Black Walls = Instant Grown Up Home (Here’s How to Make Them Work)

published Aug 31, 2017
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

White walls seem to be a designer secret weapon: they open up rooms of all sizes (make small rooms seem larger, large rooms appear…even airier) and look incredibly crisp and cool; plus, it’s easy to match your room’s decor to the snowy hue (because, well, white goes with everything). You know what other color is just as easy to work with (even if you might not think so at first glance)? Hint: It’s the complete opposite of white.

Black may not be a color that you’d immediately jump to when picking out a paint shade, but we’d love to help you reconsider. We get that it seems much trickier to handle, but we promise it’s not. Check out these five rooms to see how easy it is to make it work.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Ensure there’s plenty of natural light

Sure, there are some people who love a moody grotto-like room, but if you’re looking for a space that still feels alive and friendly (and happens to have a black wall), be sure it gets plenty of natural light. If your living room or bedroom is lacking in windows, you may want to reconsider.

(Image credit: Liz Calka)

Employ a fairly monochromatic color scheme

This one is not a hard-and-fast rule by any means, but consider it your never-fail guideline for a crisp, modern space. Of course black-and-white is classic and elegant, but mixing in some other neutrals and natural materials really ups the welcoming factor.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Small space? Paint just one wall

If this is your first black-wall rodeo, don’t go for broke if you’re a little apprehensive. Painting just one wall brings in the drama without enveloping you in darkness, and is a particularly good trick for a small space. According to a post by our Senior Writer Nancy on this specific subject: “Dark colors read as receding from the viewer, so the accent wall visually enlarges the space (and sets up a nice contrast that can make the rest of the space seem brighter by comparison).”

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Work in high contrast

The key to making black walls work is to ensure a great majority of everything else in the room pops against it. This means lighter color furnishings, floors, moldings, accents and even art (though keeping things in a matching ebony shade is a great way to lessen the visual impact of an imposing piece). This way, you don’t end up with a deep, dark cave.

Use it as you would a brighter neutral to let your style shine

Love a collected look? Consider pairing your eclectic treasures and furnishings with a chalky graphite wall. Nothing stands out quite like it does against black, plus the velvety texture adds even more visual depth to an already interesting interior.