Designer Secrets to Decorating With Black

If you have ever considered using black in your own home, but were unsure how to do so effectively, here are the designer secrets to properly using the dark and glamorous hue in your space.
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November 25, 2014

A Dining Room Decked Out in Black

The dining room of this Sherman Oaks, Calif., home is decorated almost completely in black. From the dining room table, wallpaper, trim, chandelier, chairs and table settings, the dark color is layered to create the perfect balance.

Making Black Work Every Day

To achieve proper balance with black, many factors come into play including use of metallics, layering of different shades, use of reflective finishes and proper lighting. Once balanced, a black room can take on a timeless, elegant and edgy personality.

Varying Shades

While using the same exact finish of black throughout a space can be modern, sexy and sleek, it can also fall flat and appear cold. One way to warm up black is to make it tactile by layering different shades of black and by incorporating different textures.

Glossy Finish

Since black absorbs light, many homeowners hesitate to use it for fear of instantly making a room too dark. Yet a glossy finish on materials painted black instantly infuses a reflective quality that plays with light.

Chrome Accents

The inclusion of metallics can play a huge part in successfully designing with black. Whereas gold tones can evoke an overly rich, lush and traditional feeling, polished chrome is a great alternative for sleek, streamlined modern rooms.

Mismatched Materials

In this space all the dining chairs are black but vary in shape and materials. Each adds its own sense of visual interest, breaking up the overall black design. The same principle applies to room accessories.

Bringing In Life

Adding life to rooms is a designer's trick to ensure it feels lived-in and inviting. This trick is especially effective in black spaces. The green tones found in fresh-cut flowers or interior plants truly pop against the dark black backdrop.

Eye-Catching Chandelier

Since black absorbs light more than any other color, it's important to counterbalance black's darkness with proper lighting. Overscaled chandeliers or pendants that combine black with metal not only break up an overall black color scheme but play with light on reflective surfaces.

Black-Painted Glass

Glass surfaces in black spaces also offer the chance to play with light. Back-painted glass can be done in almost any color; however, sticking with black offers the chance to switch up the look over time by just changing out the hardware.

Easy Reflections

One of the most glamorous pairings in design is the use of black with mirrors. In addition to taking on a Hollywood-glam look, mirrors bounce light around an all-black space. In this dining room's case, the mirror centered over the buffet makes the room feel much larger, mimicking the window it reflects.

Patterned Wallpaper

When it comes to wall covering, whether black paint or black wallpaper, as in this dining room's case, always take into consideration the impact that molding will have in relation to the wall covering. While leaving molding white may shift the attention away from the intended all-black look; painting it an accent color with too strong of a contrast can be too jarring. For proper balance, consider painting base molding, crown molding and casing either the same shade of black as the wallcovering or a shade or two lighter.

Pulling In Natural Light

When decorating with black, always take into consideration the room's source of natural light. If there is ample sunlight for most of the day, and adjacent rooms are painted a lighter color, the light will essentially bounce off of the walls and into the black space. This is a huge help in keeping a black room from feeling overly dark.

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