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Get the Dark Academia Aesthetic with This Moody Color Palette (12 Fave Colors!)

    Hogwarts, Cambridge, mysterious mansions… It’s Dark Academia! This very specific moody aesthetic seemed like it might not catch on, but I think the vibe is here for a little while.

    Dark Academia Aesthetic Color Palette features 12 on-theme paint colors as outlined in the article.

    Here we will see my favorite 12 paint colors for achieving a Dark Academia feel in your home, plus a few more colors in inspirational rooms!

    Dark Academia… but make it achievable!

    What is Dark Academia?

    I would describe Dark Academia as a colorful gothic aesthetic, that’s also quite polished. Think modern day Victorian, but just a bit moodier.

    I say “colorful gothic” because goth typically entails black, white, and red, but Dark Academia is dominated by jewel tones.

    Dark Academia Aesthetic Color Palette features 12 on-theme paint colors as outlined in the article over a background of a vaulted cathedral ceiling

    Dark Academia – Where it Started

    According to Wikipedia, the trend started on Tumblr in 2015 from a book club, but the Google Trends chart clearly shows it taking off around August of 2020.

    Tik Tok definitely gets the credit for helping this one explode in popularity.

    Enough of the history lesson though! You’re most likely here because you already like it!

    Dark Academia – How It’s Going

    If you are new here, you should know that I live, eat, sleep, and breathe paint! Here are some of my favorite Dark Academia looks that I’ve come across (whether intentionally the vibe or not!) where the colors did not make the short list, but still deserve a mention.

    Dark Academia Inspired Living Room/Office

    I love this space by the team at ML Designs (@mldesignskc):

    Cascades on walls, ceilings, and trim in a dark academia reading room office library
    Photo Credit: @mldesignskc

    The color here is Sherwin Williams Cascades, which is not on the palette, but you can read more about it here: Fall in Love with Cascades by Sherwin Williams (Plus Photos of Real Homes!)

    The key to success in this room, was to totally commit and take the color onto the ceiling as well. That brings the look from “bold accent wall” to deep and moody “Dark Academia.”

    Exploring a Dark Academia Look in the Bedroom

    I wanted to show this bedroom because the color is also quite “Dark Academia” but did not make the short list, it is Sherwin Williams Iron Ore:

    Iron Ore on a bedroom feature wall with woodwork and a white bed in a Dark Academia inspired bedroom
    Photo Credit: @frommhouselove

    Dark Academia Kitchen Inspiration

    My favorite Dark Academia inspired kitchen is a color that did make the palette, but here are a couple of honorable mentions:

    Thunderous cabinets with quartzite countertops in a Dark Academia inspired kitchen
    Photo credit: @designingthedillons

    This kitchen isn’t really styled in Dark Academia per se, but I think the feeling is pretty on point. The color here is Sherwin Williams Thunderous.

    This is another kitchen where the styling isn’t on point for the aesthetic, but the cabinets are still selling it:

    Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom Kitchen Cabinets in a Dark Academia inspired kitchen
    Photo credit: @thegraceinfused_life

    The color here is Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom.

    Dark Academia Inspired Bathroom

    Can you get darkly academic in a powder room? I say yes! Again with Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom:

    Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom on the walls of a dark academia inspired powder room with a black hex mirror.
    Photo Credit: @kkendrickbigley

    To be honest, Rock Bottom should have just made the palette, because it’s totally the right aesthetic, but I was already full up of greens:

    Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom close up on a living room wall with brass antelope bookends and a brass plant pot.
    Photo Credit: @walnutandpinedesign

    Tres, Tres, “Dark Academia” if you ask me!

    Okay, enough of colors that I had to cut. Let’s see the cream of the crop:

    The Dark Academia Color Palette

    Dark Academia Color palette features 12 paint colors for creating a perfect dark and moody aesthetic, over a beackground of a dark but colorful library

    Before we get too deep into this, I picked the colors that immediately sprang to mind in order to achieve this vibe. There is no rhyme or reason to whether I chose a Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore color. I simply chose colors that I like and spoke to me.

    For any of the colors I have listed here that also have a separate review post, I will link it. Within that post you can find equivalent colors from other brands.

    Dark Academia Neutrals

    First, here are three neutral paint colors that you can use in your own Dark Academia design:

    Dark Academia Neutral paint colors Shoji White, Shiitake, and Urbane Bronze over a background of a moody library

    Of course Shoji White and Shiitake won’t make your home moody enough on their own, but they are a great starting point in your color palette. Perfect for some breathing room when you are working with very dark colors.

    I will also say that most of the colors in this palette can be used as neutrals, with the exception of Autumn Orchid, Perle Noir, Homburg Gray, and maybe Black Forest Green. Those 4 shades are a little more specific.

    Sherwin Williams Shoji White

    Shoji White is actually an off white, and I would say it is one of Sherwin Williams most successful ones.

    Paintbrush swipe swatch of Sherwin Williams Shoji White

    It’s warm while still being pretty neutral, and while it’s much darker than classic whites, you can still trick your eye.

    Shoji White in a long hallway
    Photo Credit: @piper_stromatt

    If the palette is Dark Academia, Shoji White would be Light Academia.

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Sherwin Williams Shoji White Review and Alternatives (It’s not greige!)

    Sherwin Williams Shiitake

    I added Sherwin Williams Shiitake to this palette as the second of only two super easy to use “lighter” colors. I think it can fit the Dark Academia aesthetic wherever you don’t want to use a dark color, but if you disagree, we can still be friends:

    Sherwin williams Shiitake on an island and pantry door in a cozy kitchen
    Photo Credit: @homeonportsmouth

    One more of Shiitake:

    Sherwin Williams Shiitake on the walls in a foyer with a funky pendant light and a black interior door
    Photo Credit: @capstone_built

    Bear in mind that the lighting is super warm in that last photo. Shiitake would normally look a touch more gray.

    Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze

    Urbane Bronze is totally on brief for Dark Academia. It’s such a luxurious charcoal brown.

    Paintbrush swipe of Urbane Bronze

    Here it is in the living room of one of my favorite homes everrrr:

    Urbane Bronze wood panelled living room walls with a glass back wall, plants, and a chair, providing a dark academia look
    Photo Credit: @brandeyehome

    Delicious! One of the best things about Urbane Bronze is that it is generally pretty predictable.

    Here is one more living room:

    Urbane Bronze built-ins around a brick fireplace in a cottage
    Photo Credit: @lakeglenvillecottage

    Next here it is in a bedroom:

    Urbane Bronze in a dark Academia inspired bedroom
    Photo credit: @oliveandoakhome

    I’ll resist the urge to show you all of my best photos of this one, for the sake of getting through this post today!

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Urbane Bronze Review and Dupes (It Goes With Literally Everything!)

    Dark Academia Greens

    I think that luscious deep greens go hand-in-hand with Dark Academia:

    Dark Academia Green Paint Colors Shade Grown, Vintage Vogue, and Black Forest Green over a background of black forest green in a moody library.
    Background Photo Credit: @archetypedesigns

    Here are just three of my favorites:

    Sherwin Williams Shade Grown

    Paint swipe swatch of Sherwin Williams Shade Grown

    Shade Grown is from the immensely popular Evergreen Fog color strip:

    Evergreen Fog beside the sherwin williams Rosemary color strip

    This Shade Grown office is a perfect example of the Dark Academia aesthetic:

    Sherwin Williams Shade Grown in a dark academia office with an extra white door
    Photo Credit: @taters_gonna_tate

    Moving on to a dark and moody bedroom, complete with on-theme warm lighting:

    A Dark Academia bedroom featuring SW shade grown on the walls
    Photo Credit: @brotherspainting_614

    Finally, here is Shade Grown in a dining room:

    Dark Academia color Sherwin Williams Shade Grown on wainscoting in a dining room with moody forest wallpaper on the top 2/3 of the wall
    Photo Credit: @cacheyhome

    This space is a bit lighter of an aesthetic, but I still think it’s very “Dark Academia” inspired.

    Benjamin Moore Vintage Vogue

    Labelled paint brush swipe of Vintage Vogue

    Vintage Vogue is the lightest of these greens, but it’s still pretty dark.

    Here is a Dark Academia inspired bathroom featuring Vintage Vogue:

    Benjamin Moore Vintage Vogue on Board and Batten wall behind a vintage wood vanity in a dark academia bathroom with a white sink and black built-in faucet
    Photo Credit: @jenna.rachelle

    This next living room shows how much color makes a difference, because the space really isn’t themed at all, but Vintage Vogue creates the theme:

    Vintage Vogue in a living room with a cream sofa and worldly gray hall outside the room
    Photo Credit: @thetinpitcher

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Benjamin Moore Vintage Vogue Review (Plus Dupes!)

    Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green

    Paint Swipe swatch of Benjamin moore Black Forest Green

    Black Forest Green, and the team at @bespokeredesign brings us my very favorite Dark Academia inspired kitchen:

    Benjamin moore Black Forest Green on kitchen cabinets with gold hardware
    Photo credit: @bespokeredesign

    I think most people would not have been bold enough to double down with the black tile, but it adds so much to the look!

    Here is another successful project, this time by Archetype Developments (@archetypehomes):

    Two white chairs in the black forest green living room of a custom home
    Photo Credit: @archetypedesigns

    The archway into this room makes a huge statement too:

    Black Forest Green dollop swatched over a photo of a tall arched entrance into a black forest living room study
    Background Photo: @archetypedesigns

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green (Review and Dupes!)

    Dark Academia Deep Blues

    Dark Academia Blue paint colors Homburg Gray, Hale Navy, and Soot over a background of a library with a frescoed ceiling.

    Sherwin Williams Homburg Gray

    I went back and forth on whether Homburg Gray belongs with the greens or the blues, but decided the hint of teal belongs in blue!

    Paintbrush swipe of Homburg Gray

    Here is an eclectic living room that says “quirky Dark Academia”:

    Wide shot of Homburg Gray in a dark academia living room with a leopard print couch, a wood coffee table, and a stag mount on the wall
    Photo Credit: @bigmamashousereno

    Homburg Gray is also very successful as a Dark Academia exterior color:

    Homburg Gray exterior of a mid century home around sunset
    Photo Credit: @offthecuffhome

    Here is one more from the porch:

    Homburg Gray siding on a porch at night
    Photo Credit: @offthecuffhome

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Sherwin Williams Homburg Gray (The Only Review You Need!)

    Benjamin Moore Soot

    Paint Swipe Swatch of Benjamin Moore Soot on a color card

    Soot is a classic Victorian inspired paint color that does Dark Academia sooo well!

    Here it is in a living room:

    Soot on a Victorian dark academia  living room with big curved bay windows
    Photo Credit: @minttomodern

    It’s charcoal and navy at the same time! Here it is in a bathroom:

    Benjamin Moore Soot on the top half of a wall in a dark academia bathroom with white wainscoting on the lower half and a clawfoot tub. A snake plant sits on the checkered floor in a white pot.
    Photo Credit: @minttomodern

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Step into Soot: Benjamin Moore’s Most Dramatic Charcoal

    Benjamin Moore Hale Navy

    Hale Navy is the most neutral-est navy, and a great place to start with Dark Academia if you’re scared and just want to dabble!

    Hale Navy brushstroke swatch

    Tell me this living room doesn’t fit the Dark Academia aesthetic!:

    Dark academia Hale Navy Victorian living room behind a piano
    Photo Credit: @1895stepler_house

    Don’t tell me that actually… Here is one more from the same lovely living room:

    Hale Navy with warm wood trim and a fireplace with mahogany mantle
    Photo Credit: @1895stepler_house

    Finally, here is Hale Navy bringing the Dark Academia where you can clearly see a much lighter adjoining room, but it still works:

    Hale Navy doorway with wood trim into white foyer
    Photo Credit: @1895stepler_house

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Hale, Yes! It’s Hale Navy! (Benjamin Moore’s Go-with-everything Paint Color)

    Dark Academia Pinks & Purples

    Finally we have the less traditional colors of Dark Academia. These are luscious roses to deep aubergines:

    Dark Academia Pinks and Purples: Sulking Room Pink, Autumn Orchid, and Perle Noir over a background of a two floor moody library

    Farrow & Ball Sulking Room Pink

    This pink is the only Farrow & Ball color that I have included in the palette. It is a neutral rose-mauve:

    Sulking Room Pink Color Card with a swipe of the color across

    This exterior isn’t particularly dark, but I am feeling the vibe:

    Sulking room pink on a front door of a brick house with a wreath
    Photo Credit: @thejordansathome

    Here is Sulking Room Pink where it is serving dark and moody in the living room:

    Sulking room pink in a study across a dark hallway
    Photo Credit: @thejordansathome

    Here is the review post with dupes from other brands: Farrow & Ball Sulking Room Pink (Plus 24 Dupes!)

    Sherwin Williams Autumn Orchid

    Dark Academia Color Sherwin WIlliams Autumn Orchid on a paint swipe color card

    Autumn Orchid is a very smoky purple that can range from almost mauve to completely gray. I like this one because it’s very moody without being super dark.

    Sherwin Williams Perle Noir

    Dark Academia Color Sherwin WIlliams Perle Noir on a paint swipe color card

    You might not even know from the swatch that Perle Noir is deep purple and not navy, until you compare it to some actual blues. In real life it looks like a purple charcoal. It’s a gorgeous hue, and one of the easiest ways to introduce purple to your home.

    I would loooove to see this one on walls, trim, and ceiling! If you’re brave enough, let me know after.

    Dark Academia Final Moody Musings

    Victorian homes lend themselves particularly well to this trend because they are so compartmentalized. You can have a Dark Academia living room, and still have light and bright spaces for breathing room.

    Dark Academia Color Palette features 12 colors from the article over a background of an underground staircase

    I personally really like the Dark Academia aesthetic, but I would like it a whole lot better if I had a summer house! Hats off to someone who throws their whole home into it, but if you live where winter is dark and long, I’m not so sure about this one.

    If you want to dabble: A home office, powder room, or exterior would be the best fit.

    Thank you so much for reading to the end! That really helps my blog. Please consider pinning this post for later, or sharing with a friend.

    If you’ve been putting something off, check out these other posts to continue avoiding it! :

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