Ideas to Brighten a Home With Dark Slate Flooring?

I live in a split level loft style home and I have been trying to decorate it for 4 years, going on 5 with not much success. The entire home is over 90% slate flooring and the slate is dark, very dark.


The home has been placed east/west which is a nice way to place a home, but we live high in the mountainous area of Melbourne in the southern colder areas and we are hemmed in by forest on both sides. Being a rental, and due to council by-laws we are not allowed to just hew down the trees to let light flow in. We do get sun from 11am till around 5pm around 4 months of the year and the rest we have mist, heavy low hanging grey and black clouds and rain, rain, rain. As I type we are in the midst of a thunder storm.

So, if you can imagine this dark flooring, no light coming in and no reflection, I need something to wow my vision! Despite many numerous efforts I am still not happy with my current colour scheme. Due to the colour of the flooring (which covers the area to allow for floor heating of the concrete block) and the fact that the ceiling is 28 feet high and painted a soft grey there is little light reflection.


I am a sun lover. It's just too dreary. The walls were a softer grey, but we have painted the entire home in a yellow based soft cream, which works well with the cedar beams running across the ceiling and the cedar bay window (which begs a window seat). The curtains are just plain old grey verticals and don't work too well for insulation on those cold days and nights.

I scanned the floor and put it up on Colour Lovers (a sight that helps with colours) and the colours I found were a dominant black, then slate grey, burnt orange, muddy iron ore red, terra cotta, deep gold like on an autumn leaf that is almost dead, and blue. The grey being a deeper grey blue. I had a designer come in and recommend the golds of autumn, but it didn't look that great to brighten things up.


Dark slate may be really chic in some circles, but up here, in the cold and almost constant darkness of winter and autumn and most of spring, it doesn't feel chic at all. Upstairs there is an open bedroom with a full en suite and a walk-in-robe, which is lovely and gets the most light. All other rooms including the sun room are in slate. However, the upstairs room is decorated in ivory, gold, teal, and taupe.

I am happy to recover or sell my existing butter yellow lounge suite, that barely made a difference, and I know that my accessory colours of cool green work downstairs, but they lend a cool, even cold feeling that you might love on a hot day as you walk thru early morning dewy grass, but inside this cavernous and dark abode, its just too cold. Ideas please?


I work from home as a writer so I am here nearly 24/7 making it vital for me, to have a home that it's welcoming, bright, colourful, and a haven. I'm really seeking ideas to make it a wow factor.
Thanks in advance, I am happy to have found this site and hope it will give me the answers I need.

By paisleyprint

Yellow lounge suite.

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September 28, 20120 found this helpful

If the in-floor heating allows, could you put down area, or throw, rugs in the brightest, most cheerful solids or prints that appeal to you? Why not try big pillow-y cushions on the couch or huge floor pillows in bright, cheerful spring green, sunny yellow, warm lilac, robin's egg blue, turquoise blue, fire engine red, coral to hot orange, or any combinations that work to cheer you along the way.


I would keep the sofa but add a throw, afghan, or blanket along with the cushions in those same colours of choice! You could experiment with possibly sketching it all out with these colours and do another sketch with the autumnal ones. If your budget allows, maybe purchase different colour themes to fit the seasons' moods. Blessings!

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September 28, 20120 found this helpful

Paisley, you are not alone. I live in a "Levitt" house on Long Island, NY. It's one of the first group of houses ever built on the accursed cement slab system, with radiant floor heat. The floors in these houses were covered with black asphalt-asbestos tiles, so they're even worse for sucking up light. My house is set north to south, so the morning light only comes in the bedroom windows, and there are no windows on the west side (except one in a storage room upstairs). How's that for a miserable dark house? I've lived in this place for over 50 years and have no reasonable hope of ever leaving.


My family's answer to the darkness has been to paint all the walls in light colors, paint the ceilings with semi-gloss paint which reflects light, and keep lots of lights on. Before CFLs existed, having lights on all the time was expensive with incandescent bulbs, but when I changed everything (except the bathroom bulb) to CFLs, the electric bill dropped considerably. When they become more affordable and useful, I plan to put LED bulbs in place of CFLs. We also have white appliances, white doors and woodwork, blond wood furniture (except for a couple of old items) and use light colored curtains and drapes.

I personally think that slab flooring is an abomination and the worst idea in the world for a house! Cement is very hard on your feet, legs and back, and I have the aches and pains to show for it. Putting copper pipes in cement floors was also a bonehead idea, as the chemicals in the cement corrode the pipes, which crack and leak after several years. You either have the expense of having the floor dug up and the pipes fixed, or replacing the entire heating system with baseboard heat.

Anything sitting on the floor where the water comes up gets ruined. Levitt was hailed as wonderful fellow when he came up with this building method, which allowed him to put up cheap housing rapidly for young men returning from WWII and the Korean War and starting families and looking for a house. In truth, he should have been run out of town and condemned for such a flawed, uncomfortable, trouble-plagued house design. If I could afford it, I'd tear this house down and build a real house on the site, but it doesn't look like I'll ever be fortunate enough to do that.

You have my complete sympathy with your problem. I hope the solutions we used help you. Frankly, your best bet is to move to a better house if you can! Good luck!

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September 28, 20120 found this helpful

The contrast between your light yellow couches and the dark floor is probably making matters worse. Have you thought about getting an area rug? Slip covers in white would make the furniture seem to float. Electric blue or bright green slip covers would be fun and artsy, then tie in the floor color with couch pillows to make the pairing look deliberate. Chrome, white, or mirrored pieces (like side tables) would reflect light around the room. Good luck, and I'd love to see pictures!

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September 28, 20120 found this helpful

Do you own it?

I have pieces of slate sitting on my desk right now and I have been playing around with it for ornaments - as well as a back-splash for downstairs mini kitchen (guy cave).

I found I can scratch design and rub in paint for the deer drawing. I am using coloured pencils for the flies to go on the backsplash.

Previously I have painted slate for decoration. I test mine using a cheapy clear spray by sitting it flat on back porch through summer and winters (over 8 years now) and its fine through ice and snow, heat etc this did not go yellow.

If your slate is in a regular pattern try painting it with geometrics, use stencils, use a matte clear not shiny or you will probably fall or slip when wet.

Other option - chip out some of the slate and replace with:
lighter slate colours *below is on back splash
( )
glass or lighter tile ..
( )

Since you have floor heat you probably can't cover it completely up - but there are some sisal rugs that are and open weave (think crochet look) they may work for lightening and still allowing heat.

Replace your vertical blinds with something to hold in heat and brighten the room. If you can't afford to change them out I'd seriously consider painting them. Make some insulated panels till you can replace.

Have you thought about pulling in black and white prints? Use white back ground on drapes with black accents. There is an interesting leaf in your area of the world and I am drawing a blank on name. This is ( ) is an idea for prints .. I personally love queen anne's lace flower in B/W LOL

Put up pics on walls with lighting.

What's your style?
Can you add some sparkle with metals on floor as furniture piece, accent pieces on table tops or shelves, and trim on frames, etc?
Mirrors - pick up a bunch in different styles and sizes make a montage of them unify with spray paint on frames if needed.
I recently saw a country style table/small desk for front room or hall in white with brushed silver sounds weird but looked good

Remember its a neutral - so whats your favorite colour? Add pops of it in jewel tone.

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September 29, 20121 found this helpful

Firstly, I wouldn't mess with the tiles. If you ever try to sell this home, and you have changed the tiles from their natural look, you will be in trouble. Also, you may not like it yourself, and then you will be stuck with ruined tiles.

All of the color choices that people have mentioned sound quite nice, but they are all "cool" colors. You need to go with shades from autumn -- oranges, reds, browns, dark yellows, yellow greens -- these are visually warm colors. I would also look into the type of lighting you have. Incandescent is more expensive, but it is warmer, both in tone and it actually does give off heat. If throw rugs are an option, I'd get some for the color as well. I think you should stay away from metalics, chrome, black, modern styles. Warm woods, throws, reading lamps -- that's what I think of when I think of warm and cozy. If you can replace the blinds with drapes in warm colors, that would also help. You want to let in as much actual sun as you can, but when there isn't any, I think you want to go with a comfy, cozy feel.

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