It seems that black always is in style. Yet many homeowners are reticent to use black in décor. We asked four color experts to shed some light on the subject.
A Bit of Black
Afraid of going big? It only takes a touch of black to make a bold statement. “Home accessories such as pillows, mirrors, picture frames and lamps are safe and easy ways to introduce black into your home with a minimal investment,” says Michael Murphy, design and trends producer at Lamps Plus, Los Angeles.
Instead of solid black, “Try black paired with other colors in prints and patterns like the popular chevron, the classic stripe or a geometric pattern,” Jordan suggests.
Wide “cabana stripes” in black and white “are a great way to use black on rugs and chairs,” says paint color consultant Kristie Barnett, author of The Decorologist blog.
If painting furniture, “Don’t do a whole suit in black – just do one or two pieces,” says Barnett.
As with white or gray, “There are many variations of black so it’s important to pay attention to undertones including blue, green and violet,” says Jackie Jordan, retired director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “Also be careful with sheen and texture. The smoother and shinier it is, the more it will show everything from dust to fingerprints to water spots.”
The metallics in a predominantly black room should be warm. A silvery gold looks current. “Steer away from silver or chrome. It looks dated,” says New York-based textile designer Rebecca Atwood.
Bold and Black
“Black paint on the walls can be really nice. You can definitely get away with it in a bedroom if you do an all-white bed,” Atwood says. “If you do black on the walls, you need to use it sparingly throughout the rest of the room and choose light furnishings that stand out against the black.”
If a focal point or large piece of furniture is black, “you need other black things throughout the space, smaller things, to pull your eyes around the room; otherwise, your eyes fixate on just that one thing,” Atwood says. “It’s like a black hole.”
Black on a Budget
Lighting fixtures aren’t inexpensive, but switching out a single fixture or lampshade can have the effect of a full makeover. For instant drama, Atwood recommends a black lampshade with a gold metallic inner liner. Murphy suggests a black chandelier.
Painting interior doors black “adds a cosmopolitan feel,” Barnett says. “Paint just the door, not the frame or the trim, and use a light, neutral color on the walls for contrast.”
Even cheap doors look “high-end” when painted black, she adds.
Barnett is also a fan of painting wooden window mullions black with white trim. It doesn’t spoil the view with a pronounced grid but rather “brings the eye out into the landscape,” she says.