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Utilizing Dark and Light Furniture
by Terry Canup

Employing dark and light furniture is not just a trend.

While furniture does indeed run in fashion trends, there is more to it than that when utilizing light and dark furniture in your rooms. This is true no matter what style or design you are employing in your room. A Louie Phillipe bedroom group can look entirely different in white, than it does in espresso. The furniture can be exactly the same, but the results in the room dramatically different.
  Light Bedroom Group Dark Bedroom group
Note the light and dark groups in the same room and how your perception of the room changes

While this is an extreme example (because using all-white furniture can be a statement unto itself) the principal is sound. If you have a smaller room, and want to make it seem bigger, you can utilize lighter color furniture. Conversely, if you want to make a bigger room feel cozier, put darker furniture in it.

This is not simply a property of aesthetics, but a principal of ergonomics and physics. It has to do with how the eye perceives light and color. Lighter objects reflect external light cast upon them, back to the eye. The brain is able to see and distinguish more in the room. This gives the impression of a greater size. On the other hand, darker objects absorb the light cast upon them, causing the area to appear smaller and more closed in.
Dark Furniture - Light Room  Light Furniture - Dark Room
See how on these two shots the marketer has mirrored the light dark aspects of the two rooms

So if your goal is to make a large room feel more expansive, dress it in lighter furniture. It is why you often see advertising photos of apartments, frequently using modern white furniture, bathed in bright light. Libraries, on the other hand, which are generally enormous rooms, increase their feeling of comfort by using darker furniture and spot lighting. This gives a more inviting appearance to their users.

Light versionThe same can be done in your Dark
              versionhome. It does not have to be a dramatic difference. Combined with your lighting, you can use honey finish, light maple, or rustic pine to make a room feel bigger. Likewise, use cherry, espresso, or walnut to make the room seem more intimate.

Deciding how you want to represent the room, while important, is something you can choose on the fly, while looking at furniture. Sometimes, the best ideas are formed subliminally, on the spot. Just keep the concepts in the back of your mind.

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