Lives in Dark Rooms

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My friends and two grown-up children helped me arrange everything. We blacked out the windows with paper and cloth. I took out most of the lightbulbs and blocked the oven glass with tinfoil. Friends brought weekly groceries and essentials. I bought a small laptop to watch TV — even with that, I have to wrap up in blankets before I switch it on.

I spend 18 hours a day in total darkness. There are times when exposing myself to light is unavoidable, of course. I refuse to live without fresh air, so I go for a walk at 5am each morning, as the streetlamps are going off but before the sun has risen. When I go to hospital, I wrap up similarly.

Once, I was in there two hours. At home, I have a cap with a torch attached, which I use for 15 minutes at a time — while preparing food, painting, washing. I let my beard grow. Going out to socialise is impossible, but family and friends bring new people to visit. I have a dinner party every Thursday. We sit in the dark and eat, laugh, play piano. In the dark on my own I listen to audiobooks or work out. I refuse to mope. In addition to the emotional response to natural and artificial light, you can use light to create an improved impression of space.

Light creates the illusion of space, even when it is limited.

A long, dark hallway can be dramatically changed by the introduction of a series of wall washers. The arcs of light that roll along the wall create pattern and expand space.

8 Home Decor Tricks to Brighten a Dark Room

Artificial light allows you to choose from a very narrow cone of light to a wide cone that floods a wall or the floor. Other ways to create dimension are by using light valances or concealed light ropes. This was extremely popular in the s and s. In the s, skylights became the rage and most also included some type of hidden lights that illuminated the area well in the evening hours. Besides artificial light, remember your selection of window and door types determine how natural light will flood a room.

In some areas of the nation, local building codes control the number of windows that one can use; energy calculations take into account air conditioning and heating usage. For example, in Southern California energy use is high when the sun-drenched landscape generates huge demand for air conditioning in the hotter months. Architects are not allowed to plan windows without governance regarding the overall energy usage. Still, certain lot orientations or architectural details might demand more creative methods of introducing natural light on the interior.

Consider skylights, as shown in this narrow and potentially dark bathroom. Another extremely popular devise is the solar tube. The coffee table was built by the home owner, who topped it with a vintage Danish gym mat. The rug and cushions are by Larussi. Sumptuous blue velvet chairs and a vibrant red Persian rug add contrasting pops of colour, preventing this space from looking dreary. Find similar mid-century chairs at Da Silva Antiques.

This is the Cesar stool by Minotti. Basket, Skandium. The blue throw is by Designers Guild. An elegant blue makes the art on the walls stand out, and despite being a dramatic colour, it feels surprisingly calm. The space is filled with plump, button-backed blue chairs, swan-necked lamps and fringe-clad sofas. But here, the effect is bold, glamorous — and as enticing as a deep lagoon on a hot day. The abstract painting is by Jane Goodwin. Katherine found the lamp in a flea market in the South of France.

The fireplace has been lavished with the same grey shade as the walls, highlighting the original detailing. The skull on the wall adds drama while the armchair balances it with a bright and cheerful floral print.


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Interior by Tiffany Duggan of Duggan Interiors. The dark, moody tones of this reception room beautifully showcase the carefully curated furniture and accessories. The vintage fuchsia armchair is upholstered in a Designers Guild velvet; its Varese in Cassis is similar.

Black is the prevailing tone for the these walls. The faux-fur throw is from Restoration Hardware. Pinky undertones add warmth to this smokey grey room. Modern shelving and ceiling pendant gives a contemporary edge. The ladder shelving unit is from French Connection Home. The Art Deco horse-head lamp base was found in a Parisian flea market. The feathers of the taxidermy birds glow as brightly as the gilt mirror against the dark grey walls.

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At night, it looks cosy and in the day, it feels fresh because of the white on the ceiling and floor. Black-and-white monomania is given an adrenaline shot with unexpected colour injections, while details like gilt mirrors, taxidermy peacocks and anatomy prints on the walls honour the era of the property and its original features in a quirky, individual way.

The result is a working family home with an industrial edge. Get the look: The fire surround was created by Decorative Designs. The vintage mirror was inherited.

Additional Tips

The chandelier is an antiques-shop find. The blue sofa was bought on eBay and reupholstered. The coffee table is by Innes Cole. Offset by a daringly dark backdrop, an updated oriental weave pops with pure colour. Anchor with a Persian rug for full effect. Brass lighting pops against the black walls. This combination of gold and brass tones teamed with darks is a trick that can make any home look super-stylish, whether in a bathroom or a larger living space.

The mix of old with new is a great way of adding tension to a scheme, while keeping the look fresh.

Experience: I was a surrogate at 51

The throw is by New York-based textile designer Toyine Sellers. The floral cushion is by Martyn Thompson. This is the Highwire ceiling light by Apparatus. Sanded floor boards and white ceilings balance the smokey blue walls. The Small Snooze sofa is by Ochre.

Cool Dark Living Room

The coffee table is bespoke, made in Belgium from reclaimed flooring. Both high- and low-end artwork grace the purple walls. The original details, such as the embossed ceiling in the living room, are dressed in deep tones and the moody palette creates the perfect backdrop for unique finds and offbeat furniture. The Peacock chair was found at an antiques fair.

The sheepskin rug is from Bowron Sheepskins. The candleholders, lanterns and illuminated tree are all from Graham and Green. Oddities like the oversized angel, the sitting wood mannequin and large skull make a bold statement and add to the Gothic vibe. For a similar rug, try French Connection Home. A painterly palette of hues — ranging from sapphire to cerulean — layered with vivacious prints and patterns sets the tone for this fabulous family home.

Deep blue shades are made elegant and welcoming with complimenting velvet upholstered furniture. The mature fiddle leaf fig adds a contrasting pop of vibrant green, while the white ceilings keep the scheme fresh and prevent the space from being too overwhelming. The pouffe is by George Smith.