Are Dark Green Walls the New White Walls? (Short Answer: We Think Maybe)
***Written by Arlyn Hernandez
Remember that time that I wrote all about how much white walls are only for insanely boring people with no taste/personality? Okay, that’s not what I wrote, exactly, and I definitely do not agree with that statement. Interesting people can have white walls, too! In fact, I ::gasp:: might even paint my living room walls white (I know, I know, I’m a total and utter hypocrite), BUT let me explain. I have one of those long sort of narrow living rooms (a “before” post for that room is coming atcha in the new year, promise) that leads directly into a formal dining room, with a big dramatic arch separating both spaces. I love that front portion of my apartment because it’s very LA in that it’s a building from the 1920s full of original architectural details…and SO not South Florida (where I moved here from—a land devoid of any architectural interest unless you live in very specific areas—or have a certain income).
In that same if-you-like-white-walls-you’re-stodgy-and-stale post, I shared this photo from Dabito of Old Brand New that showed his BRIGHT YELLOW dining room walls through an arch from his white-walled living room and I was just so taken with that. It made the power of his paint choice so much more potent. I mean, if you’re about slathering a room in a saturated goldenrod hue, isn’t that the point? To make a statement? This got my gears turning for my own home…what if I went a similar route? Subtle and neutral in my living room, then POW IN YOUR FACE paint on the walls and ceiling of my dining room? The way the floor plan is set up, I feel like that room would be a magnet, drawing you in like a siren song through my lounge area. Yes, this could work.
While I battled with my false color virtues (was I really considering white after my “modern maximalist” sermon/plea?), I eventually got over myself and started digging through Instagram for inspirations, including rooms that I had already saved in the past. Very quickly, I realized a trend in my own bookmarked images as well as new finds: hunter green walls were a “thing.” For anyone rolling their eyes right now and haughtily saying to themselves this is not a new idea, you’re right but relax. No, dark green walls (with blue undertones) weren’t invented in 2018. I started seeing them creep up in the design zeitgeist about two years ago (in fact, I thought a similar shade was going to be the Pantone Color of the Year in 2017 before “Greenery”—an almost [radioactive] lettuce-like green—was announced), but it was a kind of a here-and-there thing.
White, blush and gray still reigned supreme, but I think the tide has shifted, and I’m saying it…green walls are the new white walls. Everyone from Leanne Ford—who designed the dining room in the lead of this post for her sister—to Sara Ruffin Costello (a personal style hero of mine) is nose-deep in the dark green walls book and I’m pounding on the door of that book club because I want in. Less because it’s “trendy” (I really hate that word) and more because it evokes the feeling I really want in my home: warm, welcoming, a little dramatic, and a little old world.
OKAY, ready to take a look at some of the rooms that are inspiring me/I hope will inspire you to shake things up if you’re on the hunt for something new? Let’s do this.
There is so much to love about this lounge/bar area in the Hotel Monte Cristo Paris. The floors. The rugs. THAT FRINGE. The delft-like tilework. Oh, and of course, that sexy, sexy green on the paneling. The fact that the color goes only about 3/4 up the wall keeps things light and airy (especially because some of the decor elements are much heavier here).
This shade of green does particularly well in rooms where sunlight washes into the space, missing some corners to create this mysterious vibe that I’m not hating in the least. Pale or well-worn wood tones play particularly well against this (as do speckled and aged ceramics…it’s that whole this-could-also-work-in-an-English-castle thing I always attempt to create in my homes, but then never actually do it and it ends up looking like a Crate & Barrel catalog…).
I tend to be drawn to the bluer of the dark greens, but this hue here is a little warmer (which I think works with the warmer tones of the wood chairs and farmhouse table). That is not to say a cooler shade would be a mistake, but it does feel a little more effortless…almost like both that wall and the dining set up have lived together for centuries.
There’s something about this deep, chalky green that BEGS to be smeared on EVERY surface. Choosing to paint your floors, baseboards, crown molding, built-ins and ceiling in the same moody hue is BOLD, but it’s one of those moves that seriously pays off. It’s like a scratch off lotto ticket you know will always win you $100,000 a year for life.
Here is an image I saved on my own Instagram and then reshared. In addition to the super punchy and color-block palette, I was drawn to the paint application on the ceiling, which is what I’m thinking of doing in my own dining room. It feels like the room is hugging you and a full “thought.” I don’t necessarily dislike a dark wall with white overhead, but it jolts the eye, for sure. If your ceilings are on the lower side and you don’t get a ton of light, maybe stick with white so things don’t feel super heavy, but should gorgeous natural light stream through your windows and you have some height to your room, I say go for the full-color room hug.
So here’s a room by the lovely Jenny Komenda of Juniper Studio (and owner of one of our favorite online art resources, Jenny’s Print Shop), that has a green wall sandwiched between a bright white baseboard and ceiling but it works so well because of the natural light. If the room were darker, the white might have ended up looking possibly dingy.
Oh god, now I’m a goner. Death by design envy. Stop reading what I’m saying right now (well, in 4 seconds when I finish my sentence) and just look at the ceilings here and those herringbone floors. The furniture is definitely…eclectic, but honestly, a plastic crate of paperclips would look artful in a space with this architecture. The dark wall color is what initially draws my eye, which then follows it up and down to ogle the dreamy woodwork.
We recently revealed a house tour from Erin Francois of Francois et Moi and her bedroom wall color selection was on point (for anyone wondering, this is Brooklyn by Behr).
To be honest, I’m not sure if this is actually dark green…maybe it’s a super inky blue, or maybe even charcoal, but the way the light hits it right around that dropped molding is just the feel I’m loving.
The guys are Consort know how to work a dramatic color, and while, again, the lighting in here is tricking my eye and I’m not entirely sure if this is green or blue, it’s a great example of leaning into the darker tones (like in the window shade and furniture) to create a rich, luxe space. I think when people go with a deep wall color, they feel more comfortable layering in brighter, contrast-y decor and furniture (white) as to not get too “cave-like,” but check your fear at the door people, because this is so beautiful, don’t you think?
Both of these images (above and below) are by the insanely talented Sara Ruffin Costello (of Domino fame if you’re an OG Domino fan). She has a knack for creating interiors that feel like they’ve been around for about two centuries that somehow got transported to present day and a super cool person moved in and added just a sprinkling of their modern-day belongings. ANYHOW, while this story is about dark green walls being trendy, I had to point out the genius technique of creating a GIANT faux baseboard. I mean, is there a possibility that this is actually a full baseboard that’s what I’m guessing is about 12 inches tall? Yes, but likely, it’s a standard rounded little baseboard common to older (not-so-grand) homes with an added molding/chair rail type piece, and then that, the baseboard and the wall space in between are all painted the same color to fake the look of a taaaalllll baseboard. GENIUS (quick note: I wouldn’t try this in a room with standard-height ceilings, let alone lower ceilings. This would really only work in a space with soaring ceilings).
Okay, back to green…I’ve been stuck in a place where I’m not sure what color curtains to put against my maybe-soon-to-be dark green dining room walls. I originally thought white linen or even more of a creamy bone linen drapery might be too shocking…too much of a contrast, but after seeing the juxtaposition of the canopy panels in Sara Ruffin Costello’s bedroom, I’m thinking it could work…and in fact be exactly what I’d want (I could also go rogue and do a tone-on-tone curtain, but I’m still chewing on all my options…).
SO…I’m dying to hear from you about what you think? Did I convince you to buy a ticket for the green-wall trend train? Which rooms do you think it works best in? And even more important (selfishly), I want to know…should I bite the bullet and go with a dark green in my dining room?? Of course, it might be hard for you to weigh in being that you’ve never actually seen my dining room, but let’s pretend you can imagine it perfectly based on my description from earlier on in the post…yay or nay on the dark green?
Let’s hear it! And while I have a few paint colors in mind, anyone have a color they’ved used and love? Sharing is caring!