Banish any idea that dark walls make for a dark, dull room. The proof is in the paint (and everything else). Darker walls create a more sophisticated atmosphere. And don't be afraid to use a strong color in a small area. Here, neutral upholstery, lamps, and accessories form the room's base. This approach keeps the space from feeling too closed in. "The crisp cream colors are a welcome contrast against the chocolate brown," says Mary Leigh. "With that dark color, I didn't want anything that felt heavy." The neutral scheme stays fresh with touches of color, including a pop of citrus green on a throw over the slipper chair and for a sofa pillow. Chocolate accents adorn other pieces in the room to provide unity and interest, making this look worthy of a standing ovation.
Slipcovered ottomans flank the table and look fresh in an inexpensive and easy-to-clean cotton duck. For a special touch, 2-inch-wide grosgrain trim surrounds the slipcovers' bottoms. This same ribbon makes plain white lampshades and the cotton duck window treatment really stand out. Such a subtle accent keeps these items from looking too plain, while referencing the warm wall color.
To add another layer of color, side tables play off the rich wood tone of the drop-leaf table under the painting. A mix of pillows in different shades and textures jazzes up the creamy sofa.
It's even more important to spruce up a blank dark wall than a lighter colored one because it can make a room feel closed in. To prevent that, Mary Leigh filled the space around the painting with simple creamware plates. "The plates provide a focal point in the room, and without them, the wall would be too dull, even with the painting." The white lamps tie in with the creamware, creating a consistent look. In keeping with the rich feel of the room, a Persian rug rests regally on the existing sea grass. It incorporates some additional color and anchors the room.
This article is from our 2005 Weekend Living special issue, on newsstands the week of September 12!