Black is a color of contradiction. It’s vast, yet intimate; restrained but cozy. In his book, Black: The History of a Color author Michel Pastoureau writes, “Black – favorite color of priests and penitents, artists and ascetics, fashion designers and fascists — has always stood for powerfully opposed ideas: authority and humility, sin and holiness, rebellion and conformity, wealth and poverty, good and bad.”
No other color creates more drama than black. While not typically appealing to the timid, black shouldn’t be a daunting interior color. Being neutral, any secondary palette easily coordinates with black. A little goes a long way, so incorporating it into a scheme doesn’t necessarily mean covering every surface in inky darkness. Black also blends effortlessly into traditional and contemporary spaces, and anything in between.
As a color, black grounds a space, lending a sense of solidity and heft. Particularly when used in combination with lighter colors, the contrast of a black feature wall enhances the architectural forms surrounding it.
For example, the substantial black wall dividing William Roy Kitchen Design‘s space and the angled black feature wall in Urrutia Design‘s kitchen below would have faded into oblivion had the walls been painted white. The key architectural forms in both would have become lost. Black walls here serve as visual anchors.
Likewise, without the contrast of black on white, the ceiling details of this striking yoga room designed by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design would have been adrift in a sea of white. Helgerson’s use of black on the ceiling structure capitalizes on highlighting the room’s strongest asset.
Dark colors do tend to make spaces appear smaller than they actually are, and that’s perfectly OK. Design in the recent past has placed a (blind) priority on finishing spaces in white to make them appear larger and to “open them up”. It’s not always appropriate, or desired. A dark, cozy library, bedroom, or bath sounds rather appealing.
If black walls, floors or ceilings are too much commitment, consider painting cabinetry or wood trim a dark shade. Particularly in older homes with beefier woodwork, it enhances the linear qualities of a space without being overpowering. Tim Cuppett Architects‘ renovation of a historic farmhouse and a library to house transformation by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design are perfect examples.
Bold, understated, and elegant, black is a timeless color that adds a sense of presence, security and intimacy to a space. True to its contrasting nature, it makes one feel warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Although true blacks do exist, most black paint incorporates another hue, such as blue, green, brown, or grey to add softness and interest. Consider a color change? Get back in black.