This Is the Surprising “It” Color of Small/Cool NYC

published May 2, 2022
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black and white room with futuristic furniture and decor, tic tac toe spay paint on wall
Credit: Rikki Snyder

If you follow Pantone’s Color of the Year predictions, then you’d probably assume shades of periwinkle would be all the rage for 2022. But the featured designers in Small/Cool NYC are trend setters — not followers — and a different, somewhat surprising hue has emerged as the “it” color: black!

It’s not just any black though; this year’s rooms have been all about a rich, almost charcoal-colored, nuanced black. Each of the designers utilizing variations of this shade have gone in different directions. This versatility might be exactly why black is dominating so many trend vignettes this year. 

Credit: Rikki Snyder

First and foremost, off-black can be a great decorative foil for pops of bold color. Take designer Jessica Davis’ use of BEHR Paint’s Broadway (PPU18-20), for example, in her “Memphis-Deco” living room. She painted her side walls, built-in IKEA cabinetry and Semihandmade doors, and asymmetrical open shelving unit with this grounding shade, and it provides the perfect counterbalance to her Chasing Paper Cleo striped wallpaper.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

The same goes for designer Jenna Pilant’s “Walls That Wow” dining room, created in partnership with BEHR® Paint. The thicker bands and cubes of BEHR Paint’s Black (as well as Ultra Pure White) help to offset the other nine rainbow shades she used to create the colorful walls and cube focal wall in her space. She kept her dining table black and woven rug shades of gray for the same reason.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Forget what you’ve heard about dark shades making spaces seem smaller, too. Black linear Chasing Paper wallpaper created an enveloping backdrop in Carmeon Hamilton’s “Boho Beauty” bedroom. Because her wallpaper’s print is so vertical — and the linens and other accessories were so light and airy in contrast — the room doesn’t appear any smaller for the dark walls, throw blankets, or Safavieh nightstands from Bed Bath & Beyond, for that matter either.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Black can also play a supporting role as a crisp accent color. That’s exactly how designer Peti Lau used the shade in her “A Curator’s Eye” dining room. Her lighting fixtures, artwork frames, and tabletop candleholders are all an iron-like black shade, which together provide a nice contrast to the warm toned yellow patterned wallpaper and copper wall trim used throughout the space.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Finally, speaking of contrast, designer Miles Willis McDermott used black as one of his hero colors in his trippy, tonal “Wanderlust Fulfilled” lounge space. This is proof that you can still create a layered, super-visually stimulating space with a very limited palette — and that black-and-white, for that matter, is a classic color combination that can still read as very modern, depending on the items that you choose.

So if you want to go big with black — with this shade prominent on your walls, underfoot, and in your furniture — or you just want hits of this hue to punctuate an otherwise colorful or neutral design scheme, this versatile shade is poised to continue to make it big in 2022.

Small/Cool NYC is a shoppable, in real life and digital home design showcase full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Visit us from April 22 to May 15, 2022, on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET at 515 Broadway in Soho, New York City. Check out our event schedule and the whole virtual experience online at and follow along on Instagram @apartmenttherapy. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Toyota Corolla Cross, Ashley, Yogi® Tea, and Chasing Paper for making this experience possible.