This post was written and researched by Ana Maria Gvozdenovic – a professional interior designer – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and unique content.
What exactly is a dark academia-styled bedroom?
A dark academia styled bedroom has a sophisticated, artistic, and mildly disorganized style that echoes the Victorian era with an air of mystery – where any painter, writer, musician, or scientist would spend their time to create and think deeply.
So how do you create a bedroom with a dark academia theme?
To create a dark academia styled bedroom focus on a dark color palette; oversized dark wood furniture made before the 1970s; heavy and textured bedding; rich and heavy curtains; layered lighting; and vintage accessories like books, vases, art supplies, and antiques.
In the rest of this article, I have used my knowledge as a professional interior designer to provide you with the 7 steps you can follow to make your bedroom have a dark academia theme.
I have also included some of my own photographs for inspiration – since I have a family member who has a dark academia-styled bedroom – alongside referenced images from elsewhere.
How to Create a Dark Academia Style Bedroom
To get the best results, you should follow all 7 steps below if you can – but you can cherry-pick if you already have a partially styled dark academia bedroom already:
1: Choose a Darker Color Palette for a Moody Look
When styling a bedroom, we usually pick lighter colors to make the room feel calm.
But the dark academia style requires that darker tones should be used in order to achieve the moody, intellectual look.
Shades like forest green, burgundy red, dark purple, rust orange, terracotta, and dark midnight blue are the colors that should be used for a dark academia bedroom because they are rich, saturated, dark, strong, and refined.
However, there is some tact required in order to distribute these colors correctly in order to prevent your bedroom from feeling like a cave.
See below for more details.
Don’t Paint Every Wall a Dark Color – Choose Dark Accent Walls Selectively Instead
If your bedroom is small, my advice is to not paint all the walls dark colors – or the room will look like it’s much smaller.
Look at your room and pick one or two walls that would be the accent walls and paint them dark.
If you pick the wall behind the headboard, you can put wallpaper on it.
Just make sure that the wallpaper follows a dark academia style – go for a neutral or mystical background, with vertical stripes, a forest, floral motives, or something artistic and abstract.
Colors can be used in different ways besides painting whole walls or a whole room.
For example, you can make accent arches behind the bed or bookcase, or paint one-half or two-thirds of a wall in one dark color.
Interior decorating should be fun, feel free to play with your space!
2: Select OverSized Pre-1970s Dark Wood Furniture
Furniture used in a bedroom styled like this should be made of massive wood (or to look like it is) and stained with darker tones like walnut, mahogany, rosewood, antique oak, or dark cherry.
This applies to libraries, bookshelves, desks, bedside tables, and chairs.
The bed could be wooden, or upholstered in rich, dark-colored fabric, like velvet.
If you have an armchair in your bedroom, you should also style it like this.
The dark academia style can be created in the bedroom by using antique furniture – or vintage pieces from before the 1970’s – modern furniture tends to lack the character that this dated furniture offers to create the desired dark academia feel.
Maybe you are lucky enough to own some antique pieces that you inherited and can use in your bedroom.
Or you can visit the nearest garage sale or a flea market where you may find furniture that perfectly fits your room and the style.
Furniture pieces like drawers and cabinets may be decorated with brass handles, which gives the furniture a refined appearance.
3: Choose Heavy, Cozy, and Textured Bedding
The bedroom needs to be cozy.
Choose a duvet or bed cover that is chunky and fluffy, and made from natural materials.
Maybe choose a cover with some tassels on the edges.
Make the bed look layered.
Add extra pillows but in different colors and fabrics.
Start with two sets of pillows, then add some throw cushions, but keep all the materials heavy, cozy, and textured.
You can add a decorative throw or a blanket over the bed cover for an additional layer.
4: Add Multiple Light Sources for a Layered Look
You’ve probably noticed I mention layers a lot.
That’s because they are important in interior design, no matter what style we are intending to achieve, especially when we are planning the light fixtures for a living space.
Well-chosen sources of lighting will provide the feel of coziness, and complete the room.
So if you have the option to plan the lighting in advance before choosing paint and furniture, you should think of which sources of light you need in the bedroom – particularly in a dark academia styled bedroom.
You will need a general light, a bedside light, a task light for the desk, an accent light for your library or bookcase, and additional lights if you want them.
And if you are not in the position to plan ahead like this, and you don’t want to make these sorts of construction changes in the room, just make sure you add as many light sources as you can, using what the room already contains when it comes to electrical outlets and switches.
Dimmer lights can also produce an interesting look when creating this style.
5: Casually Place Books, Vases, Art Supplies, and Antiques
The title “Dark Academia” implies that the main accessories in the room are the books.
Preferably old books.
Look for books with hardcovers made of leather or fabric, with gold print.
Of course, you don’t have to stock the whole library with old books, they could be just details.
A bookshelf or desk can be decorated with many interesting things in order to get this look.
For instance, old, handmade, or antique vases can be good accent pieces.
A vintage table lamp will work both as décor, and as a source of light.
Any historical piece of decoration would have a place in a bedroom styled like this.
It could be a bunch of old apothecary bottles and jars; art supplies like palettes, tubes of paint, paintbrushes, even an easel with canvas on it; an old globe, framed vintage maps, a compass, rulers; musical instruments; old notebooks; etc.
All trinkets that look like they have some historical value, and are connected to some specific profession such as the arts, literature, or science, will fit.
You can add other accessories such as plaster sculptures of historical figures, or framed pressed flowers and insects, if you like that kind of decoration, and depending on what effect you want to achieve.
Candles and ornamental candle holders can complement this style as well.
When you start to arrange all these things, you should do it in sections and groups, but also, the final outcome should look like someone has left those things laying casually around as if they have just finished using them.
All these accessories mentioned above can be found in antique stores, flea markets, and online.
6: Pick Rich and Heavy Curtains and Carpets
Every interior looks complete and properly designed when it has window covers and carpets.
When choosing curtains and drapes for this style, go with rich and heavy materials.
Textiles should give the room a theatrical, dramatic look.
So for the drapes, you should choose velvet in one color – or some other material that could contain some handmade details or patterns (like hand embroidery or a damask pattern).
If you choose patterned drapes, then the curtain should be blank in one color, preferably white or beige.
The carpet should be big.
It should cover the bedside and sitting areas.
The first word that comes to me when I think of carpets for a dark academia style is Persian.
Maybe not an original Persian carpet, but definitely that style.
Nowadays, design is expressed in many ways and materials, so you can easily find something similar for the bedroom in stores or on the internet.
It doesn’t need to be handmade or of natural materials to follow the style.
7: Put it All Together to Reflect Your Personality
As a designer, I always recommend to my clients to be playful and not be afraid of mixing materials, textures, and patterns – as long as the color scheme and style are consistent.
If you like the dark academia style, feel free to take all these elements I’ve mentioned and blend them together in a way that reflects your personality.
Add some personal items, such as old family pictures of your ancestors, framed in gilded frames.
Include big mirrors, still life paintings, lamps with rich lampshades, plants, dry flowers, jewelry boxes, and other trinkets.
Use a Mood Board to Plan Your Color Palette
When planning a color palette, it could be useful to create some form of a mood board.
First, choose the color that will go on the bigger surfaces, and then choose the colors that will go on the smaller elements.
It should be like this: first the walls, then the bed; after that the smaller pieces of furniture and textiles, and in the end the decoration.
With this method, you can easily plan the color scheme for the entire room.
Don’t Clutter the Room Too Much
One thing you should be cautious about when pursuing this aesthetic is: don’t confuse it with a farmhouse or boho style and be careful not to turn your bedroom into a hoarder’s room.
With all these pieces and elements, a person could easily get drawn in some other direction.
A dark academia style should reflect your intellectual and creative personality, as well as your passions, interests, and hobbies.
A bedroom styled like this should have a theatrical, librarian, mystical, and moody vibe, but at the same time, you should feel cozy, safe, and inspired spending time in it.
Image Attribution and Licencing
Main image: Custom image taken for Bedroom Style Reviews.
Image #1 Untitled – ZHENYU LUO (used with permission under Unsplash’s free-to-use license).
Image #2 Untitled – Mathias P.R. Reding (used with permission under Unsplash’s free-to-use license).
Image #3 Untitled – Raphael Nast (used with permission under Unsplash’s free-to-use license).
Image #4 Untitled – Polina Kuzovkova (used with permission under Unsplash’s free-to-use license).
Image #5 Small victorian study room in Lanhydrock House, Cornwall – David Mitchell (used with permission under Unsplash’s free-to-use license).
Image #6 Dark Bedroom in French Chateau – anyka (used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.).
Image #7 Antique furniture in manor house with lighting from the window and a desk, chair, rug and curtains – Stephen Packwood (used with permission under Unsplash’s free-to-use license).
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.