A touch of black

Interior design loves a black accent. Think of it like your favourite pair of black boots or a little black jacket. It goes with everything, brings out the brightness in colours and makes an outfit pop. Case in point:

All images via Pinterest: Image 1 / Image 2 / Image 3

Black is a colour that many are afraid to use in interiors. Common concerns are that it’ll be dark, heavy, harsh. All myths my dear friends! A little (or a lot of) black can elevate your interior design and enhance a look like you never imagined. No matter what your style, a little splash of the darkest hue is exactly what you need to complete the look. Not convinced? Hear me out…

Featured image: Aver white extending dining table and Eames style dining chairs from Danetti

All white minimalist schemes

This is the last place you might expect me to recommend black but honestly, it does work. In light and airy all-white schemes, a little black will make the whites bright and fresh. I sound like a laundry advert! Without it, even with varying textures and shades of white, it can all look a little lost. Adding a contrasting element gives it dimension.

Try to imagine these images without the black element – they would all look a bit blah. Do you agree? Clockwise from left: The French Bedroom Co featuring the Plumage white feather table lamp, £395.00; bedroom by Duck and Shed via Houzz featuring Serge Mouille 1 arm wall lamps; ALSO Home Ltd featuring white linen tablecloth and napkins, tablecloth £59.00, napkins £20.00 for set of 4; Sweetpea & Willow featuring classic white kingsize panelled bed, £1,194.00.

Because monochrome is always cool
Monochrome Toddler Room
Monochrome toddler’s room by Young Folk via Houzz

You just can’t beat this look. It’s a timeless classic that just oozes cool whether it’s a whole room or just accessories. There’s nothing quite like black and white.

Clockwise from top left: Extreme matt black and white tiles from Tile Mountain; black and white stripe vase by House Doctor, £8.95 from rigby & mac; Ferm Living Geometry cushions from Cloudberry Living, £29.00-£47.50; teepee with black and white stripes by Elen Living on DaWanda.com, £80.50; black and white enamel pot, £4.95-£7.95 from rigby & mac

{As a side note, little tents seem to keep appearing in my blog posts. Can someone please just take the hint and buy me one? Thank you.}

It’s the perfect backdrop

The colour black makes an ideal backdrop to display your favourite pieces, whether it’s a dark piece of furniture, within shelving, or a whole wall. Light colours, plants, metallics and the naked flame of a candle all come to life.

Clockwise from top left: Leff Amsterdam tube wood clock in black ash/copper, £209.00; Bloomingville black dip milk jug (matching items available) from Quince Living, £18.00; Emilie crisp white French bed linen from The French Bedroom Co, £40.00-£115.00; Simply black and white candles from Buckley & Philips Aromatics, Australia

It gives life to other colours

Rather than dull it down, a black accent will actually enhance colour more than white or any other colour could. Pastels look sweeter, brights look more vibrant and it brings out the colour in muted shades.

Top row from left to right: the black Hugo wall light from Original BTC brings out the warmth in the wall colour; the contrast of the black stripe napkins intensifies the pinks in this image from Ian Mankin and helps to distinguish the various shades; this black lamp looks striking against Farrow & Ball’s Yukutori BP 4301 wallpaper, adding contrast and depth to the look; the black trim brings out the blue on the Ian Mankin Devon Stripe tablecloth, and the black table and doors provide definition so that the room doesn’t look washed out.
Bottom row from left to right: the darkness of the grand piano and picture frame emphasises the pink tones in Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground®; the vibrant colours of Branksome China‘s breakfast cups and saucers pop even more against the contrasting jet black of the outer finish.

It creates a fabulous gallery wall
Traditional Residence
Image from Slater Interiors LLC via Houzz
Botanical art wall, black & white screen print – £59.00 from Furnish.co.uk

While everyone else might be putting their pictures up on bare white walls, give them a little house envy by painting your gallery wall black. Art, photos and prints look incredible against a dark background and it’ll make your home look very expensive! In fact, you’ll notice that the majority of museums and art galleries (apart from the very contemporary ones) display their pieces on walls of deep, dark colours. The National Gallery and the Wallace Collection have no white walls and here’s what the Musée d’Orsay in Paris had to say on the matter:

White kills all painting apart from 20th century and contemporary art. When you put an Academic or an Impressionist painting against a white background, the radiance of the white, its indeterminate aura around the work prevents the sometimes very subtle contrasts of values from being revealed. In my view, white is the enemy of painting.

So that seems pretty conclusive.

Black floors look amazing

A black floor is unexpected, but stunning. On a practical note, I should warn you that it will show up dust, pet hair, dirt and footprints like you wouldn’t believe. Anyone with a dark kitchen worktop will vouch that, for some reason, black shows up everything. However, if you can get past that, a dark floor really does look amazing, especially when the walls and ceilings are light. Not only for the visual impact but also they add height to the room.

Left: Farrow & Ball floor paint creates a striking floor feature (in shades of Black Blue, All White, Arsenic and Pelt
Top right: Jaspe black floor tile from Tile Mountain
Bottom right: a black floor gives this shower room a greater sense of height, featuring a Merlyn Arysto offset quadrant shower

Go all the way and embrace the darkness
Hallway in Farrow & Ball Railings No. 31 Estate Emulsion

You may remember my previous post on dark wall colours where I discussed painting a whole room a dark colour.

If you have a room or space where there is very little light then do not paint it white in an attempt to make it lighter. Whoever told you to do that is giving you bad advice and I suggest you cut them out of your life immediately. You cannot create light from paint, the only way to make a space lighter is to introduce light. White and light colours work best when there is already a lot of light as it makes it even brighter. If there is very little light, in particular, natural light, a white paint will always look a bit dull and dingy. You need to tackle the lighting situation first.

In a dark space, I always say just roll with it. A dark colour looks so dramatic and works fantastically well in corridors and hallways. With the lighting addressed, a dark or deep shade accentuates the difference between light and shade thus giving your room more dimension and allowing your lighting to have a greater effect.

Highlighting a feature

The colour black is inherently striking which means it can be used to great effect by drawing your attention to the features of a room that you want to highlight. Painting your woodwork black is a technique that I’m very fond of. I think it looks incredibly chic and is the perfect way to accentuate beautiful doors, windows, skirting boards and architraves. Here’s an example in a monochrome bathroom designed by yours truly:

What are your thoughts on the colour black in interior design? Do you generally steer clear of anything too dark or are you the type to delve head first into the gloom? I’d love to hear about it, or better yet, show me!

J x

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