We can't lie, we're pretty smitten with the dark academia bedroom aesthetic. Maybe it speaks to our (dark) soul as our closets are mostly packed with dark clothing (can you blame us? Colors just aren't our thing.) But it's also a serious departure from the all-white decorating style we've been witnessing over the last few years. Are we here for dark academia decor and vibe? That's a resounding yes.
You might think that this new trend is just an evolved version of the gothic trend that's been popular over the last 20+ years. However, the look didn't originate from gothic fashion or design. Dark academia style actually began in the early 1800s with a movement called Romanticism. Quick history lesson forthcoming.
The History of Dark Academia
Dark academia started during the Romantic period, which was known for its dark and mysterious vibes. Emotion and intuition were prized more by Romantics than by reason and reasoning. Nature, they felt, was the source of all truth and beauty. As a result, dark and ethereal landscapes became increasingly popular in paintings and poetry. An example of a Romantic painting you might be familiar with is Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (a classic!)
Fast-forward to the late 1990s when a designer named Tim Burton brought dark academia style into the mainstream with his dark and quirky films. You probably recognize his name from popular movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas (an absolute throwback at this point, as it was released in 1993!), Batman, and Edward Scissorhands. Burton used Romantic ideas and images to create a unique look that was both dark and appealing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So how do you create a dark academia bedroom, or even a dark academia room in your home? In this post, we're going to give you a step-by-step guide to transforming your bedroom into this popular aesthetic. And if the rest of your home is not decorated in dark academia interior design, don't worry - we'll give you some tips on how to mix and match dark and light pieces to create a cohesive look.
Step 1: Get inspired by the dark academia vibes around you
Sometimes the simplest sources of inspiration are the best. One of our favorite ways to get into the right mindset for just about any interior design project is to use nature, buildings, and the media around us to inspire our style.
So naturally, we recommend taking a walk outside as a good first step. It doesn't matter where you live; whether you're in the city or the sprawling countryside, chances are you'll notice elements of dark academia everywhere (especially as you start to train your eye to notice these elements more often.)
Bring your phone along to snap photos of old buildings, vintage styles, and colors that draw you in. Or if you're feeling especially creative, try to capture dark and moody scenes in nature. The sky on a cloudy day, for example, can even spark some dark academia bedroom ideas.
Step 2: Research
Once you've gathered some photos, it's time to move on to the next step: watching dark academia-inspired films and TV shows. Because, you know, research.
Check out Tim Burton's flicks (as we mentioned before) and The Haunting in Connecticut for gloomy academic films. Penny Dreadful is a TV show that absolutely fits the bill for perfecting this style as well. From the set design to the costumes, the production is infused with Gothic and dark romantic aspects.
Many painters' work reflects the dark academia approach when it comes to art, too. We recommend looking at Caspar David Friedrich, Arnold Böcklin, John Atkinson Grimshaw, and Edward Munch if you're seeking some gloomy and emotive art.
Now that you've gathered a few sources of inspiration, it's time to move on to step two.
Step 3: Choose a dark color palette
Now that you've done your research, the second step in creating a dark academia bedroom is to choose a dark color palette for your walls, furniture, and accessories. Black, dark green, navy blue, and moody purple colors are all great options. You can also do a variation of these colors to play up a multi-colored dark academia bedroom.
Naturally, one of our favorite websites for hunting down color palettes is Pinterest, but we've also found some perfect dark academia color palettes on Coolors. Pro tip: sign up for a free account and you'll be able to save your color palettes to your account!
Now, let's talk about a conundrum that many apartment dwellers face. If you live in a rental or dorm and aren't able to paint your walls (probably one of the worst parts of renting or temp living), think about grabbing some rental-friendly stick-on wallpaper.
These come in both patterns and simple colors, so you'll have plenty of options to work with. This wallpaper is super easy to use as it doesn't require any paste or water. Just make sure to buy enough, as interior decorators will tell you, many people tend to underestimate how much they need!
Step 4: Choose dark and moody furniture
Once you've assessed your color palette, it's time to start shopping for dark academia bedroom furniture. This is the fun part (OK, every part is fun) But you also don't have to sacrifice what you already own to cultivate the perfect look.
Let's do a quick room assessment: what furniture do you already own that could fit this style? When it comes to materials, do a quick inventory check for dark woods, dark metals, and dark suedes. Velvet is also making a big comeback, so if you already own some velvet pieces, hold onto them tightly.
If you know you need to update your space and make a few new purchases, we recommend heading to your nearest antique store or consignment shop, where you'll be sure to find some dark academia gems. Facebook Marketplace can also be an absolute goldmine, but it definitely requires some patience. Think about setting up some keyword notifications so you get alerts every time something goes on sale so you can be the first to make a move.
While you're picking out your dark academia furniture pieces, remember to keep your eyes peeled for dark woods, velvet fabrics, and moody colors like dark green and navy blue. And don't be afraid to think outside the box. An armoire can make a great wardrobe in a small bedroom, and a dark metal bed frame can add some edge to the room. A dark academia desk can also give you a spot to work. And a coffee table with dark accents can help create a cozy reading space.
When it comes to rugs...
When it comes to rugs, dark academia bedrooms often have Persian or Oriental rugs. But if you're not ready to invest in a new rug, consider using dark green or black throw rugs instead. These are less expensive as they're not as large, and they'll help to ground the look of your dark academia bedroom.
If you're trying to maximize your bedroom space, think about adding a small desk to the mix. This will help to create a more complete look for the room and in turn, give you dedicated space to do your work or study - without having to leave your room.
Lastly, if you're fully committed to redoing your space, create a mood board! We love using Canva to help us decide which items will look best.
Step 5: Add dark, romantic details and decor
Now that you've settled on your walls and furniture, it's time to round out the style by adding accents and decorations to your bedroom space. This is easily the most personal part of decorating a dark academia bedroom, as so many little unique-to-you touches can be included.
You can already probably guess that dark academia decor is all about the dark and moody vibes, and no room is really ever complete without plants (in our opinion) - so we recommend investing in dark green ferns or philodendrons to add some life to the look. These would look absolutely perfect in a dark ceramic planter.
Lighting has a major impact on setting
Lighting has a major impact on setting the scene, so dark academia bedrooms often have floor lamps or table lamps instead of overhead lights. This is because overhead lights can sometimes be too harsh and make the room feel too bright, and that's the exact opposite of the vibe we're going for. The perfect floor lamp for this aesthetic is one with dark metal and a dark, moody shade. If you can find a floor lamp made of dark wood, that also works.
Candles are another great way to add some romance to your dark academia bedroom. Placing them on your bedside table or in a pretty candelabra is a great way to set the mood for a relaxing night (as long as you remember to blow them out before you fall asleep!) we love the vintage vibe of a brass candlestick holder or the dark glamour of a black candelabra. Freestanding fireplaces are also a more upscale yet cozy addition to your space.
When it comes to art, think about adding some landscape
When it comes to art, think about adding some landscape paintings with dark skies or gothic artwork with spooky details. You can either buy something that's been handmade or buy a print of art. Dark academia art prints consist of anything from dark and stormy landscapes to portraits of dark and brooding characters. We're obsessed with gallery walls, and mixing up different sizes and styles of prints.
Instead of having one major piece be the focal point, try mixing and matching vintage frames with vintage photos from garage sales. Don't forget to toss a mirror into the mix - a small gold framed mirror is the perfect element juxtaposed against the other photos you'll have on your wall.
Let's face it, no bedroom of this style would ever be complete without vintage books. Placing a few antique hardcovers on your bedside table or bookshelf is the perfect way to add that extra touch of dark sophistication to your bedroom.
Step 6: Take time to build your space
Listen - we know you're excited. But you don't need to create your dark academia bedroom overnight. This is a process that takes time, and the more thought you put into each element, the better your space will look in the end.
Start with one or two pieces that you really love, and then build your space around those. Over time, you'll be able to curate a dark academia bedroom that's perfectly suited to your unique style.
What if dark academia doesn't fit in with the rest of your home?
If you're loving the dark academia aesthetic but recognize that the rest of your house doesn't match, there's no need to worry. You can still add dark academia accents that complement the rest of your home.
Here's what we recommend
- Use dark academic colors as accents: You can use dark academic colors throughout the rest of your home as accents to create a cohesive look. For example, if your dark academia bedroom has dark green walls, you could use dark green throw pillows in your living room or dark green vases in your dining room.
- Bring dark academia decor into other rooms: You can also use dark academia elements in other rooms of your home to tie the look together. For example, if you have a dark academia artwork in your bedroom, you could take another piece of artwork to place in your living room.
- Use dark academic furniture in other rooms: Finally, you can use dark academic furniture in other rooms of your home to create a cohesive dark academia look. For example, if you have a dark academia bed frame, you could use end tables with a similar vibe in your living room.
Creating the perfect dark academia bedroom doesn't have to be difficult - just follow these simple tips and you'll be well on your way to achieving dark academic perfection.