Painting rooms black has become a lot more common than it used to be. And a black room can feel very cozy and warm and dramatic. But it can also end up feeling like a dark, uninviting cave.
I have to admit that I have a bit of an obsession with painting things black…so with all that experience, I have come up with some tips for decorating a black room that will help avoid “the cave”.
I have just finished decorating my home office / library with black paint, and I love it!
All of the doors and trim in the hallway leading up to the den are black. (If you want to learn how to create the “Chinoiserie” wall art, click here).
And I also painted my kitchen cabinets black. (Stay tuned for my upcoming kitchen makeover post to get more information about that).
I think my friends and family were a little concerned when I started on this black phase…I get a lot of “Aren’t you afraid it will be too dark?” questions. And a lot of people saying “I love the look but I would be too scared to try it in my own house”. So if you’re someone who would like to paint a room black, but hasn’t had the nerve to try it, hopefully this will help make it a little less scary 🙂
Keep reading to see my tips for decorating a black room.
Pick the Right Shade of Black
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Despite what you might think, there are actually many different “colors” of black. It all comes down to the undertone of the paint…you can have a blue black, a purple black, a green black, a brown black…you get the picture.
To make sure you get the right black tone, you really need to decide what else you are going to put in the room with it. Then buy a black paint with the same undertone as the other colors in the room. Hint: You can usually tell the undertone by looking at the lighter colors that are on the same paint card as the black you are thinking of.
Want some help deciding on the right color? Find out how to choose the perfect paint color.
As you can see from this picture, you will be able to notice the difference if you end up with 2 different blacks in the room…and chances are, it won’t look quite right. In this case, the brown-black from my stairway makeover was accidentally used to touch up the blue-black paint that is in my hallway. You can certainly tell the difference when they are right beside each other!
You Might Also Like: Ways To Decorate With Black Bedroom Walls
That does bring up one more thing that I’ve learned about black paint…it is very noticeable when you get little dings in the paint! So you might want to keep a small container of touch up paint and a paint brush close by for quick repair jobs.
Use Pops of Color
Adding some color to the room can help the whole room feel cozy. The leopard print cushions and bright sofas really draw you into this library.
The red sofas in this media room look so comfortable that they immediately make the room feel inviting…even though the rest of the room would be pretty cavernous without them (although in this case, the flat black paint and lack of light are intentional to enhance the movie viewing experience).
Use Gloss Paint
The color black, by definition, is an absence of color caused by the fact that it does not reflect any wavelength of light, so your eye cannot see any color associated with it. That absence of reflected light can make a room seem very dark and cavernous (like a black hole). This is where gloss paint comes to the rescue…the shiny finish will bounce some light back into the room, helping to add some life to the room.
This bathroom is actually painted in black lacquer to really add some shine!
My kitchen cabinets painted in semi-gloss black paint reflect enough light that the kitchen doesn’t look dark at all.
Be warned though…gloss paint is a bit more work to paint over if you ever want to repaint the room. You usually have to sand it first to take the smooth finish off if you want the new paint to stick.
Break Up The Black
Breaking up a large expanse of wall with some panel moulding or chair rail or even book cases is a good way to prevent the room from feeling like a cave. You can paint the panel moulding a different color as was done in this dining room.
Or you can paint or wallpaper the inside of the panels like I did in my den. Adding bookshelves full of books also makes the room feel lived in.
Texture is always my go-to decorating vice when I want to add warmth to a room. And black rooms can be perceived as cold…adding texture will help prevent that.
This room uses black velvet curtains and cushions to add some warmth against the shiny black and silver wallpaper. Using tufted leather sofas helps to break up the smooth leather surface, which also adds a more cozy feeling to the room.
In my den, I also used textured fabric. The velvet sofa, chenille cushions and cut velvet window treatments help to warm up the room.
Add Metallic Accents
Adding metallic accents (especially warm-toned metals such as gold, brass and copper) will help to brighten up the room. They look great with black, and also provide some more reflective surfaces, to get that light bouncing around.
Add Dramatic Lighting
The right light fixtures in the room will help to play up the drama that the room already has while providing some much-needed light. At least one chandelier or light fixture with crystals will create light patterns that show up really well on the black walls.
You may also need more lamps than you might normally put in a room to keep the corners from becoming too shadowy. Large windows also help to keep a black room from being too overwhelming.
The semi-flush mount chandelier in my home office definitely adds some glam to this black room. The extra fixture in the corner helps light up the corner and highlight my favorite accessory.
Making a black room feel comfortable is all about adding warmth, reflecting light and creating some glamour…it’s not as scary as it seems. And hopefully, with these pointers, you’re feeling a little braver about giving it a try!