Decorating with black – 11 inspiring ways to use this dramatic shade
Bring impact and sophistication to interiors with these ideas for decorating with black
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Decorating with black is a wonderful way to make a bold statement. A strong, robust shade, black is guaranteed to bring drama and impact to interiors and is becoming increasingly popular as we become more confident with color.
'Black adds drama, strength and solidity to a space. It can also portray edginess and creates a contemporary look even when paired with more a traditional furniture,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown. 'Dark colors have become more mainstream – they can really give a room a feeling of luxury and sophistication and work surprisingly well in a small area to give it some grandeur,' she adds.
If you're tempted to venture to the dark side and decorate with black then you've come to the right place as we've rounded up an array of beautiful black room ideas to help you get inspired alongside some handy advice from the experts.
Decorating with black
Decorating with black is a bold choice which can be difficult to get right. Luckily, being a pure pigment, it is hugely versatile and can be paired with almost any shade on the color wheel, plus it can be used to create an array of different looks within interior design depending on how it is used and in what proportion.
‘Dark and dramatic paint colors such as black have a way of adding ambience and sophistication to a space. Black can come across as intimidating; however, it’s the way you use it that changes the feel. This daring color can look luxurious and courageous while still having a timeless, intimate appeal,’ says Tom Howley (opens in new tab), founder of the eponymous kitchen company.
There's no doubt that black kitchen ideas have risen in popularity in recent years, but black can also be a get addition to many other rooms, too. Used wall-to-wall black is perfect for making a lasting impression and bringing wow-factor to dining rooms as well as an intimate feel to living rooms. Alternatively, for a more subtle approach to decorating with black, consider introducing it as an accent color through furniture, accessories and lighting, or using it to highlight architectural features.
Bring sophistication to a kitchen
Black kitchens are a fabulous way to create a contemporary yet elegant look and have grown in popularity in recent years as homeowners and interior designers alike become more daring with color and seek to create unique, engaging looks.
‘Color completely alters the mood of a kitchen,’ says Leisha Norman, designer at Harvey Jones (opens in new tab). ‘Used cleverly, darker shades of grey, green, blue and even black add sophistication, like in the Arbor kitchen here, especially with statement handles and well-positioned lighting.’
To keep black kitchens feeling bright and uplifting, choose a light worktop and floor, such as the pale wood seen here, which also brings essential texture and warmth.
Use black to create a cocooning feel
Decorating with black in the living room needn't leave the space feeling cold and lifeless – with the right accent colors and plenty of sumptuous texture, black living rooms can feel wonderfully cozy and cocooning.
'Using dark charcoal greys or black shades can create a sense of intimacy, and an encompassing feel when used in an all-over scheme. Don’t be afraid to use darker shades in spaces lacking natural light, these can often be great places for creating impact and a real wrap-around feel,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene.
Decorating with orange accents is a great way to bring warmth to black rooms, while tactile fabrics such as velvet and printed fabrics will help add softness and interest.
'The pop of orange on the upholstered velvet sofa is in a pleasing balance with dark grey,' says Vanessa Arbuthnott (opens in new tab) of this scheme. 'The paint, curtains and chair really need the orange to enliven and warm up the contemporary space.'
Team black with marble
If you're after a sophisticated, urban look then you can't go wrong with pairing black cabinets with metallics and marble say the experts.
'Black is our new love, we introduced it a few years ago here at deVOL and I think people were a bit scared, but it’s in full flow now! Think late night bars, speakeasies and restaurants in New York City for the look,' says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL (opens in new tab). For a look with impact she suggests to, 'think big grand kitchen cupboards and especially big islands painted black with some brass for the foot rails or aged copper for the worktops and certainly a splash of softly rounded Carrara marble, which just isn’t ever going to go out of fashion.
'It’s the curves of the brass and marble that really make this look so fabulous and dramatic.'
Decorate with classic black and white
Black makes a brilliant accent color if you are thinking of decorating with white. A classic pairing, decorating with black and white brings a sleek and sophisticated look.
To add interest and depth to a black and white living room try adding in pops of gold to liven up the look, as well as layer printed fabrics in different scales and designs to add texture.
Warm up black rooms with wood
Black can be a dominating shade in interiors, so if you're thinking of decorating with black wall-to-wall, as well as over the ceiling, be sure to include elements that will break up the space and bring warmth.
In this home office by Studio McGee (opens in new tab), a wooden sideboard in a rich brown hue and a tan leather chair both provide an antidote to the flat wall color, while large, light artwork and sculptural cream coffee table also serve to break up the space. The black ceiling makes the perfect backdrop to showcase a statement metallic light fitting.
Bring luxury to the bathroom
Decorating with black alongside marble in the bathroom is guaranteed to bring a dramatic and sophisticated look. In this luxury bathroom designed by Meyer Davis (opens in new tab), a black painted ceiling idea co-ordinates with the black veining of the marble while drawing attention to the height and architecture of the room.
'The walls complement the blackened steel at the leg of the vanity, and at the same time the coolness in the black adds contrast to the warmth and fiery qualities of the brass. We tried to search for the darkest vein in the marble and chose a shade to match,' says William Meyer, co-founder and interior designer and co-founder of Meyer Davis.
When it comes to designing black and white bathrooms, 'a pop of black against light colors, especially high gloss black paint, can give a space a memorable and strong impact, and the glossiness means light will bounce and reflect the room,' adds William Meyer.
Bring drama to a dining room
If you love to entertain, then decorating with black in the dining room is a fabulous way to bring a sense of drama and occasion to dinner parties.
When thinking about your dining room paint ideas, 'consider deeper darks such as Hague Blue or Railings for an elegant yet surprising saturation of color, even take it over your woodwork in Modern Eggshell to lose any contrast between wall colour,' suggests says Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab).
This 'color drench' approach to decorating with black will bring an enveloping feel and add to the atmosphere of the room.
Soften black with pastel pink
Black is a great color for decorating with as it is extremely versatile. As a pure tone, black works well in combination with most shades, making it a useful color when it comes to interior design. For a gentler take on decorating with black, consider pairing it with a selection of grays in different tones, alternatively pastel shades such as pink work can look particularly effective, as demonstrated in this deVOL kitchen.
Black cabinets can bring real impact as well as a contemporary feel to a kitchen, however, 'add a touch of blush pink to the walls and you instantly get a softer look whilst still keeping the drama,' says creative director Helen Parker.
Tone down the black for a softer look
If you're cautious of decorating with black, but still love the idea of a dark living room, then consider moving across the spectrum towards darker grey and charcoal tones.
'When used for more than trimmings or details, black makes a bold, modern and dramatic statement. While pitch black pigments might be intimidating, softer shades with warm undertones is a relaxing alternative,' advises Dominic Myland, director of Mylands Paints (opens in new tab). 'Mylands’ Lock Keeper™ No. 18 is a rich grey brown paint, with pink undertones that provides a comforting backdrop and inviting space.'
Use black as an accent in a white room
Using a two-tone combination of black and white in a bedroom is a great way to achieve a luxurious look.
'This client wanted their bedroom to feel like some of the high end European hotels that they'd stayed in and all of their inspiration images were high contrast, mostly black and white rooms. Their bedroom is relatively small, but I wanted it to feel grand which was why I selected a four poster bed. It doesn't take up any additional floor space than a regular bed but demands attention by the vertical volume,' says interior designer Corine Maggio of this black and white bedroom design.
'Black was an easy decision because we knew we wanted white walls and high contrast. To draw attention to the bed white bedding was the obvious choice, plus, it supported the hospitality feel we were working towards. The high contrast pillows give additional depth and evoke classic European motifs.'
Use black to temper patterned wallpaper
If you're cautious of using black on all four walls, then try using it to highlight architectural features within a room or using it to set-off your living room wallpaper ideas as demonstrated in this space.
'Blacks and dark greys also work fantastically well on woodwork, skirting or as a highlight stripe in place of a dado rail, adding definition and contrast to a design scheme,’ says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene.
Can black be an accent color?
Black makes a great accent color for bringing depth to a room and can be introduced in many ways, from paint ideas and wallpaper to furniture, lighting and flooring ideas.
Being a pure pigment, black makes a brilliant accent color as it pairs easily with many other colors. It is a great shade for using as an accent if you are decorating with white or with light colors, especially in a kitchen, as it can help anchor and bring depth to the space.
'If you incorporate black into your kitchen scheme in a subtle way, such as painting kitchen cupboards, it will give the scheme definition and add depth to the room without having to completely change the space. It’s a classic tone that can be easily brought into an interior scheme and used alongside existing pieces already inside the home,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown.
How can I use black in my living room?
There are many ways to use black in a living room, being a pure pigment it works well with most colors. For a bold, contemporary look you can't go wrong with decorating with black and white and channelling a high-contrast two-tone approach.
Alternatively, if you're after something a little easier on the eye, 'black works well with white and soft greys to create a classic or monochrome look and it also surprisingly works with soft muted pastels for a calmer take on this dramatic trend,' says Justyna Korczynska.
Used wall-to-wall black can bring a cocooning and intimate feel to living rooms which is perfect if you you are seeking to make a large living room feel more cosy and welcoming. Alternatively, for a gentler take on decorating with black that won't dominate the space, consider introducing the shade through furniture or accessories – this is a good ay to bring a contemporary edge to a calm or traditional scheme.
Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.
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