Painting by Michaelangelo Carravaggio, “Lute Player,” 1596
Back when I was in design school, I was required to take art history and we studied the Renaissance and Reformation periods for what seemed like an eternity. I appreciated the beauty and work that went into those pieces, but we spent such a long time there, and looked at so many paintings of Mary and friends that they were all beginning to look the same. Thank Baby J one day the professor finally said, “moving on…” and with a click of the projector, (yes, it was a slide carousel. It did have a remote though, so see, I’m not that old.), a Carravaggio painting showed up on the screen. I wiggled and perked up in my seat, eyes widening: Well hello there late 16th century Baroque and Rococco. Where on Earth have you been hiding? If you’re not familiar, Carravaggio was an artist associated with this period and is often classified with the more well known Rembrandt, and some other Dutch dudes who are known for their dark, mostly black backgrounds and “spotlight” on the main subject of the scene (tenibrism).
Painting by Rachel Ruysch, Still Life with Flowers, Sun
The content was still religious for the most part, but now we were getting more still life and ordinary folk thrown in there too. The colors were bright and beautiful against the black backdrops, and the subjects sometimes creepy and dramatic, which I admittedly enjoy in art. You’re not so lame now professor. Way to pick it up.
Re-wind two years before this lecture, when I probably would have seen a lot of examples of this style had I gone to the Rembrandt museum in Amsterdam instead of hanging out in coffee shops forgetting where I was and the rules to a simple game of checkers. That Dutch coffee is so weird Mom. Anyway, I was kicking myself that day reminiscing on the missed opportunity.
I got the same excited feeling again, (the one from class, not from the coffee shop), when I started seeing these Carravaggio-esque interiors popping up this year. I’m loving this trend of dark painted walls, and dramatic florals against black backgrounds in wallpaper and art prints.
That bathroom is everything. She just added these silk throw pillows in the same pattern too, which I would totally buy if they weren’t $200 a pop. I would sooo French this pillow like a 12 year-old girl pretending to make out with that hottie in Biology class. Just kidding. A little.
Etsy print by kariharer, Flower Photograph No. 88242
“Party Animals” wallpaper by Anthropologie.
I love how the dark walls make these rooms look sophisticated and cozy, not cavernous. Just like the paintings, the wall colors are the backdrop and the bright, jewel toned furniture and accessories act as the “spotlight.” The high gloss walls in this room are killing me right now.
Simple dark charcoal:
Luscious red, tufted goodness right here. It looks great against those smoky blue walls.
I’m pretty sure whoever designed this room drew inspiration from this painting, one of my favorites by the artist Van Eyck:
You’re very welcome for the history lesson, and bonus: I took the liberty of gathering up some wall colors for you guys in case you’re thinking about doing a dark room:
However, I can’t guarantee that these colors will look awesome in your space. Check with your paint store designer for recommendations.
Have you ever been inspired by your favorite artwork when decorating a space? Any of you guys brave enough to do a dark room? I would love to see pics.