How to Decorate a Room with Dark Floors


Some people believe that painting your walls and ceiling a dark color will make the room feel and look smaller. This is why most people will advise you to go with a feature wall if you want to add a darker color to the room.

What about when it comes to flooring? Do the same rules apply?

Dark hardwood flooring, when paired with light walls, may actually open up the room. The lighter colored walls and ceiling counter the dark flooring, and since there is more wall than floor, there will be more light than dark. The dark hardwood ends up adding warmth and maybe even a bit of intimacy.

Now that we know dark flooring can be a successful design move, let's answer the next most obvious question. How do I style a room with dark floors? Where is the dark and cramped versus dark and moody line drawn?

How do you balance a room with dark floors?

The key to designing a room with dark floors is balance. You'll need a balance of bright walls to reflect enough light to make the room feel open. When you see rooms with dark floors online, you’ll usually see grey and white decor themes and other light neutrals, like tan, creme, and light browns. It’s more than just wall color though. Here is what goes into designing a room with dark floors.

Blinds and Curtains

Look for sheer creme or white curtains to bring a flowy bright look to your room. Sheer fabrics are enough to offer privacy but will still let plenty of natural light in. If you prefer blinds, I suggest fabric panel blinds to add texture to your design.

Flooring Material and Finish

You can go with several different options for dark flooring, including hardwoods with dark finishes like tobacco black or espresso brown. Dark Marmoleum shades like dark chocolate and chocolate blues are also great choices. If you want to have a mix of both dark and light, try out patterned tile flooring.


Now if you install a dark floor and furnish your room with dark furniture you’re going to feel like your furniture and floors are blending in to become one. Doesn’t sound terribly bad but what we’re aiming for is a harmonious balance. Choose beige furniture or go with a grey sectional with a white rug. If your flooring is dark brown, buy a creme or bone-colored couch and pair it with a pink chair for a pop of color.


When hanging wall art, try to match the framing to the color of the flooring. This will bring some of those dark colors to eye level, bringing the bigger picture together. Hang some mirrors to reflect light. Add house plants. Green leaves will always match dark flooring and will add a touch of life to something otherwise very dark.

Avoiding Monotony

Adding dark decor to a room with dark floors isn't the only route to monotony. You'll need to have more than just a two-color scheme. Contrast creates tension, which is a good thing in interior design. The contrast between the different colors will make your design seem effortless; whereas, if you went with a two-color theme, it might be too obvious that you are trying to balance out your dark floors rather than create a balanced space.


Contrast plays a huge role in design, whether it be a bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom. The use of dark woods helps achieve that. That isn't to say that light hardwoods aren't in. It is all a matter of what you want to achieve. If you want to have a bright-feeling room, using a dark hardwood can make the rest of the room pop.

Forced Perspective in Interior Design

Dark floors can have another unexpected effect. They have the power to direct your eyes away from the floor. This is called forced perspective. Eyes are always attracted to light, and so utilizing dark hardwoods in a room will force your eyes to glide over it and up to the walls. Think about when you're out on a dark night. Your eyes gravitate toward the moon and stars, and you're always looking around for shooting stars and satellites. You instinctually gloss over the darkness of the sky and barely give a glance to the dark ground beneath your feet. A similar phenomenon is at play in a white-painted room with dark floors.

Using white and off-white

One of the many perks of dark floors is that they pair well with white cabinets and furniture. The white and dark floor combo is elegant, especially when combined with a pop of color. Try adding lighter colors like pink, light green, or sky blue.

Here's some counterintuitive advice: If want to make your home as bright as possible, stay away from making everything as bright as possible and utilize dark hardwood to accentuate the light. Decking the entire room out in whites and other bright shades will fatigue your eyes and will eventually overwhelm the senses. Imagine being in a room with bright white walls, ceilings, and floors. It would be like living in a hospital!

Do dark floors work as a focal point?

Not usually.

If your room features plain white walls, and you want the dark floors themselves to be the focal point, you would need to choose a flooring material with plenty of texture, pattern, or contrast. However, such floors are uncommon, as most dark hardwoods reveal very little woodgrain, and most dark patterns tend to be somewhat monochrome. 

Instead of trying to make your dark floors the focal point, you will probably have better luck including other interesting features in the room for your eyes to rest on. Add attractive furniture, artwork, lighting, or other eye candy, and let your dark floors remain in the background.

Adding different colors to your dark floor design

When you see a room with dark flooring, it's almost always going to be dark hardwood floors. A much less common style of dark flooring is colored flooring, like dark blue painted wood, black tiling, or deep purple tiling. You're probably thinking, "deep purple? I would never show my house to anyone if I had that in my living space!" But be open to the unexpected! Purple or dark red could be beautiful when paired with white grout and ivory walls. Your pop of color doesn't always have to be in your furniture. When choosing a dark flooring material, you can experiment with less common colors than espresso or deep grey-brown!

Dark floor inspiration

Pop of Color

These dark floors were paired with light off-white cabinets, gold hardware, and a couple of blue chairs to add some color. The light cabinetry keeps the kitchen bright and gives the designers the ability to add a darker color like blue.

Matching Shelves

Image: Sklar Design

The arched in-wall shelving is the perfect match to the dark wood floors. This brings the dark wood up to the top half of the room creating balance against the white walls. The green dishes adds a bit of light color to create contrast within the shelving. The brown, green, and white combo gives a very natural look to this home.

Black and Brown

Image: MattBlackInc

This small library space incorporates many natural elements, including dark wood, stone flooring, and natural light from the skylight above. The skylight gives the dark flooring the light it needs to keep the space open and bright.

Deep Blue

Image: ETC. etera

This dark blue flooring balances the stark white from these bathroom walls and soaking tub. The contrast makes the vaulted ceilings seem even taller.

Contrast Kitchen

To successfully style this bright kitchen, the designer went with dark knobs and pulls to offer some dimension to the room. The dark floors and muted blue rug make the white cabinets and appliances easier on the eye. With too much light reflecting, the room could be too bright during the day.

Pop of Red

The dark hardwood floors in this dining room look beautiful and keep the environment grounded, while the natural lighting from the tall windows reflects off of the light grey walls. Adding color through furniture like this family did with red chairs will help add variety to the design.

Dark Neutrals

The brown flooring with grey undertones in this bathroom isn't very dark but it does create contrast against the light-colored walls and will help give the space more dimension. When installing dark floors, you don't always need to go with a dark brown. Try other colors, like grey, black, or even dark blue.

Blue Tile


The blue tile in this bathroom floor adds style to a colorful room. Colored bathroom flooring is becoming more and more popular as the all-white bathroom trend has begun to wane.

This article highlights a hand-picked selection of work by a variety of designers and builders and is meant to showcase their talent. Please drop us a line if you would rather not be featured on this page.

Article Categories: Interior Design, Design Tips And Trends

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