What is Dark Academia Aesthetic and Style?

Saffron Marigold - Updated: October 9, 2022

If you love warm, earthy tones, plush fabrics, and traditional styles, the dark academia aesthetic may be your new go-to style. More so if you enjoy pressing flowers, writing in journals, and reading (printed) novels. This fashion style has taken social media by storm, and we’re likely to see it trickle into the interior design world for years to come. Embrace the dark academia style with these 9 design ideas, plus color palette samples and fashion tips.

What is the dark academia aesthetic?

The dark academia aesthetic is inspired by all things intellectual and old world. It is also influenced by fantasy and sci-fi themes. Think of the Harry Potter series or any Sherlock Holmes adaptations. Basically, anything produced by the BBC or any period drama involving a likable protagonist and a big costume budget.

Dark academia aesthetic values literature, classic Greek tragedies and sculptures, and takes design inspiration from settings like ivy league type schools—Oxford, Harvard, and Brown, for example. Technology is de-emphasized, but other material luxuries like luxury fabrics, rare vintage finds, and fine arts are highlighted.

9 ideas for decorating in a dark academia style

Boarding schools, ivy league university campuses, and secret society novels all influence dark academia room decor.

1. Dark academia bedroom

For a dark academia bedroom, imagine an extravagant boarding school dorm room or a bedroom of an aristocrat who loves learning. Although dark academia fashion is defined by browns, you can venture out to more colorful lands when it comes to dark academia interior design.

For this, we suggest red, dark green, or dark blue. Although Ruby Kilim can look rustic, it fits the dark academia bill with its moody color palette of red and black, plus intriguing geometric designs. It pairs well with gold, white, and other reds.

Show me ruby kilim

Complete the look

Instead of going rustic, lean into the traditional elements of dark academia with decor like a Greek bust or Renaissance art gallery wall. Stylized frames and thick upholstery help bring your room together.


Diana of Versailles: Bonded Marble Resin Sculptural Bust


Renaissance Collage Art Print


Maura Gallery Picture Frame – Set of 4

Living Spaces

Pouf – Red Velvet Textured Detail

2. Light academia bedroom

By contrast, a light academia bedroom is more whimsical and airy. For your bedding, we suggest something romantic like Vanilla Glace or Gardens of Versailles. Both prints accommodate gold accents and quirky decor, and make your room feel warm—a hallmark of light academia design.

Show me vanilla glace

Complete the look

Botanical prints, butterfly diagrams, and geographic prints make up a light academia bedroom. Accessorize with vintage-inspired pieces like amber vases, dried grasses, and gilded figurines.


Light Academia Decor Aesthetic Mega Bundle Printable Gallery Wall Art Set

Oriental Trading

Amber Vases with Pampas Grass Centerpiece Kit

Layla Grayce

Villa & House Olive Statue – Gold

Well Appointed House

Pink and White Striped French Chair With Antiqued Gold Gilding

3. Dark academia workspace or library

Of course, the dark academia style shines best in a workspace like your home office or library. While your bedroom may be decorated with red, try a dark blue aesthetic for your workspace. Celestial Embrace and Starry Nights provide a beautiful dark blue canvas for your academia decor. How about an astronomy theme featuring these collections’ celestial motifs?

Show me celestial embrace

Complete the look

Bring out globes, astrological sketches, and other school-related pieces for your workspace. Smaller curios like Greek-inspired bookends and brass candleholders round out the look.


Black Marble Globe


Concrete Ancient Greek Column Bookend

West Elm

Lucia Chair Chenille Tweed, Camel


Dark Academia Decor Astrology Gallery Wall Art

4. Light academia workspace or library

For a light academia office or library, gather furniture in off-white or beige, and decorative elements in shades of brown, yellow, and pale greens or blues. To hone in on the mystical vibe, try the Celestial Embrace white sheer curtain and accessorize with a romantic throw pillow print like Morning Dew. The gold, white, and teal speak to each other in a light academia workspace.

Show me morning dew

Complete the look

Art Nouveau prints lend an otherworldy atmosphere to your office. Pillar candles in ornate candle holders will make your library feel like a great study hall in an ivy league university or the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

Great Big Canvas

Art Nouveau Mai Wall Art

Lamps Plus
Antique Brass with Marble Piano Desk Lamp
Interior Define

Caitlin Accent Chair, Alabaster


Butterfly Garden Cloche

5. Dark academia living room

With dark academia style, you don’t have to stick to black or brown. Jewel tones like amethyst, emerald, and topaz also create that exotic, old world vibe. Just take our Mystic Amethyst (from our Dreams of India Collection) sheer curtain panel for instance—it harmonizes with the rich yellows, browns, and black of dark academia style.

Show me dreams of india

Complete the look

Create balance by choosing a complementary color to Mystic Amethyst such as a gold rug or brassy decor. Glass goods and glossy finishes will also brighten up a dark room.


Haslingden Wall Clock

Touch of Class

Chalemette Vase Ivory/Black

Quick Candles

Richland Vintage Charm Candle Holder Purple Set


Marlowe Handknotted Gold Area Rug 5’x8′

6. Light academia living room

What’s more dreamy than our Dragonfly and Lotus print? In a sheer curtain, the golden natural motifs shine against the white fabric. It feels timeless and will add a little bit of glam to a light academia living room.

Show me dragonfly and lotus

Complete the look

Echo the gold in Dragonfly and Lotus with gold finish decor. Hang up dried flowers and grasses or keep them displayed in a glass vase to create a space reminiscent of a Victorian herbarium.

Touch of Class

Arellia Accent Clock Gold/Ivory


Cloudy Gallery Wall Set of 6 | Light Academia Paintings


Glass Candlestick Holders

Ballard Design

Suzanne Kasler Emilyn Hand Knotted Rug

7. Dark academia dining room

Amaze guests with the splendor of a dark academia dining room, your tablescape extraordinary and spellbinding. Try the Spice Route table runner for a moody, global dining atmosphere fit for a boarding school’s banquet hall. Create contrast with a bright kitchen curtain like Royal Mansour, which oozes elegance and great taste.

Show me spice route

Complete the look

Fascinate the senses with bewitching tabletop decor like a set of earthy vases and an abstract tray. Deep browns and grays complement Spice Route well.

Lulu and Georgia

Molloy Vases (Set of 8)

Burke Decor

Bronze Organic Glass Tray

8. Light academia dining room

Sweet and delicate is the name of the game with a light academia dining room. Every piece should have a story to tell, like the Morning Dew round table cloth, Orange Blossom kitchen curtain, and Vanilla Glace napkins singing of sunlit mornings and nature’s glory.

Show me orange blossom

Complete the look

Botanical motifs reign supreme in the light academia aesthetic. Exquisite vases and serving trays keep a light academia dining room from looking too casual. Best of all, natural motifs can be repurposed for other interior design styles.

Michael Aram

Butterfly Ginkgo Centerpiece Vase

Michael Aram

Butterfly Ginkgo Medium Tray

9. Alchemy academia living room

The alchemy dark academia style is centered around mystical symbols and other esoteric themes. Jeweled Peacock is the perfect print to anchor your otherworldly elements—its vibrant teal ground boasts shimmery golden orbs that will match the rest of your alchemy academia decor. The jewel colors in Moonlit Taj—lapis, turquoise, and deep green—are also on theme.

Show me moonlit taj

Complete the look

Tarot card prints, crystal trays, and divine theme decor play up the mysticism of alchemy. Bonus points if you have string lights and incense burning on an altar.

Uncommon Goods

Celestial Desktop Timekeepers


A Floral Tarot Print – The Empress Art Print

Requiem Resin Shop

Witchy Candle Holder, Decorative Dish, Altar Display

Decor Market

Safavieh Crystal Rug Collection – Teal/Rose

Color palettes for a dark academia aesthetic

Academia room decor is mostly brown, black, white, and gray.

Dark academia

Dark academia room decor favor browns in every shade, plus black, dark green, dark red, and gray. A dark blue aesthetic also works, but stick to shades like navy, indigo, and denim, if not jewel colors.

Light academia

With light academia, you can expand your color story with lighter shades of brown and blues, and even light pinks and purples.

Alchemy academia

Like its name suggests, alchemy academia takes inspiration from natural elements. Use jewel tones like teal, topaz, citrine, and peridot in your academia style room.

Dark academia fashion

Dark academia fashion is all about the preppy look, but with natural and neutral colors like brown, black, and beige. Other colors are introduced depending on the style.

Dark academia fashion

Medium- to heavy weight fabrics like tweed, oxford, and corduroy were made for dark academia outfits. For classic feminine styles, stick with preppy silhouettes like flared skirts or dresses, collared blouses, and tailored blazers or coats. Footwear ranges from oxford platforms to high-top sneakers.

For classic masculine dark academia styles, show up in knitted turtlenecks, crewneck sweaters, patterned pants, and long coats. Oxford shoes or similar dress shoes are a must.

If you want to take inspiration from Dead Poets Society, find a striped cardigan or plaid overshirt. Accessorize with a wool scarf, a leather messenger bag, and glasses.

Light academia fashion

With light academia, there is an emphasis on the preppy aspect. Cable knit vests, argyle sweaters, tighter fits, and beige tones dominate this style.

Alchemy academia fashion

Alchemy academia is concerned with witchy affairs—potions, elixirs, scientific themes. Crystal pendants, lacy or mesh fabrics, and black accented by jewel tones make up the alchemy academia style.

Gothic academia fashion

As its name suggests, Gothic Academia style takes inspiration from romantic gothic styles. Like alchemy academia, it’s often described as witchy. Victorian motifs like full skirts, long coats, and collared tops are essential here. Black and ruby red is the palette of choice.

Dark academia is more than a fashion style, it’s also an interior design style that’s popping up in homes around the globe. It combines old world style with an edgy, literature-inspired aesthetic with contemporary motifs like Grecian statues, botanical accents, and jewel tones. If you enjoyed our guide on dark academia aesthetic, take a look at our other design guides to help you find the right style (or mix of styles) for your home.

Shop All Collections