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Making gothic or noir design work at home

From the Resene decorating blog

Moody, gothic or noir interiors are having something of a comeback.

Where the upheavals and constant change of modern life has driven many of us towards lighter, breezier interiors connected to the outdoors, they have also driven many of us to darker, moodier cocooning spaces where we can retreat and recharge.

A simple black lounge - noir style

Keeping the colour palette simple, makes these walls painted in Resene Invincible all the more dramatic so the lighter decor pieces almost glow. The floor is painted in Resene Friar Greystone, the cabinet and coffee table planter are Resene Black Sand, the coffee table, small vase, taller vase (on cabinet) and the larger planter are Resene Stepping Stone and the ball vase is Resene Outlaw. Sofa from Target Furniture, throw from H&M Home, grey cushion with squares, lumbar cushion and grey linen cushion cover from Freedom. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

While classic gothic design tends toward the maximalist with ornate decoration, stained glass and heavy oak furniture, modern gothic is sleeker and lighter. It’s appearing more and more in design narratives as ‘dark academia’, a fascinating, and even, fun combination of drama, romance and preppy studiousness.

Gothic interiors aren’t just for teenagers who want to paint their bedroom black! It can be a fun way to explore a sense of comfort, cosiness and calm in your own home. Here are a few daring and dark design ideas from Resene to get your gothic look underway.

The colour palette

Darker, colour saturated shades are a natural fit for a dark academia inspired interior, but that needn’t mean black on black.

If you do want to aim for a dark foundation colour, remember that just as there are different types of white, ‘black’ can also come in shades of ‘off-black’ that tint towards deep browns such as Resene Dark Chocolate, charcoal greys such as Resene Night Magic, blues such as Resene Carpe Noctem and even greens such as Resene Welcome.

Interior with black textured anaglypta wallpaper

Textured anaglypta wallpaper, such as this design Resene Wallpaper Collection RD0137, gives this wall plenty of classic gothic glamour when painted in a dark shade like Resene Black Sand.

The glamour is amped up with glimmering highlights in the light fittings and table. Try Resene Gold Dust to add shimmering metallic gold touches.

Black battens - layering different blacks

Adding details like these wooden battens let you play with layers of different blacks without overwhelming your room.

The walls are painted in Resene Nocturnal with battens in Resene Half Tuna. The floor is stained in Resene Colorwood Dark Oak. The two table tops are Resene Half Tuna, the tealight holder is Resene Tom Tom, the rounded bowl vase is Resene Martini, the taller vase is Resene Tom Tom and the smaller round vase is Resene High Tea. Sofa from King, mirror from Freedom, pink cushion cover from H&M Home, throw from Allium. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick.

Work them into a classic monochrome finish with either sleek crisp whites like Resene Aoraki or soften the edges with a creamier contrast in Resene Meringue. Using a Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss finish on trim areas in your chosen Resene white will also help ease the intensity of your off-black walls.

If these almost-blacks are a step too sombre, you can still capture the same sense of seclusion and luxury with deep jewel colours like Resene Deep Teal, paired with true sapphire blue Resene Plan B. Dark reds also work particularly well on a gothic-influenced interior. Resene Pohutukawa plays well with charcoal shades like Resene Invincible, while brick red Resene Savour looks good with the antique look of Resene Liquid Gold for old-school glamour.

Warm, olive-toned greens like and muted grey blues are a good option if you want a subtly noirish room without going full dark. Try the stormy grey of Resene Baring Head with off-white Resene Merino or Resene Field Day with coppery Resene Scoria.

The feel you’re trying to create with your gothic colour palette is one of seclusion and comfort, so opt for tonal or muted layers, rather than vivid contrast or intensely bright shades.

Top tip:  Use a low-sheen or matte finish, such as Resene SpaceCote, when painting your wall colours for a suede-like, almost tactile effect that will soften the edges of your gothic room.

Tips for designing with dark colours

Whether you’re using a jet black or an almost-black, and whether you’re using it as your main wall colour or as a highlight, there are lots of ways of softening the impact of dark colours so they feel inviting and appealing, rather than overwhelming.

If you have furniture, flooring or fittings in a wood finish, consider staining surfaces with Resene Colorwood Pitch Black or a different dark shade like Resene Colorwood Dark Ebony. On ply-clad walls a dark stain still gives you the drama and impact of a black palette, while allowing the wood grain to show through, lightening and lifting the finished effect.

A mossy green bedroom with black accents

Deep mossy green Resene Waiouru painted on the bedroom wall with black accents and plush soft furnishings lend this room subtle gothic notes.

The lighter wall colour is painted in Resene Eighth Black White and the floor is Resene Black White. The wall shelf is Resene Waiouru and the door and picture frame are Resene Nero. Bedlinen from Kinship, sink, faucet, mirror and soap dispenser from Plumbline, bedside cabinet from Bed Bath and Beyond, brush from Everyday Needs, towels from H&M Home. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

Using deep purples for a gothic finish

Deep, sultry purples make a good alternative to blacks and charcoals for a sophisticated gothic finish.

These bedroom walls are painted in Resene Gun Powder, the floor is in Resene Avalanche and the cabinet is Resene Chapta And Verse. The vases are, from left, painted in Resene Couture, Resene Steam Roller and Resene Mamba. The platters on the wall are painted in Resene Sumptuous and Resene Couture. Project by Claudia Kozub, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Golden stained flooring in shades like Resene Colorwood Natural or Resene Colorwood Oregon (the finished colour result will depend on your flooring timber) can also give dark walls a dramatic lift, particularly when skirtings are painted in a cool white like Resene Black White.

Alternatively embrace the classic gothic look with darker timber finishes in Resene Colorwood Mahogany or Resene Colorwood Deep Oak with creamier contrasting trim in Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream and muted walls in moody brown Resene Piazza.

Darker wall colours also form a much better background for paintings and artworks than white. Finding a dramatic piece that you love can be a really simple way to set the scene for your gothic space; and if you can’t find one why not have a go at painting one and frame it with an ornate vintage frame from a second-hand shop.

Remember, when you makeover a space in any dark or dramatic colour is that it can make the room feel very different – and that can take some time to adjust to. If you’re not sure your bold colour choice is the right one, don’t panic. Leave it for at least a week and see how you feel.

Don’t be put off your commitment to a modern gothic look by thinking the darker colour scheme won’t work if you have smaller rooms. Choosing the right dark shade can actually help blur the edges of the room, and make the walls recede from the eye. Just keep the room simply decorated with a minimal amount of furniture.

Finishing touches

Successfully giving your room a suitably gothic or noir feel, will often come down to how you accessorise and finish the space.

Think about ways you might be able to bounce more light around the space, such as with a few glass or metallic surfaces, and soften the impact of your dramatic colours with soft, billowy curtains in a lighter shade.

The type and colour of your lighting will play an important part too. A soft wash of warm light over dark walls can seem mysterious and cosy, whereas lighting that is too blue-hued and bright can make some blacks or dark shades seem too stark.

If you want to layer lots of blacks or dark colours, then work with texture to break things up visually and give your space extra dimension. Softer, luxurious fabrics like satin, fine wool or velvet in lighter shades will also provide contrast for the eye. Try soft pink throws against a charcoal-dominant space in Resene Bokara Grey or pale blue decor pieces in Resene Half Cut Glass against midnight blue walls in Resene Coast.

Fun idea:  If your kids are fans of Halloween and gentle spookiness, stencil friendly ghost shapes on to the walls of their bedrooms in Resene FX Blackboard Paint, as a fun and functional idea.

Modern gothic looks can add simple glamour to your rooms and create spaces that are both fun and relaxing to be in. Think beyond the sombre, cold rooms of the grim old houses in classic novels and look for simple colour palettes and clean lines that bring gothic and noir sensibilities into the 21st century.

Resene Meringue

Resene Stepping Stone

Resene Aoraki

Resene Friar Greystone

Resene Field Day

Resene Baring Head

Resene Liquid Gold

Resene Piazza

Resene Outlaw

Resene Savour

Resene Plan B

Resene Welcome

Resene Invincible

Resene Carpe Noctem

Resene Night Magic

Resene Black Sand

Resene Dark Chocolate

November 16, 2022

For help choosing colours to suit your projects, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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