Dark Furniture, Light Furniture, or Both?

Dark or light? That’s a question you may ask yourself when it comes to choosing a furniture piece.

Many factors come into play when choosing the overall color tone of a room, particularly in pieces of furniture.


Dark is dramatic

Darker colors often correlate to somberness, a sense of drama, or both. From the darkened interiors of Gothic and Victorian homes, to the furnishing of a courtroom, we tend to associate darkened surroundings with somberness and seriousness.

To evoke that same sense of classic dramatic awe in your décor, choose darker sofas, armchairs, tables, and other furnishings in deep oak, dark walnut, warm brown, or rich black.


Light = inviting


Light furniture doesn’t mean white furniture. Light furnishings can be wood tones in birch, light or bleached oak, and white/cream laminate.

Lighter-colored furnishings can help create a lighter mood and a contemporary feel. If you don’t believe us, consider TV sitcoms that take place in bright living rooms or offices, while courtroom dramas and police procedurals tend to be dark and moody. (If you’ve hadn’t noticed this before, you will now!)


More than mood


There are other reasons for choosing either light or dark-colored furnishings.

If you have kids, pets, or both, lighter furnishings will easily show dirt or stains. If you’re a neatnik, high visibility means you can clean those spots more readily. But if you’re not, those unsightly spills and other messes will quickly become an eyesore.

On the flip side, darker furnishings are better for concealing mishaps and accidents until you finally get around to cleaning up.


Other design factors to consider

So far, we’ve mostly mentioned furniture, but there are 3 other principal design aspects to consider:

  • Color & Tone
  • Pattern & Texture
  • Size & Scale

Let’s take a closer look at each one.


Color & Tone

Color and tone play a large part in interior design.

The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. Mixing them creates a rainbow of shades, such as blue and red to make purple, blue, and yellow to create green, and yellow and red to create orange. Pastels are lighter versions of these colors mixed with white. Combining purple with white creates lavender, orange with white makes apricot, etc.

Conversely, mixing primary colors with black creates dark, earthy tones. Black and purple make a warm eggplant color; black with green creates a rich hunter green.

And what about tones? Earth tones are also mostly light-colored, with hues of beige, sand, and tan. Yes, there are dark earth tones such as deep brown and moss green, but overall, earth tones tend to be lighter.

And there is no such thing as plain white. Warm white, cool white, eggshell, cream — the list goes on.

Needless to say, different color(s) and tone(s) can make a big difference, which leads to our next category.


Patterns & Texture


Patterns mix more than one color and can change how a single color looks.

The more colors in a pattern, the more variation there can be. And let’s not forget the size and type of the design. The same colors in a large floral pattern can appear much different when in a plaid. And the result can have different degrees of light, dark, or a mix in the middle.

Texture plays a huge role in the overall mood of a room. Sleek laminate, polished chrome, metal, or rigid plastic pieces have little or no texture, while naturally grainy woods, tweed upholstery, and nubby carpets and rugs offer plenty of texture. Texture can even be found in pillows, blankets, and artwork, too.


Size & Scale

There are many aspects to consider, starting with the size of your room: large or small?

Larger rooms call for larger pieces or more pieces, while smaller rooms lend themselves toward smaller pieces and fewer or multifunctional pieces. And are your pieces the same in scale? A room-filling sectional looks silly next to a spindly chair.

Going back to the original question: light, dark, or both?
If you want to create a solemn atmosphere, choose darker, and light for a more playful feel.

But yes, you can choose both!



Light walls, such as tan or gray, are a perfect backdrop for dark woods and laminates. A bright pop of red sofa in a black room with black side tables is a bold and daring design choice.

Dark furniture mixed with a white rug and white elements on the wall creates a fresh, almost Scandinavian look that’s as inviting as it is beautiful.

Bleached oak combines with overall industrial-feeling pieces of metal and walls of exposed brick. But a dark entertainment center offers an intriguing contrast.

Although it’s up to you, just ensure that your room elements are within the same tone. A bright, cool white sideboard contrasts (and not in a good way) with warm, creamy walls.

And don’t forget that much like different pieces of jewelry can switch up an outfit, accent pieces, throw pillows, rugs, and lamps are easy to switch up to create the look you desire without breaking the bank.