House Rules: Discover your dark side

Get that magical fallen-down-the-rabbit-hole effect with deeper shades in your home

When I bought my house it was painted in various shades of alcohol. Bottle green, burgundy, and a richer more purpley-red in the bedroom – possibly an almost-over-the-hill claret colour. It didn’t help that my house is the size of a small shoebox, and I was so alarmed when the keys were finally mine that I didn’t go back there for at least six weeks.

In the end, a very nice friend helped me to paint it all with several coats of cream, but from time to time I wonder if I should have been more adventurous? There’s the obvious rule of thumb, that light colours make spaces look larger, but as the evenings draw in, and with Halloween just around the corner, you can still discover your dark side, even in the smallest of spaces.

Wrap up

The go-to expert in all things inky is Abigail Ahern. Based in London (though her grandparents are Irish), Ahern is a celebrity favourite too – with Robert Downey Jr among her followers – and if it's good enough for Iron Man, it's good enough for me. Ahern recommends starting small, maybe in just an alcove, although she doesn't say what to do if your house doesn't really extend beyond the alcove.

Darkness, she says, can be addictive. “The thing about a dark colour is that it wraps you in a squishy blanket – and you can only get that magical fallen-down-the-rabbit-hole effect with dark colours.”


If you do feel like embracing a new addiction, Ahern’s tips for engaging your dark side will be on the Hillary’s website from November 1st (

Master class

For even more inspiration, you can win a place on one of her master classes, held in her home, where you’ll learn about going all out and spreading the dark love across floors, ceilings, skirtings and curtains; being brave when it comes to bright green and tangerine; and the joys of accessorising. Enter from Monday October 24th at

The prize includes up to £250 (about €280) towards your travel to London, plus your place on the Masterclass. It’s in the form of a voucher, so you can pick the date to suit you. Closing date for entries is November 28th. Let the darkness fall.