Decorating with dark paint colors

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Sarah Dorio


If you’ve seen the cover of our August 2014 catalog, you’ve probably noticed that we’re digging dark paint colors this season. It’s certainly a different look than you usually see in the catalog, and a dark wall color can feel intimidating! Which is why we sat down with the master of using dark paint colors himself, Brian Patrick Flynn of Flynnside Out Productions

Interior Designer Brian Patrick Flynn

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Rustic White Photography

Ballard Designs: Tell us about yourself.

Brian Patrick Flynn: My name is Brian and I come from Florida and I am a decorator and I have an Instagram and I have a Facebook.

Using dark paint colors beautifully

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Sarah Dorio for Hayneedle

BD: Yes, yes, we enjoy you on social media and we also see that you are quite the fan of using dark colors. Tell us about that, Mister.

BPF: My name is Brian, I come from Florida, I am a decorator, I have an Instagram and a Facebook, and I prefer charcoal, black and dark green over whites, creams and pastels. Why? Because I was born and raised in Florida, the Motherland of pastels and light colors, and now I do everything opposite of what I was exposed to in my youth. When I transform a room, I really want it to evoke a ton of emotion, and dark colors are not only an amazing designer tool for adding dramatic flair, they’re also a huge help in making small spaces, oddly proportioned spaces, or spaces with super low ceilings feel larger. Case in point, the dining deck of my country house in the north Georgia mountains. It ain’t big, y’all. In fact, it’s kinda pint-sized, but I painted the exterior walls, rails and pergola black, added chocolate drapery, stained the deck super dark brown, and then furnished it with black iron furniture. The outcome is chic and completely deceptive because you don’t even notice how tight the 8-foot-by-9-foot area is, you just focus on the dreamy, dark play on color. [BOOM]

Using dark paint colors beautifully

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Sarah Dorio for Hayneedle

Decorating with dark paint colors

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Sarah Dorio

BD: What are your go-to dark paint colors?

BPF: Seriously? That’s like asking me to name a favorite child. Something which I will do right here: my friend Allison’s son, Calvin, and my friend Christina’s daughter, Madeline. As far as paints go, my favorite black is Onyx Black by Glidden; my favorite dark greens are Deepest Woodland Green by Glidden (forest green) and Guacamole by Benjamin Moore (olive green). In the tiny little writer’s cabin of my mountain house, I used a super weird shade of pea green from Sherwin-Williams called Bengal Grass which reads almost kinda lime in the mornings, and then becomes dramatic and dark after the sun crosses over the roof around 3:45pm. I wish I used this room more often, but it’s more like a space for guests or a space for me to have my photo taken while I post stuff on Instagram. See, look, I have a photo right here below to demonstrate.

Decorating with dark paint colors

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Rustic White Photography

Navy wall color in master bedroom

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Zeke Ruelas

BD: What is a dark color that’s glamorous but people may not immediately associate it with glamour.

BPF: Navy! I think it’s name is misleading because it may instantly bring to mind visions of ships and nautical rope and oceans. I say hogwash. To me, navy is like the gender-neutral dark tone. It’s super stunning with pink, not to mention totally preppy, and you also can’t wrong with it when paired with red. My friend Carley and I are both avid fans of red, white and blue color schemes, and I think that particular combo can also go femme or super masculine depending on the textures and fabrics chosen.

Navy wall color in bedroom

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Sarah Dorio

BPF: My pied a terre in the Hollywood Hills (I’m not rich or anything, the place is the size of three pairs of flip flops and has no air conditioning) is covered in navy, red, brown and white and it makes me so happy. It’s moody, but it’s also kinda happy and bright because when the sun hits the blue, it becomes kind of electric. Rich Navy from Glidden is probably my favorite paint color.

Brian Patrick Flynn uses medium-tone fabrics for upholstery because they stand up to wear better

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Zeke Ruelas

BD: What are your thoughts on using dark fabrics?

BPF: My thoughts are that you should always use dark fabrics forever and ever and ever. Well, maybe not if you have a small white dog that sheds as often as Seattle rains. But I love to use dark fabrics on walls, then stick with medium tones for upholstery simply because medium tones tend to hide dog hair and accidents better than super dark colors. I think greys and taupes and grey-browns and medium blue-greys and green-greys are amazing at still looking maybe kinda darkish, but much more practically than straight-up black or dark green or navy. I’m actually finishing up the installation of my own bedroom right now, and I’ve covered the wall behind the bed with woolen plaid that’s got forest green, navy and black in it; it’s great on a wall because no one can sit on it. The effect is super masculine, totally traditional and also kinda lumberjack-y, totally befitting of this phase I’m currently going through where I use tons of rustic stuff and then I also sometimes wear suspenders and/or flannel shirts with no belt. Look, here are photos of me finishing up the installation of said master bedroom and showcasing my dubious fashion choices.

Using dark fabrics on the wall

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Rustic White Photography

Decorating with dark paint colors

Interior Design by Brian Patrick Flynn; Photography by Rustic White Photography

Thank you so much, Brian, for sharing your tips with us! Your spaces are cozy and energizing, all at the same time! We don’t know how you do it.

Learn more about Brian Patrick Flynn and Flynnside Out Productions, or visit his blog!