"Dark Colors Eat Light"

Those four words changed my world and provided a great lesson I had to share. 

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I set out to buy a new sofa for our family room. The existing blue sofa had seen better days and was never long enough for my 6’ 2” tall husband’s golf nap – so we set out to find a suitable replacement in the same color scheme so I wouldn’t have to redo the entire room. 

We ended up at a furniture store that had fabric samples, offering a variety of couch styles upholstered in an assortment of colors and textures. We made our couch style selection, now we were debating over the color. The particular couch in the showroom was in pewter gray – not the deep, rich blue I had my heart set on. 

That’s when the salesman casually stated “Dark colors eat light”, and that stopped me in my tracks! I had found this very concept to be true in my current home when they installed the deep rich espresso cabinets in the kitchen. I hadn’t thought to apply this same principle to my family furniture. Why would I? The dark blue, bright red combination had been fine in my previous house. Then I thought about it – the couch was previously in a two-story family room with two walls of windows, 20’ tall. I’m guessing we had at least 16 windows in that room. Needless to say, it was not lacking for natural light.

Ah, but the new house has only four windows in the family room - so maybe I really should rethink the color of the couch. After all, haven’t I been telling my builder clients about the affect aging has on our eyes? That a sixty-year-old needs six times as much light as a 20-year-old (Not saying I’m that old – just saying)? I guess it was time to take my own advice.

We bought the couch and accompanying chair. Naturally that lead to us taking it a step further and getting rid of the dark blue rug and espresso color coffee table in favor of a red rug and light gray foot rests 

The lesson on dark colors and lighting applies to both finishes and furnishings. Always ensure that you have ample natural and artificial light if you choose dark colors. This light-flooded bathroom from Elevate Homes is a great example of just that. There is also a high degree of contrast between the countertop and floor – both light and reflective in color, balancing out the dark cabinets and shower wall tile in a timeless and dramatic fashion.

With optimized lighting and light surfaces that contrast with the darker cabinets and shower tile, this dramatic bathroom is anything but dreary.

I was recently told that espresso was the second most popular cabinet color for kitchens (white being number one). The problem with kitchens tends to be a lack of natural light as the need for upper cabinets is amplified by the openness of our kitchen islands - making it difficult to squeeze in windows. I recommend lighting both above and below the cabinets along with recessed can lights and pendent fixtures. It is better to have more light than you need than not enough of it! With ample light choices, your customers can choose how much light they need – which changes throughout the day and the season. Once they’ve moved in, it is difficult and expensive to add more lighting. 

It's no secret that I love deep rich colors with lots of contrast. Now, I’m learning how to balance my bold color preferences with natural and artificial light.