2023 Home Trends to Watch: Dark Academia

For homeowners who enjoy warmly-lit, cozy interiors and enjoy a deep desire for reading and learning, Dark Academia is a 2023 home trend to watch. The whole aesthetic looks like a cross between gothic architecture, the Ivy League, and the Victorian era. It’s part fantastical and part moody, and anyone who’s a fan of Harry Potter or Sherlock Holmes is sure to connect with its smart decor.

Sound interesting? Here are some of the key elements of Dark Academia interior design.

Please note: This blog post contains affiliate links and the author of the blog may earn a commission if you purchase through the link. This is at no additional cost to you. It’s like a virtual high-five for providing quality content.

Dark, Moody Colors

The color palette of Dark Academia resembles the deep, rich colors of the Victorian Era. Think Brunswick Green, Mocha Brown, Aegean, Ochre, and Crimson. More muted earthy tones can also be used. Sherwin-William’s Greenblack, Black Bean, Renwick Golden Oak, and Shiitake are some example colors that fit the aesthetic. Just keep in mind that mixing lighter colors in with the dark will help keep this aesthetic from feeling overwhelming.

Wall Paneling and Millwork

Decorative wall paneling, like wainscoting, and fancy millwork, like Sheffield Fretwork, are common wall features in Dark Academia rooms. Whether painted in one of the rich colors above or finished more traditionally with a medium-to-dark stain, paneling creates an aesthetic like the traditional Ivy League campuses and libraries.

Some millwork can be very detailed, giving a room a more modern, but still refined, look. While curves are another trend we are seeing in 2023, when choosing millwork for Dark Academia, it’s best to stick to straight lines and corners. Think of boxes and rectangles.

Velvet and Leather Furniture

Velvet and leather (or faux leather) is a large part of the Dark Academia aesthetic. The most fitting pieces have tufted patterns and ornate wood details, and stick to the darker color scheme. Dark green is a very popular choice.

Ornate Gold Mirrors

Maybe it’s a symbol of the inner reflection needed to understand the world or perhaps it’s an innate need to create more light amongst the dark colors of the Dark Academia aesthetic, but ornate mirrors are often seen in this decor style. While they can be any color, they are most frequently finished in gold paint. The larger they are, they better.


Homeowners will be hard set to find a Dark Academia room that doesn’t have books in it. It’s one reason why the aesthetic ranks so high among bibliophiles. Shelves are lined with books. Coffee tables and fireplace mantels have stacks of them. Sideboards display them with fancy bookends and, of course, what is a bedside table without a pile of books?

For a true Dark Academia aesthetic, antique hardbound books, especially gilded, are the best accent pieces, but not everyone can afford those. However, you can find a whole section in Barnes & Noble dedicated to their Collectibles Series, which consist of hardbound books with nice, sleeveless covers. They have the classics (Dracula, Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby, etc.) and modern works (Star Wars: Tales of Kenobi, Jurassic Park, The Stand, etc.). Who else needs an excuse to buy more books?

Amazon also has deluxe hardbound books. They aren’t as easy to browse as Barnes & Noble, but if there’s a book you have your heart set on, it’s worth a quick search. You may also find you prefer one hardcover version over another. They all have a similar design style, so it’s easy to mix and match.

Curio Accent Pieces

Buried within the elements of Dark Academia is the desire to learn and educate oneself about the world around us. In addition to reading, as the books above imply, it’s also done through the study of science and nature. These topics are commonly put on display, usually with some creativity, which is why curios are the accent pieces of choice.

MistyMorels - Preserved Honeybee

MistyMorels – Preserved Honeybee

A curio is an intriguing or rare object that may be considered bizarre or an oddity. They may be specimen jars, models, terrariums, or dioramas. They may even by taxidermy, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Vinacreations4 - Framed Death Head Moth Taxidermy

Vinacreations4 – Framed Death Head Moth Taxidermy

Moody Art

Wall art in the Dark Academia aesthetic is usually moody and filled with color palettes that could also fit the Gothic décor style. Botanicals, animals, and human physiology are common topics. Sometimes their portrayals are bizarre, but there is always beauty in the piece.

RenArtPrint - Dark Floral Wall Art

RenArtPrint – Dark Floral Wall Art

Paintings that show signs of age through cracking and wear, or that feature patina colors, are fitting choices for this décor style. Pair them with vintage-looking frames for the ultimate touch of refinement. Both singular large pieces and gallery walls work well with this style.

RenArtPrint - Moody Owl Painting

RenArtPrint – Moody Owl Painting

Greek Style Sculptures

One more accent piece that is popular amongst decorators of Dark Academia are Greek style sculptures. This is likely good news to those of you who are enjoying Hellenistic Revival. Of course, they don’t need to be historic replicas as long as they maintain some element of that style.

GergedanDesign - David Bust Skull

GergedanDesign – David Bust Skull

Looking for more Dark Academia inspiration? Visit our Pinterest board!

Read the fourth post in our 2023 Home Trends to Watch series, Curves.

2023 Home Trends to Watch - Dark Academia

2023 Home Trends to Watch – Dark Academia

About the Author
Meghan Henderson
Meghan is the Marketing Specialist for The Cameron Team and a published author of two young adult books. She also creates digital and printable planners and trackers, as well as coloring pages for Larkspur & Tea.