Mastering the Modern Dark Academia Aesthetic

03rd Oct 2023

Get Inspired!

Check out our top 5 tips to master the Modern Dark style!

a living room in the modern dark academia aesthetic

Welcome to a Season of dark intrigue – open the library doors and enter the Modern Dark Academia Season! Here’s some more info on this gorgeous aesthetic.

Modern Dark Academia draws inspiration from various historical, literary, and cultural sources. One of the main sources is the classic academic tradition that has its origins in ancient Greece. Pursuing knowledge, philosophy literature, and art was highly valued at the time. A modern reimagining of this aesthetic prompted by modern movies and social media, highlighting the mysterious beauty of numerous books and scrolls in ancient studies, has evolved into what we know today as Modern Dark Academia. Another major influence that shaped Modern Dark Academia as we know it is Gothic literature and romanticism, specifically of the 18th and 19th century. Poets like Edgar Allan Poe and Shelley have captivated audiences to this very day, making us dream of dark and broody scenery with their heartwrenching stories and poems. Literature at the time often featured themes such as mystery, romance, and melancholy, highlighting the dark and enigmatic aspects of this style. We’re still dreaming of it today!

Now that you understand the sources that Modern Dark Academia draws on better, it’s time to dive into our specially curated tips! Here’s how to master this design style.

1. Cultivate a Dark and Moody Color Palette:

The hallmark of Dark Academia interior design is its dark and moody color scheme. Come to the dark side! We may not have cookies, but we do have some beautiful deep shades to choose from. Go for deep, rich hues such as charcoal gray, earthy browns, forest green, burgundy, and navy blue. Use these colors for walls, upholstery, and key furniture pieces. These shades create a cozy and inviting atmosphere reminiscent of old libraries and study rooms.

A Dark Academia inspired living room

Here’s a wonderful example from our very own Redecor Art Team! While the background is set in a deep mahogany tone, the floors are a checkered pattern featuring a lovely dusty rose. The same color is echoed in the details of the ceiling and rich curtains. A different shade of brown is chosen for the sofa, pillows and wall art. This shows how a color palette of predominantly deep earthy browns can still be varied – and still have a “surprise” appearance of the dusty rose!

 2. Embrace Vintage and Antique Touches:

Incorporate vintage and antique touches and pieces to evoke a sense of history and timelessness. Opt for items like leather sofas, dark wood bookshelves, and antique writing desks. Decorate with old-fashioned brass or copper, and make use of intricate frames to add that perfect touch of sophistication. These pieces not only add authenticity but also offer comfort and elegance.

dark academia inspired bedroom mock up

Here’s how our Redecor Art Team chose to highlight these examples. Overall, you have a pretty modern room design – to give it that antique sense they’ve added beautiful touches of brass in the lamps, dark mahogany wood for the wall, a dark leather for the bedframe, and added the final touch with an exquisite vintage wooden floor. To help the Design feel lighter, the chosen wallpaper adds a touch of cream and beige, while the plants add a pop of green.

3. Layer Textures and Fabrics:

To achieve a warm and inviting ambiance, incorporate various textures and fabrics. Consider using velvet or leather upholstery, richly patterned Persian or Oriental rugs, and curtains made from heavy, luxurious materials. Add throw pillows and blankets in deep, earthy tones to create a comfortable and cozy atmosphere.

Books are a great way to add texture to the room and they are also a central element of Dark Academia style. Arrange bookshelves with a mix of classic literature, leather-bound volumes, and vintage editions. Display them creatively, both horizontally and vertically, and intersperse them with personal mementos, old globes, or academic awards to tell a story within the design.

a study in the modern dark style

Here’s an example of layering multiple textures! While the chair is a lush velvety material, the chosen rug is a more durable one. The rug fits in with the dark color palette, standing out from the vintage wooden floors. This causes visual interest in the Design. There are several tones of brown in the background as well, starting with the library and ending with the wall. Notice how the books are arranged in different ways just as we suggested, drawing the eye further. A room that highlights the modern in Modern Dark Academia!

4. Incorporate Vintage Art and Wall Decor:

Enhance the aesthetic appeal of your design by featuring vintage art and wall decor. Consider framed classical paintings, vintage maps, old botanical illustrations, or prints of famous literary works. These pieces not only add visual interest but also contribute to the scholarly ambiance of the space.

a living room in the modern dark academia aesthetic

Here you can see an ode to nature through the beautiful butterflies chosen for the first picture, and a nod to classical paintings in the second with the portrait of the girl. It’s the perfect way to bring a modern edge to the space while still referring to the ancient roots of the Academia style. The bright sofa relies on the darker pillow to pull it towards the darker look – which just goes to show that you can style anything with the right accessories! Again, the carpet, the sofa and the wall all have different textures, but the space doesn’t feel overwhelmingly full of scribbles. Done in moderation, with a carefully curated color palette – you can reach the right balance.

5. Pay Attention to Lighting Design:

Lighting plays a crucial role in setting the mood in Dark Academia interiors. Opt for warm, ambient lighting sources like chandeliers with vintage-style bulbs, wall sconces, and table lamps with fabric lampshades. The right lighting enhances the coziness of the space and highlights key design elements.

Mock up of sewing room in dark academia style

In this room, the natural light coming through the window is a colder tone – which is why our artists chose to balance it out with a copper hanging lamp. On top of being a centerpiece in the room, something that really draws the eye upon entering, it helps warm up the space even during the daytime. The wallpaper goes to show that Dark Academia doesn’t necessarily mean plain colored walls – you can add texture, white, cream and beige, as long as you style the rest of the space accordingly. Here the outfit chosen is a cozy color and pattern, with warm browns mimicking the copper lighting fixture. The rug is a perfect choice, alluding to both the bright and dark elements inside the room.

Modern Dark Academia is one of the most beautiful styles to play with! One could refer to it as a contemporary reimagining of classic academic and Gothic aesthetics, focusing on the love of learning, vintage charm, and a sense of intellectual curiosity. Give this unique design aesthetic a try this Season! Head to the app and create beautiful Designs now!

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