13 Dark Academia Style Bedroom

Mystery, knowledge, and beauty abound.
13 Dark Academia Style Bedroom
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

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It is hard to believe that this once dark world of low light and dark tones is now a trend that is gaining momentum across the country. The academic aesthetic probably originated in the UK at an undefinable point, but certainly, it can be found in Dickensian England in the 1800s.

How do you create such a look with modern-day performance paints and textiles? Will you need to scour the antique stores and pay an extortionate price for the original furniture of the period?

Will we give you an overview of the trending era and how you can create this look for your bedroom by learning:

  • How to create the dark academia vibe
  • Use celestial images to be period correct
  • It doesn't have to be gray or black
  • Making the unorthodox look enviable

Settle in as we go back to the future!

How do I make my bedroom into a dark academia aesthetic appearance?

It will help if you can research for some inspiration and try to place yourself back in the days of Charles Dickens, The cold bitter winter months when London would be full of smog from coal fires burning to warm houses.

If you were an academic or a studious person, you would work in the form of a huge window if you had one or by the light of an oil lamp.

If you had pictures in your bedroom, they would be black and white with sepia tones. This era conjures up mystery and untold stories of travels and relationships.

Here are some tips to help you.

  • Bed Frames would have been metal in homes not occupied by the gentry.
  • Your duvet would not be plumb and cloud-like. It would be flat with a dour appearance.
  • You may have had a globe in your bedroom and oil lanterns with single candle sticks.
  • The paintwork would have been flat distemper which is flat and powdery.

If you were not put off at this point, let's get into the article and learn how to create the academia look for your bedroom.

1. Create the academia vibe

You will have to think that fancy pints and colors were not available to the average man in the street so your bedroom would have been predominantly brown without accents other than a few candle sticks and an oil lamp for light. Don't forget the pee pot under the bed. They were decorative or plain white.

Your curtains would be brown or a cream calico color that has become soiled and dark over time. Your bed would be close to a window despite the draughts whistling through during the colder seasons.

If you use a wood headboard, it has to be dark and austere looking. There were no fancy wood carvings for those of a certain ilk.

How to create this look?

Keep it dark and keep it simple. Ordinary people in Victorian times were not extravagant, even if they were the academic type.

Use browns. It's period correct. You may have a bookshelf with some well-read books occupying the shelves.

If you want to be period correct, don't use puffed-up pillows and fluffy duvets.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the most difficult, this look is a two.

Small bedrooms of the academia aesthetic can be created by toning down the walls with matte paints, say a beige color ( you can still buy distemper paint if you want an authentic look).

Keep everything dark brown and wood floors if you can. If you don't have wood go with a light carpet to make the aesthetic pop.

2. Use blankets and frost the bottom of your sash windows

During the Victorian era, most people would have slept under blankets, many blankets in the winter months. You can jazz up the room a little with blankets, although they would have been a monotone color back in the day about trying a fancy bed throw to create a cozy look.

Victorians were very prim and proper and insisted on privacy, so frosting the lower section of the window pane would have been a must for females in this time.

Use electric candles in a bedroom for safety reasons.

Scatter some period books that Victorians may have enjoyed, like Keats, who died just before the Victorian era started. Still, if you like romantic poems, you should have Keats in your academic bedroom.

How to create this look?

Still, on the austere side of comfort, this time introduce a bed cover that will break up the feeling of poverty.

To frost your windows you can buy sticky products online that will perfectly imitate the real thing.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult, this is a 2, very simple.

To make the look as authentic as possible visit Sunday markets and garage sales and pick up a selection of old books with dark covers.

3. Bringing the academia aesthetic into the 21st century

Many academics would have had a desk in the bedroom as a place to write and contemplate the literacy arts. The desk would have of course, been the standard deep brown stain and likely be an oak desk or another indigenous timber to the British Isles.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to bring the dark academia vibe out from the dark ages and use some modern lighting in keeping with traditional looks.

The green shaded desk lamp goes perfectly with this look and allows you to have a functional area for the study if you wish.

It goes without saying to enhance the look with period accessories such as candles.

How to create this look?

Adding a dark desk can be an affordable way of introducing a piece of furniture with the dark tones that are needed to make this period bedroom.

Make the desk functional by using sensible accessories such as a lamp that does not look out of place such as the one used in the image.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the most difficult, This one is a 4. You need to be able to find a desk that will look period or find a desk and stain to assimilate the time you are creating.

If you wished you could add a modern lamp as an opposite contrast to the period to great effect.

4. Moody maximalism 

Depending on your social standing in society, the academic aesthetic was not always dour and depressing. You could introduce some colors into the bedroom setting, such as violet gray tone which when used as an accent wall, gives the room a purposeful feeling when one can sit and reflect on the arts.

If you were to go to the extent of using distemper paint, this is the cool look you could achieve with its chalky finish and soft tones rooted in the 1800s.

Combined with some garish artwork, you could actually make a masterpiece from an otherwise dull room.

How to create this look?

If you use distemper paints or not look for deep dusty tones that distemper paint would give. Distemper was normally full of chalk or animal glue to use as a binder which made the somewhat dusty style surface finish.

Add a bright picture that is obtrusive to the eye to complete the look.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the most difficult. To use this color, you will need plenty of natural light to pull out the hues and saturation of the color. This one is a 6 in complexity to achieve.

Use this color as a cement wall to get the overall vibe of the period, and have your other walls white for contrast.

5. Eerily Charming and decadent

Just because you are emulating the look of the 1800s, you don't need to go all in and forgo all of life's creature comforts. On the contrary, you have dared to go dark and experience how it may have felt and have created something extraordinary that can be accessories to the hilt.

The image uses a dark emerald green to set the scene of 18th century London, a horse and a hansom cab moving noisily through the bustling streets, and then a moment of serenity as you relax in a room bathed in sunlight.

The golden hues of the wood floor bring brightness to the room, and the gray rug offers further warmth and contrast to the dark.

The focal point was the illuminating vivacious lime green chair that dominated the scene so fully and absolute.

How to create this look?

Think emerald green and gray floral wallpaper as the main contrasting point to what could be overwhelming green.

Accessorize the room with a gray rug, modern lamp, and of course the lime green chair that pulls the room from the 1800s into the 70s!

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10, ten is the most difficult. We are moving up the scale with design complexity so this room would be a 7 or 8. Why, well, it's a room of contrasts and contradictions from the main vibe of the intended purpose for the bedroom.

The combination of wallpaper and paint may be a design that is beyond the reach of amateurs.

6. Mystic eclectic design

If you had lived in the 1800 and been a middle-class eccentric this would have been your academic look for your bedroom, a trinket or ornament does not occupy hardly a space.

To some of you, the room is beautiful and offers a sense of crystal balls and tarot cards. To others the clutter would drive you insane.

However, the dark tones have been stretched to the limits of the room with a painted dark wood floor and bookcase. The dusty velvet tones continue to the walls, where violet softens the room.

Could you live in this bedroom and study, or would it be a museum of period artifacts?

How to create this look?

This room is a real commitment to creating the dark academia look and would take considerable effort, so start with some carefully selected ornaments that can be found at garage sales and flea markets.

Use contrast on the bed, the mustard sheets are perfect for elevating the dark tones and the blue pattern duvets add an element of additional interest to the room.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the most difficult. It's a 10. Why? It would take a long time to collect the ornaments and trinkets to make the room, and once you start, you will never stop. There will always be something that will fit the look better.

The decor side is easy, just keep it dark.

7. Moving to the dark side

Three black candles in the candelabra, the Moroccan coffee pot, and the secret history conjure a feeling of menacing overtones. Or life in the 1800s.

To achieve the true academia design vibe you must have books and plenty of books that are hard-backs and preferably in monochrome toner or some maroon reds.

The antique bookshelf is a piece of furniture that could not be used in any other type of setting, the color is perfect for replicating the era.

You may have been a learned person at this time and books would have been your lifeline to knowledge, so the more the merrier.

How to create this look?

It's about books that fit the period in their appearance, in this case, it's aesthetic and the titles may not appeal to you as a reader but will achieve the look you desire.

Candles are so important to creating the look and the silver candelabra works perfectly to give an eerie sense when used with the black candles.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult. It's 5 to 6. Why You need to search from the old-style books which will be time-consuming, you may find imitation period pieces online but to find used books may be a tall order.

The bookshelves could easily be made by a carpenter if you cant source the period look.

8. The academia boudoir

Even back in Victorian times, women would need a set of mirrors for fixing their appearance before venturing into the city on errands.

The mirrors stand on a writing desk where study could be undertaken or letters were written to loved ones far a field in the empire, every desk would have had an ink well or ink pot for writing;

The brass candle snuffer was always needed because elevated candles were difficult to extinguish and the puff of air would not suffice.

The bone china tea cup was an essential part of life and still is in England.

The cracked walls were waiting for a coat of distemper paint that would help to hide the cracks and rough surface.

How to create this look?

The mirrors are standard and can be purchased online from furniture stores, the desk looks to be period but could easily be recreated by aging a newer desk with drawers and then staining it almost black.

The period pieces should be available, bone china cups and the candle snuffer ( not sure if that's the correct name) and the rest of the items can be found online or at local flea markets.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult. Let's say this is a 4. The look should be easy to achieve, disregard the walls, that's not an achievement it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Search online secondhand stores for the period items, many people sell one-offs that are of no use to them.

9. Create the ambiance of the room

Academia is anything school-related, such as research and education furtherment so introduce some of your own academic research ideas and don't stick to the theme to the letter, it will become dysfunctional and you will lose interest in the bedroom.

Although academia is the trend now you can make this look work for you and not let it overpower you. 

You have to remember, there was nothing cool about living in Victorian London, it was a tragic stage of history

During the queen's reign, there were a total of 8 wars being fought across the empire and many families lost their breadwinners.

How to create this look?

Make the room yours and introduce the dark elements of the academia vibe you enjoy, focus on the trinkets such as candles and vases of the time, there are replicas and there is no need to spend a small fortune.

Silver colors work well as a theme for candle snuffers which can be bought online for a period cheaply.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult. It's a 2, this is the easiest and most affordable way to start your academia bedroom, start small, and extend as your confidence grows.

Add dark colors gradually to the bedroom, it's a look you may live with for a few years while studying.

10. Look to the heavens for inspiration

In Victorian England, astrology was incredibly popular with almost everyone and while not funded by the government or universities the wealthy gentry pursued celestial studies with vigor.

Some of the hypotheses were incredibly accurate given the time and equipment they had at their disposal and discoveries of the nebula were uncovered.

Hence it was quite normal to find maps of the celestial stars and images there connected in scholars' homes and studies.

Your dark academia-style bedroom is going to benefit from such a piece of history.

How to create this look?

Search online, if you can't find exactly like this you can find maps of the stars for your hemisphere, frame the map, and use this as your celestial academia piece of art!

The addition of the aspidistra and brass crucible with pessel are nice accessories to compliment the bedroom.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult. It's a 1, search for the right celestial image or purchase an old map of the stars in your hemisphere and frame it. It's a simple one to achieve,

11. When the unorthodox becomes a bedroom to envy

The unorthodox presence of dark academia bedrooms in the 21st century is a paradox to how contemporary designers think but, the truth is the look works on many levels, yes it can dive into the dark realism and become a touch mystical but if you are a pragmatic academic then you can make this look work and be enviable.

Take this dark gray room with white skirting /kickboards and the distressed desk looks like it was pulled from the cauldron of Vesuvius. However, it works.

The antique eye test chart is mastery and the anatomy of a daffodil adds that fair of much-needed yellow.

A multi-colored rug lays perfectly with the design.

How to create this look?

Select a battleship gray, it will be close to the color in the image, and prepare the walls as instructed. Use a brilliant white for the skirting/kickboards around the room to provide the perfect contrast.

Accessories make the room so search high and low for the correct period accessories to make your bedroom.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult. It's a 10. This room is incredible and the design elements shine out brightly, the detailing of the walls, the paint, and the rug is a triumph of design.

Can you do this yourself? Yes with patience and some great decorating skills.

12. Who said it needs to be black or gray?

Although there was never a great array of color available in the Victorian era, what was available looked pretty good and had this dusty tone to it.

The dusty tone is an indication of distemper paint, distemper used natural hues and then fillers such as chalk which was in abundance in the south of England, combined with rendered animal glue the paint took on a distinctive appearance and odor.

This maroon-colored paint is blissfully soothing and perfect for the dark academia bedroom, the washed white drawer set gives the essential contrast to the rear wall and the bedding colors bring the bedroom to a cohesive conclusion.

How to create this look?

You can copy this color and search for a dusty version (not old and dusty) to imitate the original color used. A steel bed is a must; the other accessories can be switched but keep the same theme going throughout the bedroom.

Period lamps are a nice touch and together with the large rug with shades of red and white with a distressed appearance.

How easy is this look to achieve? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most difficult. It may be a 7 or 8, depending on your decoration abilities.

The room is a simple design and comes together with the use of accessories so as long as you can source the accessories it is achievable but could be time-consuming.

13. A room from Charles Dickens home

Ok, it's a child's room and it does not seem very academic but the point is that you can combine deep reds and greens to make your dark academia bedroom.

You can use creams in your room and bring the bright tones down with period books and lamps, you can achieve the look easily with bookcases and other accessories.

Remember the stars were popular and anything celestial in your bedroom would be on point. You can think further afield than England for trinkets. The British Empire spanned the globe and if your loved one was a military person you would have moments from campaigns.

The look does not have to be austere and somewhat spooky, intriguing, yes but nothing negative.

How to create the dark academia bedroom style?

Research is the key. You can copy images and make a perfect room, but what will set your room aside from others is the authenticity of the period look, so use accessories to create the look.

Don't go for the cluttered look. It's depressing, it gathers dust, and will ultimately make you wish you had gone with a different look.

If you are going to paint, try to use distemper paints, you can find them online and maybe at an established local paint store near your home.

If the room gets overwhelmed, introduce some white, use the 60 30 10 rule keep 10% of your walls for your dark accent and the other walls white and a contrast.

Be bold with bedding colors. You live in a much better era so keep the room comfortable.