NY Good Questions Will Dark Hardwood Floors Make the Room Look Smaller Apartment Therapy

NY Good Questions: Will Dark Hardwood Floors Make the Room Look Smaller?

Dear AT,

I am buying an apartment and am planning to replace the floors.

The apartment is on the 2nd floor and faces north, which means it gets average sunlight.

I love dark hardwood floors, but am worried that putting them in will make the room look smaller.

I’m planning on painting the walls either a slate gray or light taupe, so hopefully the walls will open the room up?


I think it would look great with dark floors! ive never really beleived that dark colors make a space look smaller. its more about how you use dark colors. If it has a good balance (like a lighter wall color and white ceiling) it should work.

The problem with dark floors and light walls is that it creates a very definite horizon line. This puts a cap on the space. If the walls and floors are closer in tone it reads to your eyes a more limitless, as if the space expands beyond the walls and floors. This is not to say that dark floors and light walls cannot be amazing. Hell, my VERY small living room is a grey called steel wool. But once you make the decision to go dark with an element, you have to embrace it is all. I think this works since you don’t have the most light anyway. Go for intimate as opposed to airy.

Dark floors won’t neccessarily make the room look smaller, but dark floors will show every spec of dust, so you will have to vacum a lot more often (like every day).

I agree that its all about how you treat the dark colours in the room. I think that creating a colour sheme that has continuity, you will be fine. I also have a long lounge with dark floors. Everyone thought i was mad to paint one wall a deep purple grey, but at night the room is both cozy and seemingly limitless. Do it!

I just moved into an apartment with dark wood floors in the bedroom. Much sweeping has ensued. I do like how they look right after they’ve been swept though

I have dark floors, and am definitely a supporter of them. However, in your case I would hesitate. with your lower light levels and grey walls, I would go with a medium wood like Brazilian Cherry.

In our home, we have mostly white walls and a western exposure (with some good eastern light too). One bedroom is a light sagey green, the equivalent of grey, and it really is too much. In fact, we will be painting the walls white, wth only an accent wall in a darker colour (we have a very dark accent wall in the living room, and it is gorgeous).

I agree with monika1. Yes, the floors will look dirty quickly, but mostly it’s a light issue for me. Your space is dark to begin with and doing a dark floor and a matching monotone grey wall would make the room oppressive, not cozy. The room looks cozy already because of the minimal light that you get. I’d make the floors a medium or dark walnut instead of chocolate black and keep the walls light-either a light grey or the taupe you’re thinking of and then fill up the walls with very colorful paintings and art.

Start by asking yourself the question I always ask clients: «Is this a day time or a night time space (predominately)?»

If a night time space, don’t sweat «too dark» and just make sure you pay as much attention to your lighting plan as to your color choices.

I think your *combo* of wall color and flooring choice may indeed make the place close up a bit and swallow some light. But dark floors *on their own,* not so much.

I love dark hardwood floors, they give a room more quality and make it more comfortable. I have to disagree with you color choice. You have to go into a different direction there.

To avoid that the room feels small or dark you schould go with a more friendly tone. Check out Ralph Laurens «Mother of Pearl». Very important as well is that you consider not to overload the room with furniture, a dark wooden floor needs to shine, so you can really feel it’s presence and said qualities.

I agree, I think dark floors are gorgeous, especially if you are thinking of going with that block style parquet look.

As for your space being of northern light, I would just make sure that you have lots of light colored objects in the room such as side tables or even chadeliers (ie, the traditional type lights that are painted monochrome white) to bounce the light around.

Another idea for bouncing light around that I saw years ago in a magazine is to paint all the walls that have a window on them white (especially outside walls), while painting all the others in your color of choice.

I’m new here and hope that helps!

I love the look of dark wood floors (and have them at home) but i would advise you to ensure you have the budget for the increased lighting you may want. I know i wished i had.

I do not think dark floors make a space look small. I think it’s too vague of a misconception.

I’d keep the walls lighter if you want to open the room up. The floor will simply serve as your canvas.

And, agree lighting will be key.

As for dust. My light floors get so dusty so fast! I only wish I was cleaning dark floors every other day!

Lovely space.

Very dark or very light floors are the way to go. Flooring is the blank canvas of the room. Walls can be painted, but replacing or refinishing floors is an expensive endeavor. If you are worried about the dark floors making the room oppressive, be sure to use a high gloss finish. This creates depth and reflections in the dark floor. If you still feel the room needs to «lighten up», use a large light colored area rug to create contrast and give the room a lift. Few things look more striking than a large light taupe or sand area rug against a very dark wood floor. Check out some of Kelly Hoppen’s work for some really great examples of rooms with dark floors that look bright and beautiful.

Also, if you do go with dark floors, keep the walls on the very light side. If you do want an accent wall that is darker, use ONE of the walls perpendicular to the windows. The wall opposite the windows should be as light as possible to allow the maximum amount of light to bounce around the room.

2 more things for you to consider:

- I have found that in low-light situations full-spectrum paint is a much better solution than regular paint. This is because regular paint usually goes grayer in low-light situations (it only has 3 or 4 pigments on average, often black, which helps push the colour towards grey). However, in my experience at least, full-spectrum paint colours because they are composed of up to 13 or 14 different pigments, actually changes colour in different light conditions, with different pigments in the paint colour brought out or highlighted by different light levels and qualities. There are a number of companies that produce full spectrum paints, with lots of posts on AT about them; the one I use is Donald Kaufman Color, who is an expert in formulating beautiful whites (he has done many of the major museums and galleries).

-the next really hot thing in flooring is hard wax flooring. It’s a product that is so natural and matte, it seems almost raw and unprotected. Can’t say enough how beautiful these floors are; they are very popular in Europe.

Here are some companies:

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