

From House of Brinson. This is such a wonderful bathroom they did for the One Room Challenge. Please check out their insta by clicking the link. They have many fantastic dark rooms on their feed.


Another good post from 2020 is one where a husband wants dark, rustic decor, but she doesn’t


Other dark rooms I love are dark kitchens. There are plenty scattered on this blog.


Plain English Kitchen - fabulous dark green kitchen - dark rooms


I adore this dark green kitchen by Plain English Kitchen



I’m finishing off with a photo from a gorgeous entrance from the home of architect Gil Schafer and Interior designer Courtnay Daniels.


WAIT! Gil is married? I’m devastated!


Well, just joking. I’ve never even met him, and I wish him and his wife every happiness!

I gather that this marriage is fairly recent. Courtnay is a fantastic interior designer, and I have featured her rooms on this blog a couple of times.  What’s interesting is that I don’t think their home, except for the entry, looks like either one of their work. I know they had another architect do the architectural design. Smart.

However, this entry stopped me in my tracks. I’m sorry, I can no longer post the image. However, you can see it in the original article in Architectural Digest.

That painting is reminding me of this post where I cavalierly was talking about printing or painting a giant piece of art. (nice fantasy. haha)


I love handsome, dark rooms. However, I think the most successful rooms have elements of both masculine and feminine. Yin and Yang.


I found a wonderful Instagram account, @himlekok, that has the most gorgeous rooms, heavy on kitchens. But, with both dark rooms, and light rooms; masculine and feminine. Gorgeous work!


himlekok on instagram photo:stylist @karinjohanssonfotograf

via @himlekok on Instagram  – photo: stylist @karinjohanssonfotograf


I hope you enjoyed these masculine dark rooms. And, again, Happy Father’s Day!




PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES.

***Also, Amazon Prime Day is on the 21st and 22nd of June.***

That link will take you to Amazon.


For example, the Roborocks are going to be at the lowest discount offered. (much lower than you see above) The S6Pure which is my first one, and a great robot vacuum cleaner is already massively slashed and selling for $379!

The S5Max is also heavily discounted right now.


The brand new S7 which I also have is also on sale!


It’s not a big discount in that case, because it’s so new. But, if you have to have that one, then you can save a bit.

Of course, there are millions of other items already on sale on Amazon!

Oh, something else, especially for us women over 55.


You know how we’re supposed to take calcium, (if your doctor recommends it) but the manufacturers get us confused with horses? Like, how am I supposed to swallow this HUGE ROCK that ALWAYS gets caught in my esophagus and feels like a razor going down? Anyone else have that problem?



Well, someone heard us crying out in agony and they’ve made little calcium pills (tiny tabs) that are all natural and have other great stuff in them like magnesium, K2 and D3. I ordered them, and the multi vitamins yesterday and they arrived 20 hours later. The tiny tabs calcium are AWESOME and about the size of an Advil.  The vitamins are larger, but smooth and slide down easily. They also make regular vitamins in “tiny tabs” as well.


Anyway, as someone who has resorted to eating gummy vitamins like a toddler, lol, these are really terrific.


38 Responses

  1. I like a dark, moody powder room. I think it’s so elegant. I think a classic English library, with that very expensive dark paneling and cabinetry, looks great. However, I’ve been unhappy in the past when I’ve painted other rooms dark or “masculine.” I think in order for it to look good, you have to have extremely expensive furniture, art and accessories to not make it look dreary. I think it’s much easier to make less expensive case goods, art and accessories look fresh and inviting with a white or very light wall.

  2. I paint my client’s bathrooms black, including the ceiling.

    So you know where I land on this topic.

  3. I don’t like the dark colors. I love color rather than white rooms, but the dark rooms are too dreary for me.

  4. Dark rooms exude peace, calm, elegance and can look gorgeous as long as they are styled and decorated as in the pictures above, in other words, very hard to do unless you use a decorator or are very talented yourself, especially in less architectural, boxy rooms with small windows the result can be very sad. I’m planning to buy my second Roborock that I love (2 work better if your house is large) but your link doesn’t take me there? I must be doing something incorrectly…

  5. Kay, I too have trained myself to be able to take a handful of pills.
    Not throwing your head back is key.
    I do know that feeling Laurel speaks of as I have felt in a few times. It feels like further down your esophagus the pills start gyrating and changing directions causing pain.
    Should we even begin the topic of gelatin capsules that start dissolving as they make their way down? Yuck.

  6. My problem with dark interiors is that as I am getting older, my eyesight is getting worse in gloomy spaces!

  7. Hey, Laurel, I love the photos you post. So inspiring. I would like to propose a topic for a post. After your good post about the paint in your apartment turning everything from chartreuse to brown to blah in the moving and changing light, I’d be interested in hearing a solution to that problem. I have that problem and I think these pale, vague colors that don’t “hold” are part of the problem. What about using deeper colors that are not wishy-washy? Is it possible to attain the same look as say a light pewter BM color by actually using a darker color that will look like BM Light Pewter in the exposure? My place is more like living on a balcony than an apartment and I live in Chicago and having the interior filled with whatever (usually) horrible weather we have is very difficult to cope with. Then if you think you have adjusted your life to the wide white sky you get summer and the whole place becomes a riot of Green! Sooooo many trees. Soooo much green grass! Thanks for considering this topic for a post. Cheers.

  8. Hi Laurel,
    I copied Mark D Sikes and painted my interior powder room black. It s stunning Everyone raves about it, and I never tire of it.

  9. I actually like the idea of the dark walls as long as everything else pops out against it. I would think you need the correct lighting at night for it to all work.

  10. I wonder if you could perhaps consider to give some creative idea’s for the tiny house, and rv remodel’s that so many of us are having to turn to for shelter including myself, I love your work and love your taste in decorating. Thank you for any consideration

  11. Dark rooms can look gorgeous in photographs, but living in them is dreary. I used to have a brown kitchen—brown linoleum floor, lots of maple cabinets—and it was depressing,, even after we added skylights. Now it’s white with a hardwood floor, a blue stove, and a raised ceiling painted a beautiful clear yellow, BJ Soleil. It’s the brightest room in the house, and everyone loves it.

    Granted, my old kitchen was hardly an example of gorgeous design, but the effect of darkness is the same.

    As for pills, the secret is learning how to open your throat. I can swallow handfuls of large pills all at once. Used to choke on pills, so the trick can be learned.

  12. I have to admit I am generally drawn to lighter and more colorful spaces, but I love the contrast of dark and light together. I find those rooms often to have a very sophisticated, more complex and layered feeling.

  13. P.S. My sofa is covered in Willow Bough, the pattern shown in the Ben Pentreath Instagram shot you posted (though in an older colourway, of course). If I won the lottery Ben Pentreath would be given free rein in my house!

  14. I am drawn to dark colors, in general. My whole closet is a sea of black, navy and charcoal. Once, I did our dining room in a deep plum grasscloth. I HATED it. Since it was grasscloth and, not paint, it looked very “dead” on the walls, even though it was a lovely color. Very expensive mistake! I never had the cajones to try another dark room, until recently. I had our tiny half bath painted navy (I think it may be Hale Navy…not tooooo dark) in Satin Impervo. I added millwork, in the form of thicker base and crown moldings, in addition to a chair rail, with picture frame molding beneath. The toilet is black (!!!), the counter is granite, mostly white, with gray and black markings. Hardware is black and silver and the sink is hammered pewter. What pulls it all together are the walls. I did a gallery look with mostly black and white artwork, framed in subdued gold. I know it isn’t for everybody but, I LOVE it!

  15. Another fan of moody, dark rooms and William Morris. Last December we repainted our living room a deep blue, in pat encouraged by posts here. The curtains and sofa both use Morris fabrics. Everyone who walked in exclaimed over it. I was a little worried that it would feel too dark once summer came, but in fact the extra natural light brightens it up s little and it reads more cheerful than in the winter. We’re so happy!

  16. I discovered your blog about a month ago and I’ve become an avid follower 🙂 I love the idea of these deep colors- especially mixing the dark with light elements. Thinking I might take my small living room over to the dark side after reading this and your post about how lighter colors don’t equal a bigger feeling room. Who’d of thought? You have me sold though. Thanks!

  17. Hi Laurel,

    Wonderful post, as always. It’s fun reading about interiors that I’d never dare to do, especially these deep dark colors. BTW, I read that Ben returned his gorgeous home to it’s previous wall colors as soon as the William Morris promo photos were done.

  18. I’ve always liked masculine dark rooms (and men’s wear-inspired textiles). My SW-facing dining room has been Benjamin Moore’s Deep Royal – one of your fave colors and mine too – for 12 years. Wonderful as a moody late night spot for relaxing with friends and family by candlelight. BUT it’s been my home office since Covid. Totally different story. Very hard to get enough light (or quiet) for Zoom sessions let alone to keep me awake and motivated. Hubby says he’ll go back to work in person soon but will he? I doubt he’ll ever fully vacate our small sun porch turned cozy bright office. As a counselor I need quiet. With a kid or two still at home, this presents a challenge. So I’m thinking of putting doors on my dining room and keeping it an office. I have friends working out of garages, bathrooms, etc. so I feel fortunate to have this space but I will need to make some changes if remote work sticks around. Will homes now feature more office/dining rooms? Will I ever dine in this room again? Where do I put all my papers, journals and books. I still have piles of paper and don’t intend to go all digital. How to soundproof a room without doors? Should I repaint my beautiful Deep Royal walls so I don’t feel like I’m now working out of a nightclub? Anyhow, all good problems to have these days – thanks for listening and love reading and learning here.

  19. Lol. You brought back memories. We lived in Ontario as kids. Summers are “rich” with mosquitoes and us kids would be dotted with Calamine lotion all summer long. When I looked at that kitchen, I said right out loud “why is the ceiling pink? It looks like calamine!” Two sentences later, I see that’s actually the name of the colour. What? Lol!
    I love to look at dark rooms but not to live in them. Had a house with dark colours once and tired of them quickly. I like things to look fresh and airy.

  20. Timely as I am considering a dark (charcoal/black/grayish plum) bedroom for my mountain home. I have always loved dark rooms. Love the drama. I find them cozy. Bathrooms have always been fun to do in black. The thrill is keeping it fresh. These are some interesting examples. Now with laquer paint so readily available, it ups the game for those who don’t want to wallpaper.

  21. I am a retired designer and if I were my client I would quit! I can not decide if l want to go light or dark.l have been flipping for months.I think l have it figured out.Dark on even years,light on odd.This will be fun.

  22. Really enjoyed this post and as always your commentary gave me some chuckles. I really want to try out a dark color in my dining room which gets very little natural light. The windows face SW but there is a narrow alley lined with trees. I’ve had a chocolate brown room but that room was flooded with light. You’ve inspired me to go visit my Laurel paint resource and find a color. Happy Sunday

  23. Good morning Laurel,
    I love dark rooms, they feel cozy to me. But I have to have a light kitchen. My current kitchen has no windows & requires me to turn on the lights anytime I’m in there.
    Im hoping my next place will have a lot of light & windows in the kitchen.

    1. Yeah, I also miss having a window in my kitchen, but there’s also something kind of cozy about it. I only use two lamps and the horrid hood light. It is a bit dark, sometimes, but anything is better than the hideous overhead light which I only use if I need to SEE something. lol

  24. I love that unexpected F&B kitchen, everything about it! To me it looks like someone with taste, creativity and talent was able to work with a lot of what was there already, and pull together a fresh and handsome updated space without a massive gut job. It has loads of charm and character to my eye. I think it is terrific. It is a great example of the jazz analogy I learned here from Laurel: if you hit a wrong note (pink granite countertop) repeat it (ceiling), and it’s no longer wrong, but intentional.

    1. Hi Claudia,

      We can thank Charlie Lagond, a brilliant musician, (played with Kid Creole!) for that wrong-note analogy. He was one of my son’s teachers (high school) at a private music school.

  25. The dark room you picture look lovely in the photos … but but but, have you noticed that they’re nearly all staged with a large white object in the foreground (bust, vase, pestle & mortar, marble backsplash, white checkerboard floor)? It’s the contrast that makes it work, plus good daylight.
    I can’t say that I’m enamoured of the F&B kitchen colour combination, that granite perhaps goes with the beam, but then the ceiling colour is a disaster. If the ceiling goes with the granite (there is a pink tone at the near end, but that’s probably a reflection off the glass stand of macarons which are something we all have lying around collecting dust), then the beam and wood countertop are off. And Studio Green really comes up blue here. And the floor may be funky but the large gaps are going to collect nastiness of all sorts. A bit of wood filler wouldn’t have come amiss, unless the gaps are trompe-l’œil paint of course! The good thing is the work triangle is perfect. I see so many picture-perfect kitchens where the fridge is within easy bicycling distance of the sink or the hob.

    1. Hi GL,

      Yes, I have noticed the white objects and yes, dark rooms NEED white, mirrors, gold, and some shots of color, usually. Yes, the studio green looks blue here, too.

  26. Wonderful post. An emphatic “yes” to dark, mysterious, enigmatic rooms. As a matter of fact the Badass Bobby McAlpine room you featured as well as your other black and blue post convinced me to go “full twilight” on our TV room with walls of BM Twilight, a black Century “Pagoda Console” and a navy sofa. The thing is, it is the only room like it in our house, but it faces west so we have dramatic natural light all the way into the twilight hour. Everybody loves the room which they say is peaceful, not depressing. Thanks for inspiring me to dial the color to an 11!

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Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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