How to Pull Off Painting Your Living Room Black

published Oct 16, 2017
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Or as the actual (but too long) title to this post should read: How to Pull Off Painting Your Living Room Black and It Not Look Like an Angsty Goth ’80s Teen Is Gearing up for a Halloween Party While Their Parents Are Out of Town. I’m here today to let you know it is possible to rock super dark paint on the walls, ceilings, shelving, mantel, fireplace, etc. and not look like you went on Trading Spaces with The Addams Family. In fact, it can be done, and done beautifully, as this childhood-home-turned-inspiring-remodel proves.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Skip a “true” black color and pick a really, really dark almost-black gray paint color instead

Hear me out. I love a true black paint coated across large surfaces as much as the next girl. But one of the reasons why the “black” front parlor in this house is so great looking is the Behr’s “Cracked Pepper” color on the walls. It’s dark enough that it appears completely black when in shadow, but transforms into a creamy, deep, rich hue when splashed with natural light.

The dark-gray-almost-black-but-not-quite-all-the-way-black allows the sunlight to dance off of the small textural details in the room — from the brick of the fireplace surround to the wood slats of the built-in storage to even the ceiling molding. There’s an unmistakable softness of this space that I don’t think is always present in jet-black rooms. There’s a depth here that is provided by the choice of a shade that’s just a smidge lighter than black black.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Add in wood tones + green plants to warm it up

You don’t want your living room to feel like a black hole. Or an empty void. Or just some weird, artificial environment for robots. So make sure that you add in plenty of wood tones and textures, and that your plant game is on point, too. In Timothy’s parlor, not painting every single flat surface — and leaving the lovely wood floor its natural, glow-y surface — elevates the space immediately. Then, mixing in elements like an artfully styled stack of chopped wood logs and leafy, verdant green plants connects the dark and dramatic space to nature, grounding the look.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Go with the dark flow

Another way this room is so successful is that it doesn’t force a visual contrast within the confines of the room’s walls. The parlor is a cohesive dark nook that itself contrasts with the rest of the lighter, brighter house’s rooms. So you don’t see a light-colored couch contrasting dynamically with the dark walls. Instead, a plush dark blue velvet sofa cozies up to the dark walls. Dark lounge chairs wave hello seductively from across the seating arrangement. And moody paintings crown the focal wall, tying it all together.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

And know where to go light

While I meant it when I said not contrasting wildly between the furniture and the dark walls is the right choice; it was smart to include some lighter colored surfaces. The light gray coffee table top isn’t as harsh as a pure white, but helps bounces some natural light around. A barely-there blush pink coats a tabletop vase. A patterned rug runs the gamut from light gray to darker hues, marrying the entire room’s color spectrum.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

See the rest of this beautiful home → An Inherited Childhood Home Gets a Modern Makeover