Perhaps it had to happen. Coming full circle, could it be that black is finally the New Black? It's always been a critical design element, one that evokes drama and depth, adding contrast and transition. Black can delineate and define the lightest of colour schemes and, on its own, has always made a strong statement.
Perhaps it's this outspoken nature that keeps some people from flirting with this design Prince of Darkness. Too much black can feel heavy and overbearing, just as an abundance of white has weaknesses of its own, creating a washed-out effect.
Incorporating black into your design scheme, though, is often essential with the need for judicious subtlety. Let's learn more about this powerful style element and how best to apply it practically to home design.
The “feel” of black
Look no further than the iconic Little Black Dress to summon the sophistication and elegance of the colour. Black is serious; a black-tie affair has gravitas. A key element of chiaroscuro, black is by definition the absence of light. It can feel grounding, a basis upon which to be built.
There are negative associations too. It's the colour of mourning, death and sinister darkness. Too much black is formidable, unapproachable and sad. Just as the black of night is cheered by the sparkle of stars and glow of the moon, so too must we recognize the need for contrasting elements. On its own, black is daunting.
Black as a design component
Because of its drama, contrast and weight, black slips easily into many classic design styles. Modern styles that work well with minimalist approaches often suit monochromatic colour schemes, of which black-and-white is the most elemental.
Despite its suitability in that context, there's nothing exclusively minimalist about black. Black and white tile floors, from grand Victorian foyers to Art Deco bathrooms, find a place in plenty of design schemes. Contemporary, Streamline Moderne, and Mid-Century Modern could all scoop these ideas up.
Very few design styles don't benefit from the contrast that black adds, even if it's merely a black frame on a mirror or piece of art. The idea of layering perhaps evokes overhanging drapery panels for many, but you don't need to go full-on Bohemian to add layers to your home. In a room full of bright colours and natural light, adding subtle touches of black adds a chromatic layer, against which the light elements shine even stronger.
When a bolder statement is needed, forget subtlety and add a black leather sofa or overstuffed armchair. In an industrial loft space, painting exposed ductwork or mechanicals flat black is a common way to de-emphasize the often busy appearance of these elements.
Don't forget your home's exterior either. Choosing a light colour for the bulk of the house is often well-accented when the trim contrasts, and black is an excellent choice. Windows, door frames, eaves and downspouts can sharply define the shape of your home while bringing the other influences that black offers.
The power and versatility of black is going to creep into your home anyway, perhaps around the edges of your flat screen or as part of an upholstery pattern. Make yourself aware of its powerful effect and you'll find ways to add richness and depth to your interior spaces.
- alternate your black and light elements;
- use black as an accent;
- use metal accents and finishes to contrast black focal points;
- contrast white walls with a black ceiling, trim, door or floor;
- accent white paint with black frames and fixtures.
- use more than one shade of black;
- over-repeat or stack black elements (avoid black on black);
- combine black with other dark shades, like navy blue or indigo;
- combine black walls with black ceilings or floors.
Whether you're using black furniture or accessories to accentuate white walls, or creating a deep layered effect with black walls punctuated by light picture frames, wall hangings and furniture, you're sure to enjoy injecting this sophisticated shade into your home décor.