The world of interior design is becoming increasingly influenced by social media and the autumn/winter 2021 season is seeing the biggest trend yet of this type be introduced to homes around the world. Dark Academia is the sister to ‘cluttercore’ and ‘cottagecore’ – but what is it, how can you achieve it and where you can source items to fit it? We’ve got you covered in all things dark, smart and nature-toned…

A dark academia inspired bathroom with large windows and plants

What is Dark Academia?

Dark Academia was originally a social media aesthetic that first took off in spring/summer 2021 across fashion and style bloggers as they looked to plan toward the autumn and Halloween season toward the end of the year. A slightly spooky aesthetic, in interior design terms, it echoes the likes of Harry Potter-style old school halls and winding corridors in moody maximalism with lots of items reflecting academia and knowledge. Think dark wooden bookshelves filled with nick-nacks and dusty book volumes, low lighting that highlights autumnal hues and a colour palette of neutrals, dark browns, beiges and touches of darker moody statement tones. In the fashion circles within which it originated, Dark Academia reflects tartan fabrics, chunky boots, smoky eyes and flowing maxi-length silhouettes.

OK, so while we’re here, what are Cluttercore and Cottagecore too?

Cluttercore and Cottagecore are the names given to other interior design trends that also originated from social media networks; although in this case neither have taken off in property spheres in the same way as Dark Academia has. Cluttercore is an interior trend that celebrates bold maximalism (reflecting its name) and Cottagecore a romanticised interpretation of rural cottage living.

How has Dark Academia translated so well to interior design?

Dark Academia began as a social media fashion trend but has translated to interior design considerably better than some other trends of the same origin. This is due to its timeless nature in terms of furniture, fixings and fittings – many of them are by no means ‘current’ and so are pieces that will not go out of style any time soon. For interior designers and professional renovators, this allows for more classical property features to be included; appealing to homeowners who know that they’re not just jumping on a temporary bandwagon and won’t have to redecorate immediately when the latest thing hits the internet. 

A dark green living room

Easy ways to style rooms with the Dark Academia trend

It is easiest to style bedrooms, living rooms and offices with the Dark Academia style as these rooms lend themselves best to being cluttered and to display ornaments and decorative art and features. However, perhaps the simplest place to start is with the walls of any rooms. Using paint to create darker, neutral or feature walls, or to highlight large furniture pieces, walls can be darkened and aged. 

Antique furniture (or the repainting of existing pieces) can also help maintain a darker colour scheme but the introduction of dark photo frames, prints and ornaments can help switch the focus of the eye when someone walks into the room. Pieces need not all be or look antique: mixing and matching helps demonstrate the perceived accumulation of furniture and ornaments over the years, proving an ongoing academic interest in design. 

Of course, no room should be focused entirely on dark hues unless those living within are heavily into a much darker palette. In order to not unnecessarily darken a room or make it appear smaller than it needs to, Dark Academia balances earthy neutral hues with other colours to present an interesting look. Rather than selecting the classic matte greys that have been so popular for so long as a base shade, replacing these instead with warm beiges, ocean greens or rich blues provide a contemporary interior that gives a sense of history and heritage. 

Although the Dark Academia trend may first present a mental image of textbooks on bookshelves and dusty winding corridors, this doesn’t quite work in every room. Investing in natural furnishings made from materials such as oak or other wood with texture and movement in the grain help give a statement focus piece for each room and brings a warmth that darker colours can’t necessarily always facilitate. Lighter woods and natural textures can also provide a striking contrast against dark walls – and even black paint!

a dark academia inspired kitchen and dining area

Where can I find more inspiration on modern Dark Academia?

Dark Academia started out as a social media trend and so there is plenty of examples and interior design inspiration reflecting it online. Social media networks such as Pinterest have lots of imagery dedicated toward this new interior design trend but as it grows in popularity, specialist interior design firms are too beginning to present mood boards and case studies on this style.

Where’s best to buy all the items you need for a Dark Academia interior scheme?

There’s no two ways about it: Dark Academia works best when you have a decent amount of ‘stuff’ to display, because it’s by no means a minimalist trend. Furniture, fixtures and fixings may be able to be painted or repurposed to fit the aesthetic, but if not, suitably looking pieces can often be sourced second-hand. Searching out junkyards, antique dealers, second-hand stores as well as browsing online through Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Freecycle and eBay can yield some bargains without the need to invest in brand new items. What’s more, those looking to furnish the Dark Academia trend can get creative – printing their own posters, wrapping their own books or even plastering and potting their own vases and ornamental pieces.

Perfect for fans of the spooky autumnal season and the likes of vintage folklore and fiction, Dark Aesthetic reflects how many people already dress – so why not incorporate it into the home? It’s an accessible trend that can be easily employed without the help of professionals and is a timeless classic style that will be fashionable for many years to come; so the style can grow and develop with those within the home and can be added to along the way. 

Talk to Refresh!

Ready to find out how you can incorporate a bit of Dark Academia into your next home renovation? Get in Touch with Refresh today to book a free, no obligation consultation with one of our renovation Specialists!

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