Black is the newest darling in decorating trends, but is it a fad or a classic? And why did it crash onto the decorating stage? The answer to the second question is most likely that it is a reaction to recent dominance of gray, griege, and white. And while black is still a neutral in that it goes with pretty much everything, it is more intense and therefore more dynamic than the other neutrals. As to whether it is a fad or a classic, that depends on where and how it is used.
I love using black in décor, and I firmly believe every room could use a touch of black, but the first reaction I usually get from clients when I suggest that is WHAAAT? Before I lose you entirely, hear me out. Black is many things, and some people associate it with this:
…which is all fine and well, but not really what you want in your décor…unless maybe you are my nephew.
What I AM talking about is that black in décor that has the same power as the little black dress has in fashion. It’s foundational and can add instant sophistication or drama or both to any space. Whether you cover the room head to toe in black or use just a touch depends on the look you are aiming to achieve. Black is a secret weapon. Painting a piece of unremarkable furniture black can transform it into something significant. Painting a whole room black can add glamour or warmth. And using black to balance and accent lighter tones adds energy and interest.
Black as the Main Color
Used on walls in paint or wallpaper black adds elegance like in this city dining space by the very talented Celerie Kemble featuring black painted walls and millwork.
Black painted walls and millwork bring a warmth and coziness to these library spaces.
Black as an Accent
A mix of black and white is the ultimate in high contrast. Therefore, it is highly energetic and living proof that ‘opposites attract’ is true for more than magnets and unlikely couples.
Some black wallpapers to consider. Click on image to see more information.
Or, add dramatic flair as in this space with graphic high contrast pattern on the floor. Black and white checkerboard flooring will ALWAYS be a classic!
Black in an area rug can ground a space by adding needed visual weight. As an accent on furnishings, it can add sophistication. Choosing lighting, drapery, door or cabinet hardware in a black metal will play well with any other metal finishes.
A touch of black has the power to keep an otherwise pastel room from being too sickly sweet, or inject a pale neutral room with energy. Black is, after all, a neutral. It’s just a more dramatic and saturated neutral than the grieges and grays we have been inundated with for the last decade. And there is nothing at all wrong with grieges and grays. As I’ve said many times before, there’s nothing wrong with ANY color as long as it is used in the right place.
Just to clarify, by a touch of black, I mean in the décor - your dirty socks, stray shoes, and treadmill do NOT count as accent pieces except in the most extreme of circumstances.
I often advocate for painting bannisters and newel posts black for the sculptural quality and understated elegance it adds to a staircase. There are so many perfect things about this foyer below by Carrier and Company, but the touch of glossy black is my favorite element.
Interior doors can be elevated with black paint as well. Mark D Sikes seems to agree - below is the foyer in his house with the interior entry door painted black…this image was published in House Beautiful back in 2012, and is still as fresh today.
A word of caution about black plumbing fixtures – while a Darth Vader-esque toilet might be just what your bathroom design needs, it is a riskier investment to spring for a trendy black tub or shower if you are hoping to have a classic design that will last for the next 30 years – these are generally expensive and messy to change. You might, instead, add black in a classic floor tile or as an accent in a mosaic tile pattern or in one of the new black framed shower doors.
The new matte black faucets may have more longevity because they are, as we’ve said, a neutral and a metal that plays well with others, but my crystal ball is a little fuzzy on whether they will make it solidly into the new classics category. In any case, faucets, toilets, and shower doors are all less disruptive to change should the need arise. If you are wondering about where to go trendy and where to exercise caution, check out THIS recent post.
Click on the images of faucets and lighting for more information.