Designers Share Their Favorite Tips for Decorating With Dark Floors

light airy living room with dark floors

Kate Marker Interiors

Going with dark flooring is a bold and dramatic move, but one that can turn heads when complemented by the perfect decor. We asked designers for their top tips for making dark floors work in any space, and they shared some of their go-to strategies for decorating a space to add balance and interest.

Keep Things Light

Too much of even the best things can overwhelm a room. If your floors are dark, you’ll want to go lighter with some of the other decorative items. But the contrast doesn’t have to be boring.

Olma Fuentes, the founder and principal of New Jersey-based Deni + Dove Interiors, recommends using lighter neutrals such as variations of cream, whites, taupes, and beiges. “This will have a dual effect—the dark wood will stand out more and your lighter furnishings will seem brighter,” she says. “Darker colors tend to have a receding effect, so the lighter color palette will also help make your room seem bigger and give it an airy feel.”

Go Modern

If you favor a moody, mysterious aesthetic, consider taking it from the top. Pair your dark floors with deep saturated paint tones to create a dramatic sultry effect. Carol Kurth, an architect and designer, suggests, “painting the walls and trim in the same color creates a feeling of added height and a modern look.”

And here is something she offers for a truly bold yet sophisticated look: “Top it off with a similar shade for the ceiling—or contrast the ceiling with a metallic wallpaper for some added shine.”

Add Texture

Darker flooring styles sometimes lack depth and look flat. If that is the case in your home, don’t worry: You can help balance the look with a trip to your home decor store. Zara O’Hare, an interior design consultant for Land of Rugs, says even little things can make a big difference.

“It's important to add texture to the room to balance it out,” she says. “Consider adding a plush rug or textured throw pillows to the space. This will not only add visual interest but also make the room feel more cozy and inviting.”

Even better, this option is easy to change when the seasons change or the mood strikes. 

Fix It With Furniture

A bigger investment that would also bring a larger impact is to replace the furniture in the room to lighten things up. Not everyone is going to be able to run out and change out the entire bedroom suite or living room setup, but if you are in the market anyway, doing so would amp up the contrast.

O’Hare emphasizes again that lighter is the way to go with furnishings. “Consider using light-colored furniture like a white sofa or light wood coffee table,” she says. This will create a beautiful balance in the room and prevent it from feeling too dark or heavy."

And it doesn’t have to be white or light if that doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Little kids and pets might not be the best mix with a snowy sofa. Raquel Kehler of makes the case for going bold. “Use colorful furniture for a pop of color. If you're a fan of bright colors, a few chairs in a shade like mustard or bright yellow make a beautiful accompaniment to dark floors,” she says. 

Going bright has its own lighter side, if you will. Kehler advises that “if you want to add color but don't like when it's too bright, stick to muted tones like dark turquoise or burnt orange.” Also, if you add a bright statement piece like a sofa or dresser, step back and take a look at the room as a whole. “Remember to add a few elements in that color elsewhere in the room to keep things cohesive, such as with a throw, decorative cushion, statement wall art, or even pendant lights,” she says.

Set Up a Showcase

Kurth touts using dark floors’ design strengths to work with art. Go with a few striking pieces on the walls or keep it more personal and set up a photo collage of black and white shows. “Pair the dark floors with a rich gray wall paint tone, with a slight sheen—create a gallery that’s memorable," she says. 

Add More With Doors

If your dark floors are in a bedroom or space with a door, you can turn it into an unexpected feature to help contrast with the flooring. “Love hardware? Stain your doors to match the floor or paint them to match your new saturated wall color and your hardware will shine,” says Kurth. “Selecting new door hardware is a great way to update and include some of the new finishes or two-tone effects,”

Light Things Up

Another important thing to remember with dark flooring is the types and amount of lighting in the space, especially if it doesn’t get a lot of natural light during the day. Designer Artem Kropovinsky emphasizes the importance of this. You don’t have to make it as bright as daylight, but do think about the room’s purpose and what activities happen there. “To create a well-lit area that highlights your flooring, think about combining ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting,” he says. 

Whatever design style suits your tastes, taking one (or more) of these tips will help you achieve balance with your beautiful darker floors.