Black is the New Black
Title Image via First Dib
A few years after my husband and I purchased our first home, we finally saved up enough money to update the builder's grade kitchen, which was looking a little worse for wear: chipped laminate counter tops, crooked cabinet doors and a very 1980's faux oak trim on just about every surface's edge. It had to go! I spent weeks, if not months, browsing kitchen showrooms, websites, blogs and books. I ruled out stainless kitchens (too cold) and overtly detailed wood kitchens (too fussy). I just wanted something simple, modern and fun that was me. I'm not sure whoever decided that the go-to color for most other kitchens should be pristine white, but that was all I was seeing.... and it scared me. Did I mention that I am not the word's best housekeeper? I had almost lost hope when I turned one more corner in a showroom and there it was: an all-black high-gloss kitchen. I stopped dead in my tracks and gave my husband the this-is-it look. To this day I'm not sure if he he really loved it, or was just sick of spending every Saturday afternoon looking at kitchens. I can tell you that ten years later, my little galley kitchen is still the gleaming black jewel box we bought that day: offset by bright yellow walls, vintage light fixtures and a butcher block counter top, it makes me so happy to walk in and make my first cup of tea every single morning. The moral of this story: every house needs a touch – or in my case an entire kitchen – of black.
Now, I know what many of you must be thinking: nobody wants their home to resemble a goth teen's bedroom or worse, a funeral parlor. Think of black as a decorating tool, rather than an overall look. A black accent wall is a great way to offset a bright color – in this case hot pink – and to make a well-edited assortment of decorative objects “pop”.
A softer pink room is taken out of the realm of girly baby colors by adding black “outlines” to the space : black picture frames, a black staircase, black light fixtures and hardware. Think of black as the punctuation in an otherwise light and delicate decor.
Not all black colors are alike. Vincent van Gogh once admired the Dutch painter Frans Hals for using 27 shades of black in one single painting. Look closely and you will find most are not true blacks but have overtones of blue, green, charcoal, brown.... Mixing and matching different hues will add dimension and depth to your décor. Adding texture through the use of architectural molding and paneling as well as quilted fabrics and distressed surfaces is another way to liven up your black room.
A high gloss finish will make your black anything but drab. The black molding and door frame outlines this entire hallway, and the black-and-white stripes of the runner add an extra graphic “pop”. The subtle but perfect finishing touch in this space is the black shade on the wall sconce.
Painting a ceiling black is a bold move. It will highlight the room's architecture – molding, fireplace, tilework – and hide any unsightly ductwork. Contrary to what you would think, it will make your room look taller as well: when you can’t see the boundaries of a room, it appears bigger. This is especially true if you paint the top edges of the walls black as well.
Florals on a black or dark ground make for a great design statement: romantic yet strong, pretty yet bold. And they are remarkably easy to mix and match with other patterns such as African prints, and Indian paisleys and embroideries.
The hottest new color to combine with black? Peacock blue! Add touches of metallic gold or bronze for a bit of sparkle and glamour.
Yves Saint Laurent once famously declared “I love black because it affirms, designs and styles. A woman in a black dress is a pencil stroke." I think the same could be said for the use of black in decorating. So go forth and explore this multi-faceted hue, Enjoy!