10 Things To Keep In Mind For Dark Academia Decor

Entranced by the darkly alluring aesthetic known as Dark Academia? Find out how you can decorate your room (or others!) to be in-line with this popular aesthetic.
Photo by David Mitchell on Unsplash 

A recent trend that has sprung up into popularity as of late is the visual aesthetic known as "Dark Academia." Mood boards all over websites like Tumblr and Pinterest boast bookshelves crammed with aged books and texts, marble busts, vintage tweed jackets, grandfather clocks, and all sorts of other imagery that encompasses this general aesthetic. It's a visual theme that revolves around embracing visual motifs that are found in classic art and literature and the pursuit of knowledge. It's a recent trend full of things that aren't very recent at all.

So, how do you embrace this style in your room decor?

Here are the things to keep in mind for dark academia decor:

1. Patterns and designs for the dark aesthetics

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There are many patterns and visual motifs to keep in mind while designing your dream room in this dark aesthetic. Think old, think elegance, think dark. What do you think Sherlock Holmes' wallpaper looked like? Sometimes a minimal approach can get the job done just as well - white walls or walls with darker colors would do the trick. Wooden flooring would also introduce an older vibe to the room with the creaking of the floorboards setting more nuance to the mysterious vibe. 

As long as you can at least look at the room and immediately think you had been time-warped to some European boarding school in the 1940s (at the latest), then you've done a good job. 

2. Stack your shelves!

old books
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Another component of the dark academia aesthetic is classic literature. Many books that you might have read in your high school English class could be contenders for the type of books that dark academics seek out. Frankenstein, Dante's Inferno, any Jane Austen title, Shakespeare (obviously), Emily Dickenson, Albert Camus, Feodor Dostoyevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald - these are just some of the examples of literature that are aligned with this aesthetic. Think of books that prompt you to really think, to philosophize, to question things such as society. These are excellent books to keep in the room as both décors on your bookshelves and coffee table and as other ways to really entrench yourself into the aesthetic.

Extra points if you can find older editions of these titles!

3. Stylize your wardrobe

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Clothing is probably the easiest way to start living with the dark academia aesthetic, as you begin to train your eyes to spot what "fits" and what doesn't fit the aesthetic while you're attaining more outfits. There are some specific rules and regulations for what is dark academia and what isn't, but here are some examples of it for you to get an idea:

  • Cardigans, blazers, waistcoats
  • Tweed trousers, dress pants, ankle pants
  • Plaid skirts, long skirts, pleated skirts, pinafores
  • Knee-high socks, watches, satchels, glasses with wireframes

If you dress with the aesthetic, nothing that you wear would look out of place in your room if you happen to leave a coat out. 

4. All the colors of the Dark Academia rainbow

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Darker colors and neutral colors are what make up this aesthetic. Maroon, black, many shades of gray, dark green, and brown are just examples of the color palette that you're working with when it comes to this aesthetic. No unusually bright colors such as neon are suitable for the aesthetic, as they'll stick out like a sore thumb. White is probably the brightest color you should have in your room or its more "aged" counterparts such as cream or ivory. 

Colors are important, if not the most important besides having some aesthetic-matching items because they are the first thing you notice in a room. If you immediately think "this is a dark room" or "this looks like an older room," you're already halfway there. 

5. Adding Knick-knacks and antiques

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If you like thrifting, this step will be an easy one! Antique stores are often the best way to find items that'll match the dark academia aesthetic that you're going for. Old clocks, cameras, books, furniture, knick-knacks - the only problem you might come across is where to find the nearest antique store to you! Regular thrift stores are an alternative source but they often don't stock up on the types of items that you'd find in a dark academia mood board.

So, the next best thing is to browse online. eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and any other sellers you may come across could help you find just the things you need for your décor. Often times you won't find exactly what you're looking for, but seeing all of the options out there will help you generate ideas on what other items you could want for your room. Remember: They don't have to be actual antiques so long as they look like it. 

6. Dark Academia doesn't have to be eurocentric

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Certainly, you've noticed a general theme throughout the previous bullet points - all things that are dark are more or less required in order to fit the aesthetic. However, if you google the aesthetic online you will find that the majority of the results are all involving very Eurocentric items and ideas. As a result, many people feel that they are excluded from the aesthetic because it doesn't encompass their own cultures (and may even exhibit a sense of superiority over other cultures) despite their liking for the overall aesthetic.

This is the best part about aesthetics - at the end of the day, no one really owns them. Nobody will (or can) stop you from adding influences from your own culture into the mix in order to create an environment that feels totally you. This goes with clothing as well! Why not add a bit of your own flair that both represents the aesthetic and your own culture? Anyone can do what they want in order to feel comfortable and properly represented.

7. Furniture for the darkroom

Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels

The more expensive factor into creating your own dark academia room furniture. Whether you're decorating your bedroom or a sitting room, there is no denying that this will be the hardest part to accomplish. Money's not the only factor; a lot of furniture just isn't made the same way as it used to be in order to chase newer trends. 

It's okay to buy furniture that doesn't exactly fit the aesthetic so long as you remember the general rules for colors and fabrics. Leather is usually fine, which makes your search a lot easier as it is a common furniture fabric. 

8. Paintings and pictures from the Renaissance

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels

If you want to get more creative with how to further implement the aesthetic in your room, paintings or pictures to frame and hang up or to have sitting on bookshelves or side tables is another great way to do so! Since dark academia has elements involving the classics and the study of knowledge, what better way to express this aesthetic than to incorporate paintings from the Renaissance? (Note: I don't expect you to rob the Louvre for this!)

There are numerous places online that you can find where they sell prints that would absolutely cater to the aesthetic without the cost or issue of spacing. Etsy, Amazon, and numerous other sites are great places to find prints that would feel right at home on your walls with the right prices.

9. Fitting smells makes scents

Photo by thevibrantmachine on Pexels

What better way to increase the vibes of being in a mysterious room full of knowledge and secrets than to introduce a fitting scent? Scents with warm and musky notes are winners for this aesthetic such as coffee, paper, smoke, Earl Gray tea, light tobacco, and anything else you could think of. There are numerous sellers for candles, with there even being an entire market of indie perfumes and candle scents, so explore and find out what you think would suit the vibes of your room best. 

10. Play the soundtrack that goes with the aesthetic

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Decorating itself is a fun activity, but what can make it even more fun? Music! While you're more than welcome to listen to modern music from your own personal playlists, it can also help you get in the mindset of the aesthetic if you pick specific songs that just go with the setup of your room perfectly. Classical music is an obvious choice, with the works of composers such as Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. Piano and string instruments often vibe with the dark academia aesthetic pretty well, as it makes you feel like you just dropped into your own movie set! 

Speaking of - movie scores are another great addition to your decorating playlist! Some modern artists are also producing sounds that pair nicely with the aesthetic, such as Hozier and Lana Del Ray if you want a more modern spin to it. Some old blues can also be included.

Just Remember

The most important thing of all is to remember your finances for this endeavor. Dark academia is an expensive aesthetic to get into as it calls for vintage items that are getting pricier and pricier nowadays. Even just clothing can add up as the fabrics (such as tweed) are often more expensive than those in modern fashion. If your wallet doesn't quite match up to these standards, don't fret. You can still achieve this aesthetic so long as you shop wisely for what you want. Blended fabrics are a cheaper and more affordable way to imitate classic fashion without having to empty your wallet as well as finding alternatives in different fabrics together.

At the end of the day, it's all about having fun. Don't stress yourself out about not being able to fit the aesthetic perfectly. There are few of us who can. Happy decorating!

I'm a writer in university just trying to find my groove. I write mainly entertainment and lifestyle articles.

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