interior stylist

Not Just for Halloween: Deliciously Dark Interiors by Tash South

Oooh, it's the spookiest time of the year… that haunted, dark night when the dead walk again and creepy pumpkins wait to greet us on doorsteps. Usually my best effort at Halloween is a single, badly carved pumpkin that looks more hilarious than scary.

This year I'm taking Halloween much more seriously, I'm taking the dark side… inside.

Don't be afraid of the dark! Be brave. Experiment with inky hues and slightly surreal objects for an utterly dramatic interior. Paint the walls dark and add jewel tones and texture for a space that will wrap itself around you and create a level of cozy that even Hygge can handle!

Here are your five steps to build a deliciously dark space from start to finish.

1. Start With Dark Walls

The perfect spaces to go dark in are North-facing rooms, and small spaces with little natural light, don’t fight nature, embrace the darkness and use it to your advantage to create a dramatic and cocooning interior. Light from the North is cool and harsh and it can be very difficult to create a feeling of light and space. So don’t fight it - go intense!

You may be surprised at the swanky and sophisticated space you will end up with. For gorgeous examples, check out Londoner, Abigail Ahern, whose signature style hangs off dark, bold backdrops.

(Image credit: news.com.au)

2. Add Statement Furniture

Here’s your chance to add some colour. A small amount of jewel tone in a fab texture will go a long way, try a green, red, yellow or turquoise velvet sofa, chair or bed for sophisticated contrast. Even a beat-up tan leather pieces work with dark walls, this really doesn’t have to be an expensive look – use some of what you already have and mix in some new elements. An old sideboard and mirror painted in a gloss red like the example below can be quite striking.

Green Velvet makes a great match for dark walls.

Image credit: The Selby

You can copy Abigail Ahern's Red console and mirror combo style with some gloss red paint.

3. Nail The Lighting

If you’re going dark on the walls, it is essential to get the lighting right. Try to avoid just one strong light, like a single bright pendant, for example. Add many light sources to the room in the form of floor, table and wall lamps to create little puddles of light around the room, which will intensify the cocooning effect you’re trying to achieve.

Dark walls combined with a yellow chair, lots of texture and great lighting. Image Credit

Abigail Ahern's bedroom with perfectly planned lighting.

4. Liven it up with Plants and Texture

This look needs some foliage, it will provide a break in the solid colour and add much needed texture. Try one large impressive plant strategically placed, or a few smaller ones, either arranged around the room or in a group.

Even more texture can be added with rugs and sheepskins, natural materials and hides work really well with this look, or if you want to go really wild, try an animal print rug or throw.

Dark walls need some foliage. Image Credit: Photo by Martina Gemmola / Styling by Ruth Welsby

Rocking the look with all the elements; Mongolian sheepskins, foliage, animal print rug and skull artwork. Boom!  Image Credit

5. Unique Accessories and Art

Now this is where I get excited! Grab the chance to bring in a touch of quirk and eccentricity to make your home unique to you. Scour charity shops for old paintings and artworks you can update, or search for some unusual pieces online.
I’ve discovered some awesome pieces recently from Mineheart who support British design and manufacturing and French company ibride,, who also produce some highly unique pieces. Use some interesting artwork to break up those dark walls - like “Madame Blush”, below,  from Mineheart.

At Ibride, the trays and bookshelves are so good, they can easily be displayed as art – your guests will definitely do a double-take!

Madame Blush by Mineheart

ibride's Divina Console and the birds are called Adam Decorations

Want to try the look in your home?

Then come on over to the dark side!  I've searched the high street, trade shows and the internet, to put together the moodboard below to help you on your way, and if you need even more inspiration, check out my Deliciously Dark Pinterest Board.

How to Work Metallics in a Modern Interior by Tash South

To say I have a particular penchant for metallics would be a bit of an understatement, although I do try not to go OTT! Used well, metals can add an instant touch of glamour or edge - depending on how they are used. When incorporating metallics into your décor, there is an art to striking the right balance. These days metal is making it's way into our homes in all guises, and in the most unusual of places, from wallpaper to flooring inlays.

Calico Wallpaper Photo from  Design Milk . Photo by  The White Arrow

Calico Wallpaper Photo from Design Milk. Photo by The White Arrow

THIS! It just makes me want to sprint right up to that bar! Image from  Dezeen , Herzog Bar & Restaurant München

THIS! It just makes me want to sprint right up to that bar! Image from Dezeen, Herzog Bar & Restaurant München

I definitely prefer my metals a bit more burnished or hammered for a more natural look, but I’m also a massive fan where they appear in sinuous sculptural forms, which is shown in much of Tom Dixon’s work... swoon!

Bert & May's Rich, Burnished, Brushed Brass Kitchen, which I've blogged about before  here

Bert & May's Rich, Burnished, Brushed Brass Kitchen, which I've blogged about before here

Tom Dixon's sinuous, sculptural  Melt Pendants . Image from  hqdesigns.de

Tom Dixon's sinuous, sculptural Melt Pendants. Image from hqdesigns.de

Tom Dixon  Copper Shade Cluster Lighting

Tom Dixon Copper Shade Cluster Lighting

Using metallics is by no means new. Trends have evolved through the decades, in the Twenties, chrome was the metal of choice, paired with plenty of mirrored surfaces. Brutalist metalwork become popular in the Sixties and Seventies, and in the Eighties, gold and brass were all the rage.

Thinking about going for gold? My advice is: Do it!

Here are 4 style tips to help you to start incorporating some shine into your home:

1. Start small

If you are a tiny bit hesitant because you’ve never used metallics before, start with some accessories to test it out, there are some fab items out there at the moment, from copper pineapples and lamps to gold cowhide cushions, buy a few and change them around a bit in your space to see if you like it. And if after a while you LOVE it - go for it! Use your metal of choice on a larger area or as a statement piece.

One of my go to wallpapers to make a subtle yet impactful metallic statement is Antilles weave gold from Thibaut – it has a grasscloth texture, it has dark drama, it has fine threads of gold running through it, personally, it has everything I could ever want in a wallpaper - and I’m definitely finding a place for it in my new house when it’s finished. And I promise I am not being paid to write that!
So try it - using metallics and mirrors reflect light, open up a space and brighten up a dull room in an often unexpected way.

Copper Pineapples by  Oliver Bonas

Copper Pineapples by Oliver Bonas

2. Moderate your metallics

There is a definite trick here to avoid ostentatiousness - unless that’s what you want of course!
To show off metallic pieces in moderation or as a single feature, mix with different textures to balance them out. I love adding rough or soft textures (or both) to the mix - like velvet and exposed brickwork or natural grain wood, for example - so that the metallics stand out even more in contrast.

3. Think about your palette

When adding metallics to your space, think about the colours that would work well with your chosen metal. Gold and brass look lavish with darker hues, such as navy, emerald green and other jewel tones (one of my favourite combos is gold paired with rich green velvet). Steel and silver complement greys, white and blues, while copper loves grey and navy.

I love the gold base of this coffee table paired with the green velvet. Image from  My Domain . PHOTO:  Interiors by Studio M.

I love the gold base of this coffee table paired with the green velvet. Image from My Domain. PHOTO: Interiors by Studio M.

Gold and navy, image from  avestyles.com.  Photo by Rennai Hoefer

Gold and navy, image from avestyles.com. Photo by Rennai Hoefer

4. Mix you metals

Approach with caution! Mixing different metals with abandon should probably be avoided - and best left to the professionals. But if you combine the same colour metal in different textures and finishes, for example; polished, hammered and burnished finishes of gold, a striking effect can be achieved.

 

I hope I’ve inspired you to try a metallic. If you’ve used metallics in your home, please share them in the comments below.
For more metallic inspiration, check out my dedicated gold and copper Pinterest boards here:
Copper Cool and You are Gold.