Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reader Question: Disguising Un-Goth Wall Colors

Dear Mary Rose,
Hello Mary Rose, can you help me? I have just moved into a new house with my parents and, since we're renting, we can't paint the walls. Unfortunately the walls of my room are pale yellow! So un-goth! Do you have any advice for how to make my room look gothier despite the wall color?

Hello Ellie! Yes, I do think I can help. Like you, my bedroom color is pretty not Goth. I've got robin's egg blue colored walls and, while they're pretty, they don't match much of anything. While I had plans on and off to paint the walls gray for several years, it stopped being a high priority when I went off to college and started only spending four months of the year at home.

My room, 2012

So, here's my advice for making the best of what you have:

Divert Attention!

If you have a really interesting focal point to your room you can draw attention from the wall color and make it impact less. Your distraction can be anything that you think makes your room special. Beds are the most obvious option because they tend to take up the most physical space in a room, so deck yours with a canopy, a beautiful headboard, or an interesting bedspread.

In my room, the distraction I tried to make for myself is the bookshelf area, which features an amazing piece of art by tumblr user jaynejezebelle and is framed by black curtains. It's the space I mostly look at while I'm on my bed, so it makes sense for me.

This kitchen is painted a pale yellow cream color, but that's not what you were looking at, were you? I thought not. ;)

Cover up!

If you can't change the wall color, try to cover it up with things that are the color you want. Posters, tapestries, cork boards, photographs, or even pieces of clothing can serve as interesting wall decor while hiding as much of the wall color as possible. There are also brands of removable wallpaper, but they do tend to be rather expensive so it probably wouldn't be the best idea for short term accommodations.

A note about safety: If you are using fabric wall hangings, tapestries, or clothing, please please please please please mind any candles you might be using. Do not leave them next to (or under!) the fabric on your walls and extinguish them before leaving the room.

Posing a big baroque mirror like this one across from something dark will both cover the yellow wall and reflect darkness into the room. Or, if you pose it across from the window it will provide light to keep all of the black things you've added to cover the yellow from drowning you. 

Add Spook Elsewhere

If you have an unusual wallcolor, you probably won't be able to get away with "un-goth" details and still end up with a Goth look. I'm not asking that you throw away everything that isn't Goth, but if you want the room to stay spooky looking then definitely expect to add more Goth details to balance out. Luckily for you, it's Halloween season! so it's the perfect time to shop for Goth decor at your local crafts or department store.

Another note: Unless your mess is really spooky, like you've got coffins and bats scattered about everywhere, mess tends to make a room look less Goth. Keeping things tidy will help your aesthetic a lot.

Incorporate it!

While pale yellow isn't a very easy color to integrate with black without looking like a bumble bee, you can do your best to incorporate little bits of it into your decor so it looks like less of a mis-match. Gold and yellow details in your hardware or other pieces of decor will complement it nicely. By the same token, try not to use a color that clashes. Purple might be a lovely and Goth-y color, but it will make the yellow stand out more. If you must have it, keep it away from the walls so the distinction is less obvious.

If you're into medieval and tuscan decor, I find that a lot of rooms with that inspiration have yellow or cream walls. Just add wrought-iron, natural wood, and rustic details and you have a beautiful tuscan-like room.

I hope that helps! Readers, what advice would you give Ellie to help work her way around an unfortunate wall color?

And, as always, feel free to send me a mail and suggest topics or ask a question.


  1. Hi Mary Rose,

    Thanks for the invite to share.

    If you are not a cyber goth, hide the modern.

    Take some older books or sets of books and copy the bindings. Most libraries have printers and lots of old books. Making sure that the bottoms of the books line up in a straight line.

    Cut off any excess paper and add tabs to the sides. Tuck these around the fronts of the modern paperback books on the shelves. You can hide other things this way also. You just need to back it with stiffer paper to hold it up.

    Get some cheap net fabric on sale and hang it on the walls. (Remember your Candle Safety.) For more drama make just a panel of a few layers and hang some of your more Gothy pieces of Jewelry on it from small wire 'S' hooks in an artistic way. (This also helps with the big clunky jewelry storage dilemma.) Can also be used in a large picture frame in the same way.

    Pictures of anything you like that is Gothy. Cut them up if you like. Poster goop them up in groups. Angle them if you like to add interest.

    Hope I helped. Even if just to get other ideas going.

    Lady Euphoria

  2. You could "wallpaper" your walls using fabric and liquid starch. When it's time to leave, you can peel off the fabric with no damage to the walls. You can even wash and re-use the fabric.

  3. as a renter with green and blue walls myself, i'd say it's a losing battle. then again, not every inch of your personal space needs to be goth. or black. In the blue room, I got white furniture (blue and white is a nice combo). In the green room, I have a lot of woods and dark browns (also my floor is a cheerfully stained wood floor). It's not "me" but it's comfortable.

  4. My walls are pale yellow and painting them would be way too much work. (many of the furniture in my room is extremely heavy) and it can be a bit of the challenge but really, I've found the best thing is to just not worry about a specific aesthetic and just put up what you like!

    But for some more specific advice, antique gold pieces (both in the style and the tarnished color from age) actually work very well. I have an antique gold dresser and mirror in my room. To help incorporate it more I painted some of my poster frames gold and hot glued matching broken jewelry bits.
    Other colors that work are darker browns, tarnished bronzes and silvers. Unfortunately pale yellow doesn't lend itself well to a lot of traditionally gothy colors like blacks and purples unless, as suggested earlier, you cover up majority of your wall space (which I've partly done with art work, halloween signs, posters, and mirrors. I love elaborate mirrors). BUT it does work really well for an aged Victorian look. So lace accessories, dried flowers, dusty rose shades and creams. Just look around for anything that catches your eyes really.

    Ultimately though, If you don't worry too much about the actual color and just instead focus on just putting up what you like and what makes you happy, it should work :) Good luck!

  5. I would recommend cloth or contact paper myself. I can't stand bright colors; not only are they so not Goth, they hurt my eyes. Wall to wall posters isn't always viable, but you could ostensibly use cheesecloth, layered for a great aesthetic.

  6. You could try making it look like it's old parchment by putting letter decals up, or maybe hang bits of transparent plastic with cursive writing painted on it.