When speaking about visual weight, we need to talk about color, but not in the conventional way. Color preferences vary enormously from person to person and are beyond the scope of our experience of space, and it's this characteristic that we'll discuss here.
A dark-colored surface absorbs more light than it reflects. It seems heavy in our peripheral vision, and our senses tell us that the surface must be closer to us than it actually is. It's literally as though light colors connote expansion, while dark colors connote contraction. With our present-day language preferences for bigger, lighter, and airier, we might assume that a surface that is closer and darker would immediately feel oppressive and so be undesirable, but in many cases the opposite is true. The words themselves may have negative connotations but the quality of space created is often warm and comfortable.
Texture, too, can give a surface increased visual weight. A textured surface breaks up the light that strikes it, creating patterns of shade and shadow, which make the surface appear darker than if the entire area were smooth. For example, a ceiling with exposed joints or rafters looks darker and lower than one that is flat because the light that strikes it gets broken up. It may seem counterintuitive to want to make a ceiling feel lower or a wall feel closer, but sometimes this is exactly what's needed to make a room seem appropriately proportioned, as well as to add personality.
Adapted with permission from Home by Design by Sarah Susanka, published by The Taunton Press (2004).