How to Paint a Small Room a Dark Color


Sometimes it's best to work with what you've got. A small room is never going to look spacious, no matter what color you paint it. Instead, go for a rich, warm or dramatic look in a small room with dark paint. With the right accessories, you can make a big impact in a small room with color. Don't forget the ceiling--consider it your "fifth wall" and remember that dark colors can recede. With the right lighting, a rich, deep color on the ceiling can make a small, narrow room look higher.

Things You'll Need

  • Spackling paste
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter's tape
  • Primer
  • Brush
  • Roller
  • Paint
  • Select colors that complement other furnishings, such as window coverings, upholstery and cabinets. Find a dark paint color that echoes a color in one of these elements to pull the room together.

  • Paint the ceiling a very deep color, even black, if the room's lighting reflects down instead of up toward the ceiling. For instance, a hall bathroom with lighting over the mirror and sink is a perfect room for a deep color ceiling.

  • Prepare surfaces meticulously in a small room, because flaws will be more noticable on short or narrow walls. Repair them as needed with spackling paste and sand them smooth.

  • Paint the ceiling first. Painting a contrasting color--either lighter or darker than the walls--emphasizes the shape and space of the room.

  • Paint the trim unless it's unpainted wood and you want to leave it that way. Creamy white or pale beige will give a softer effect than pure white trim with dark-painted walls.

  • Tape the ceiling and trim with painter's tape instead of plain masking tape. Painter's tape is typically blue, and prevents paint from seeping under the edge when you paint the walls. Getting clean, straight lines is important, especially when there's a lot of contrast between the ceiling and trim and walls.

  • Prime the walls with a high-hiding primer when doing a drastic color change. For instance, if the walls are white and you are painting them burgundy, high-hiding primer will typically be deep red or gray, so you have to paint fewer coats.

  • Cut in with the brush around all the edges of the walls, then roll them. If you roll the walls before cutting in with a brush, you're likely to get visible brush marks on dark paint.

  • Apply at least two coats of paint over the primer. Remove the masking tape once the final coat is dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a satin or eggshell-finish dark paint. Dark paint in a flat finish can be almost impossible to clean without leaving marks, and very shiny paint accentuates imperfections and creates obvious glare, especially with dark colors.
  • Open windows or use a fan for ventilation and to dissipate fumes and speed paint drying.

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  • Photo Credit paint chart image by Christopher Hall from
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