In dark-colored rooms, avoid white or off-white upholstery, because the outline of the furniture will dominate the space. The contrast is too high and the richness of the dark background makes the fabric look thin. Generally, when you have dark-colored walls, a printed fabric with a dark background looks best. Light colors never come to life in a dark room but a rich, deep color can make a dim, somber space feel warm and luminous – even without natural light. This is why powder rooms and media rooms are usually painted a rich, deep, color.
If you have white or light-colored walls, an upholstery fabric with a white or light colored background looks good, because it adds to the open feeling of the space. Notice how homes that have lots of natural light are mostly white? Because white works with that much light. You need that much natural light.
Whether bookcases are the same color as the walls or a contrasting color makes an enormous difference to the composition. If you have solid-colored walls, the best way to integrate the bookcases is to paint them the same color as the walls. If you have light walls, you can contrast the bookcases, or paint them white to match the woodwork in the room so they blend in nicely. If you have dark walls with woodwork in the same color, natural or stained wood bookcases will look awkward. They will appear to be free-floating rather than built in. The composition will look disharmonious. But when they are painted “out” to match the walls, they disappear in depth and structural form and simply become receivers of books.
If you have a fireplace, look at the interior firebrick. You can paint the brick black using fireproof paint in order to recess it and provide high contrast to the fire and embers.
Paint the back wall of a bookcase a color contrasting to that of the sides and shelves to give depth and a subtle addition of color. Pale green, yellow, or blue is pretty against a white bookcase.
If you have a brown cabinet, paint the inside a pretty color so your objects will show well. If it is a valuable antique, you can stretch silk instead, in order not to hurt the value of the piece. Choose a color that will complement your objects.