There’s no denying a new season’s upon us – the nights are drawing in and the clocks have just turned back. I always feel inspired by the new beginnings that Autumn brings. For both my interior design inspiration and from a personal perspective, it’s a chance to switch things up and embrace new opportunities. One such opportunity for me is writing this blog. I’ve wanted to create a space to share my interiors and styling advice for a long time, and now, I’m thrilled to have finally taken the plunge.

If you’re reading this after following my @sandrockhouse Instagram, you’ll know I’m devoted to the dark side when it comes to interiors – it’s my signature style. I’m hooked on the way dark walls can add drama and glamour but also create a cosy, warm feel to a space. Yet I totally get that going dark can feel daunting at first. But there are so many ways to incorporate dark touches in your home and trust me, it can instantly elevate a room.


Philippa sat on a leather seat


"I’m hooked on the way dark walls can add drama and glamour but also create a cosy, warm feel to a space."


If you’re unsure where to start, dark hues don’t have to mean black or grey - rich navy blues, earthy greens and deep burgundies are a contemporary way to introduce dark tones. One of the questions I get asked most by my customers and clients is for the name of the paint I used to create the striking blue-black of Sandrock House interior and exterior – it’s Railings by Farrow & Ball. I honestly think it’s one of the easiest dark hues to work with.

The best news about going dark? Size doesn’t matter either. Even smaller rooms that don’t catch much natural light can be transformed with strong colours. In fact, smaller rooms with dark walls can look more intentional and intimate than if they were painted white – think a dark, restful, cocooning bedroom, a reading nook with a vintage club chair, statement egg chair or an elegant, purposeful snug or study.
So read on for my first in a series of three blogs featuring my top hints and tips for taking your home over to the dark side…

All About Balance

Contrast is key – consider painting a dark accent wall if you don’t want to go all in. Against a dark backdrop, I always aim to incorporate paler, lighter furniture and homewares to create balance. Pairing an ecru or white leather sofa or white boucle armchair against a darker backdrop really makes these statement pieces pop.  

White sofa with cushionsAMALFI WHITE LEATHER SOFA

A beautiful, oversize sofa featuring classic mid-century details, clean lines and upholstered in buttery off-white leather, complete with four matching oblong bolster cushions.



Upholstered in a luxurious creamy bouclé fabric, this sleek armchair has a contemporary, transparent acrylic frame and upholstered armrests.


I achieved this effect in my previous renovation by painting my living room walls in a luxury rich navy, Basalt by Little Greene, and lightening up the scheme with a pair of pale linen sofas. Adding a leather armchair can also add lustre to a darker corner. 

living room dark blue

Rich warm walls in another of my dark favourites, Basalt by Little Greene.


For a more contemporary feel, paring dark furniture against a deep, rich backdrop can be a really striking interior update. I’ve recently sourced an ebonised bank of drawers with a contrasting marble top and glass-fronted vintage ebonised bookcases for Sandrock House that would be perfect for creating this dark-on-dark look. Or if your style is more playful, a colour-pop chair can add vibrancy against a darker backdrop or a sleek dining table can add drama.



Sleek clean linens and neat proportions, this mid-century inspired, armless chair is upholstered in striking Zoffany Domino Trellis fabric. 


If you prefer an overall lighter aesthetic, then consider opting for dark pieces of furniture instead to achieve a sense of depth, glamour, and luxury to your interior without committing to a dark paint colour on the walls. This can be very effective at making your  space feel more sophisticated and inviting. A dark sofa for instance will serve as a focal point and add opulence. 


black boucle 3 seater sofa


A lavish combination of Hollywood regency glamour and luxury, this three seater sofa features a scalloped backrest and a brass-finished base, and is upholstered in soft black boucle. 



Effortlessly cool, this sofa is the ultimate contemporary take on the traditional Chesterfield style. Crafted from soft Argentinian leather featuring deep-buttoning, it's a statement piece in itself.

Using a layering technique is great for a quick room update too – in a dark space simply add pastel-toned cushions, blankets or faux-fur throws to instantly add softness. Faux or real botanicals instantly bring a space to life. If you’re looking for inspiration, our collection of homewares and furniture at Sandrock House is tailored towards this aesthetic. Here are some of our current favourites, but for our full range, browse our collection of home accessories here



For more inspiration on how to create a balanced, dark aesthetic, visit us at Sandrock House in Dorking's historic West Street to view our range of carefully curated statement lights, antique and vintage furniture, lighting and homewares. 


Sandrock House Interiors and Furniture shop dorking

Visit us at Sandrock House in Dorking's West Street. 

 Stay tuned for part two of this blog where I'll delve deeper into the other styling elements I incorporate in dark interiors to create the Sandrock House aesthetic. And please, do sign up to our 'Sandrock House Insights' newsletter here to be the first to hear about our next blog post, latest news, special offers and to receive a 10% discount off your first order online at Sandrock House.



October 24, 2023 — Philippa McFarlane

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