How to Create Drama in a Room

Published August 31, 2017

The Emmys are around the corner, and if there’s one thing the esteemed awards show reminds us of each year, it’s that a little drama goes a long way … both on screen and off. Like must-see TV, a dramatic moment is one of the best ways to make a room both exciting and memorable. If your decor is feeling lackluster, here are five drama-infusing tactics to try to give it an instant pick-me-up. 

High Contrast Color. 

Black, white, and red make for a high-contrast palette. Room by Sara Gilbane Sullivan.

A room designed around muted neutrals feels serene. A room decorated in a high-contrast color palette, on the other hand, feels energized and vibrant. Black and white is the most classic (and extreme) example of high-contrast colors, but if you prefer something more, well, colorful, look to the color wheel. Complementary colors, those opposite of one another, are considered to be of the highest contrast. Another tactic for creating contrast: mixing saturation. Think pale pastels and rich jewel tones, or neutrals and neon. 

The Right Lighting. 

Statement lighting above the tub gives the room a grand feel. Room by Anne-Marie Barton.

Lighting is one of the most effective ways to manipulate the atmosphere in a room, and the more options you have, the better. A well-layered lighting scheme–one that combines ambient, accent, and task lights–can take a room from bright and buzzing to dim and dramatic in the flip of a switch. For a doubly effective lighting design, choose a statement fixture for the ceiling. This draws the eye up and creates an instant sense of grandeur. 

High Shine.

A gold-finished console and a mirror on top create an eyecatching focal point. Image via Lexington Home.

Mirrors and metallic tones reflect light, which in turn catches the eye. Consider a mirrored finish or tones of silver, gold, copper or platinum for furniture and decor pieces you wish to have stand out. 

A Statement Wall. 

A black statement wall anchors an airy room. Room by Ginger Curtis.

A statement wall gives the rest of the room a bold backdrop and provides a distinct sense of perspective. Creating one can be as simple as painting the wall a darker hue (see above) or adding patterned wallpaper. Or, make the wall stand out with art: hang one large piece or create a gallery arrangement from wall-to-wall.

Bold Pattern.

Barclay Butera mixes contrasting colors, and small- and large-scale stripes to create a bold yet polished room. 

Juxtaposing large and small-scale pattern makes design feel dynamic and allows each print to stand out from the rest, maximizing the effectiveness of each. For the most dramatic effect, pair patterns in close proximity, like mixing throw pillows on a sofa, or choosing a printed rug and drapery.

A final note about drama: too much creates chaos. Choose two, maybe three, of the above strategies, and keep the rest of the space understated.