I have a dilemma. In the words of 90s Aussie popstrel, Natalie Imbruglia, I'm torn.  On the one hand I've been dreaming of living in the ultimate Scandi-style home - all white and pale greys - but on the other, I'm falling for the enveloping charms of dark greys and blacks.

Styling: Hans Blomquist

Styling: Hans Blomquist

Thanks to years of home makeover shows we have been lulled in to thinking that we must decorate in light, neutral colours, always with one eye on resale, as the property market boomed (guilty!).  In these more refined times though, and with moving house getting more and more expensive, we are starting to look at our homes as exactly that: they are once again our sanctuary, a place that reflects our personality and not just a stepping stone to the next money-maker.  

dark doesn’t have to mean depressing

Here's the good news: it's ok to start experimenting with colour again - hurrah! - and dark doesn't have to mean depressing.  In this post I'm following the example of leading stylists Abigail Ahern and Hans Blomquist, looking at how to create a dramatic yet intimate atmosphere in the home.

I have chosen four of the most popular greys and blacks from leading paint manufacturer Farrow & Ball to show you how they can work in the home as a foil for brighter hues and really make your treasures stand out.


Black Blue is perhaps the most sophisticated of the F&B darks. It's a very flat yet rich colour and, when used in large areas with a lot of natural light, will appear blue.  Against bright white, as shown above, it becomes a sumptuous black that really makes bright tones pop.  For me it's a very glamorous colour but also works well with softer materials such a leather and wood.


ABOVE: The furnishings in this eclectic living room really stand out against the dark walls and the homeowner has gone one step further by taking it up on to the ceiling for a dramatic effect - not for the faint-hearted!


BELOW: The brown leather sofa and rug really soften the look in this living room and the dark walls make it enticing and cosy without being too cocooning. 

LEFT: A cloakroom is the ideal room to experiment with a darker colour.  Crisp, white sanitary-ware and woodwork allow the wall to to take centre stage and really show off the colours of these fabrics. 

Downpipe is quite possibly the colour that will define a generation.  It seems everybody wants to paint their house in this dark lead grey these days and it has become synonymous with the Farrow & Ball brand.  I consider Downpipe to be the Goldilocks grey -  not too light and not too dark - and the UK's discerning homeowners seem to agree. It is so popular that F&B's Colour Consultant, Joa Studholme, has categorically stated that it will never be archived.  Not bad for a colour that was traditionally used to paint guttering!

BELOW: In this room, unmistakably decorated by Abigail Ahern, Downpipe has been used on the floor as well as the walls which really grounds everything and draws the eye downwards to the low shelving and the fabulous shaggy pouffé.   

LEFT: This dining room is far from dull! Oranges and reds really shine against Downpipe's mid-grey tones. I love how the picture rail and fireplace have been painted the same colour so as not to distract the eye away from the artwork on the mantelpiece. 


ABOVE:  A gallery wall works well against a dark back drop, much more so than against white.  Here, the wooden frames and accessories add warmth to Downpipe's blue undertones. 


Railings is my favourite of all the F&B darks.  Less harsh than pitch black, it's a great choice for woodwork both internally and externally but its ultra-flat, velvety finish means it also works well on walls to create a super chic surrounding. 

ABOVE LEFT: A wall of bookshelves looks refined in this most handsome of blacks.  ABOVE RIGHT: I love how this orange sofa really fizzes against the deep blackness of the wall. Again the mouldings are painted in the same colour so as not to make the room too 'busy'.    

RIGHT: The jewel tones of the furniture in this picture are offset beautifully by the walls giving the room an air of understated elegance. 


Studio Green was the colour used on the exterior of the original Farrow & Ball studio and indeed it still has a certain nostalgic feel about it.  Unless the room is very well lit it will seem virtually black but also when set against yellows and golds the subtle green shade magically appears.  I think it is a timeless classic!

ABOVE LEFT: The white units and walls reflect every ounce of light to really show off the green tones in this modern shaker-style kitchen and prevent it from overwhelming the space. Balanced with the wood stools and brass hardware, Studio Green really comes in to its own.

ABOVE RIGHT: I love the feeling of faded grandeur in this image.  Like an old Constable painting it evokes an enigmatic atmosphere and certain romantic lamentation.  

Image: ©KerryHussain

Image: ©KerryHussain

So what do you think? Will you be playing it safe or going over to the dark side? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all views are my own, however thanks goes to Farrow & Ball for supplying paint samples.

All images via Pinterest except header images, copyright Kerry Hussain 2016.