Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to use black paint, furniture and design accents in your home .
Black has a certain chicness that’s both bold and balanced. Coloring your home with the hue might seem intimidating, “but just as it’s known for being dramatic, stylish and sophisticated in fashion, it can provide a similar effect when used in home décor,” says Behr color expert Erika Woelfel. “Black creates a grounding effect and the perfect backdrop for splashes of color, white or other subdued neutrals,” Ms. Woelfel said.
“Black can work in any room—from a bathroom or kitchen to a main living space. It may seem like a dramatic change, but it is a classic neutral,” Ms. Woelfel says.
For advice on taking your home to the dark side, follow these tips from the pros.
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Strike the Right Balance
“Balanced design is all about creating layers of color and contrasting dark and light design elements. White and black is a classic, sleek palette. Try pairing a black sofa with Behr’s Polar Bear on the walls, accented with artwork that incorporates other dark hues and a patterned area rug.
“A deep gray like Carbon or the truer Totally Black can highlight details on paneled walls or cabinets, but make sure the flooring—hardwood, tile or an area rug—is light. In a living space, I recommend incorporating other dark, yet warmer tones such as a deep brown leather chair or a walnut-stained coffee table to create a cozy feeling.
“Black-and-white patterned tile is one of my all-time favorite design elements—it’s a modern touch but feels timeless. Dark-stained wood or slate black tile also works well in a kitchen or bathroom. Black can work on walls and looks especially good when a room has distinct architectural details, like crown molding or wainscoting. An ebony-painted fifth wall—the ceiling—can actually make a room feel more expansive.
“You can’t go wrong with a black-and-white geometric pattern. I’d stick to this palette for upholstery or rugs.
“If your larger furnishings are black, pepper in touches of dark throughout the room, but make sure to incorporate lighter, contrasting accessories. A modern gold bookshelf, a marble-topped side table or a white-tiled fireplace can help balance the look.”
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—Erika Woelfel, VP Color & Creative Services at Behr Paint
“If you are unsure where to start, try using accessories as a starting point, even if used minimally. There are some amazing pieces out there including black cut glass vases, black fan coral, or stunning crystals on black metalwork, which all add interest.
“If you know you are using a black material on your walls or on some furniture, use lighter colors elsewhere in the room to create an evenly balanced space. At the W1 London in Marylebone we used an off-black polished plaster on the main elevation of the lounge. However, elsewhere in the room we used a beautiful light silk wall covering set against dark wood veneers.
“Where walls are concerned, I always think materials like polished plaster look particularly effective in colors like black or off-black. Equally if you want a light scheme, then it’s nice to incorporate black in artwork.
— Sophie Paterson, interior designer at The W1 London in Marylebone London
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Accent Your Space
“Black creates a sense of drama and can be a very bold statement without being over the top. It’s a serious color but also very refined.
“I love a black finish on a furniture leg with dark fabric. Subtle uses of black in furniture finishes, side tables and accessories keep a space grounded and chic. Pair black finishes with a rich purple or deep blue and then balance it out next to a creamy white. The saturated colors will look refined while the white gives them a background to stand out against.
The key to using black in walls, rugs and flooring is layering textures—a black hide patchwork rug, Brazilian black slate tile in kitchens with white cabinets or a croc-embossed textured wallpaper, for example. The key is to give black texture so it doesn’t make your space feel flat and dark. I also love using black mirrors on bookcase backs or walls in a powder room. It still reflects light but keeps the drama.”
—U.S. and London-based designer Birgit Klein of Birgit Klein Interiors
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“One of my favorite ways to incorporate black is to contrast stark white walls with black painted trim and moldings. The contrast punctuates the space and defines the architectural details beautifully. For a dramatic look, I love saturating the entire space with black and letting the furnishings be the contrast.
“Using all black in even small spaces ends up blurring the lines so it’s difficult to perceive the size of a space. It’s a great little trick that seems counterintuitive but totally works.
“Black flooring is stunning but very tough to live with since it shows every imperfection. Black woven leather or hide rugs are much more forgiving and still provide a rich base to the room. I prefer for walls to be a high-gloss lacquer finish if they’re black, so light can bounce around the space and keep it from feeling too flat. Or, consider painting just the ceiling black and you’ll be surprised at how sophisticated your room becomes.”
—Donna Mondi, founder and principal, Donna Mondi Interior Design in Chicago