Decorating With Black In Any Style

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Decorating with black doesn’t confine you to the interior design scheme of angry teenagers, vampires, or the ultramodern. You don’t have to use black for your entire room, but by incorporating the color into your paint or accessories, you can add a pop of sophistication and give old items a polished new look.

Black can function as a neutral, mixing well with other neutral colors like brown, tan and gray. It can be bold and dramatic, taking center stage in your décor, or it can be used to tone down brights, adding a touch of calm instead of chaos. Even inexpensive or old items look richer in black, and it can cover up flaws while creating a sense of cohesion in a room.

Black Accents Work For Any Interior Design Style

If you want to use black in your color scheme, but don’t want to be overwhelmed, start with small accents.

  • For Tuscan designs, add black wrought iron accents, leather trim on furniture or knobs on cabinets.
  • Decorate a country home with black lanterns, metal pails or stars.
  • Complement your Asian home with black lamps, tables and statuary.
  • Add black to a Cape Cod home with black trim on the baseboards, a black throw blanket tossed over the couch, a black front door or shutters, or black frames for your wall art.
  • Even a shabby chic room can carry small touches of black with a painted stencil running along the top of the wall, painted and distressed baskets or a grouping of black animal figurines. Roughing up the black paint with sandpaper will tone down the color’s harshness, allowing it to blend better with this casual style.

Whatever your decorating theme, if you want to add black accents, some of the easiest choices are:

  • Picture frames
  • Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls
  • Throw pillows
  • Candles
  • Plant pots
  • Chair cushions
  • Area rugs

Decorating With Black Furniture

If you want to take the plunge into using black as your main decorating color, be aware that black tends to show dust easily, and you might find yourself reaching for the feather duster or furniture polish frequently to keep things looking good. Also, as with any color, there are many shades of black, and not all of them go together. Decide whether you want to stay with warm blacks or cool blacks to avoid unattractive clashes.

  • Generally, rooms with plenty of natural light do best with a black color scheme. This keeps the look from being dark and gloomy. If your room doesn’t receive much sun, consider adding an extra lamp or two, or install an overhead fixture or ceiling fan with lights.
  • Black furniture is the easiest way to make this color your decorating star, and starting with your couch, dining table and chairs or living room armoire will give you a lot of choices to match any decorating style.
  • A black leather couch can be contemporary, country or southwestern, depending on the style. Lacquered black furniture is beautiful in an Asian room, while aged, distressed black wood goes well in a Mediterranean or colonial theme.
  • A rugged, farmhouse table with black, chipped paint would look wonderful in a lodge or country kitchen, while an ornately carved, low-gloss dining set would play up a traditional or formal dining room.

Go All-Out With Black Walls

Trendy and bold, black walls are not for the timid. This look is definitely best in a room with a lot of natural light and architectural interest. Matte black walls are more subdued, while a glossy finish shouts out that you are edgy and modern. When decorating a room with black walls, touches of bright colors are great for adding contrast and cheer, but for a tranquil, sophisticated look, keep to a mostly neutral palette of browns, greys, soft greens and cream colors. To keep your furniture and accessories from disappearing against dark walls, look for white, cream or other light furniture, and keep the ceiling and the trim white. Colorful artwork will really pop against a black wall, but white frames around black and white photographs will still look striking.

Mixing Black With Other Colors

Black looks good with just about every other color, making it easy to work into your decorating scheme. The one caution is mixing a lot of black and orange, which will nearly always bring Halloween (or sports teams) to mind.

  • Black accents add style and sophistication to the mostly pastel scheme of a French provincial theme, keeping it from looking overly feminine or fussy.
  • Use black to tie the deep reds, greens and blues of lodge style together, and break up the potential monotony of too much dark wood.
  • It’s hard to beat the classic style of a black and white theme for a clean, sophisticated and versatile look.
  • Black can add interest to a room decorated in a neutral palette of grays, cream, browns and tan.
  • Create drama with black and brights for trendy modernism, or go more sophisticated with black against a backdrop of silver, white and glass.
  • Give a nice counterpoint to the blues and whites in a Cape Cod or seashore style with touches of black in your decorating accents. Try photo frames, stripes in upholstery or small statues of nautical items.

Whether you want small accents of black to set off your décor, or you want to make black the centerpiece of your style, the versatility of this deepest of colors makes it easy to mix and match with any decorating theme or palette. Adding at least a little bit of black to every room is a perfect way to tie your look together, and bring interest to your home.

Last Updated: August 21, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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