For the Love of: Black Rooms

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for the love of: Black Rooms

Black rooms continue to dominate the design world these days !
Whether it’s black wallpaper, paint, lacquer, or a combination,
black rooms are everywhere !

What’s so great about them ?
Designers swear by black as a great neutral…against which any color, not to mention artwork, looks fantastic. Words that come to mind when you think of black rooms? How about “neutral”… “dramatic” … “glamorous” … “classic”… “chic” … “bold” … read on for designers’ praise for black walls !


This library by Jeffery Bilhuber is stunning…
the chair and ottoman really make the space!


There seem to be lots of black libraries in particular …


Black lacquer is the most fantastic, I think…the above space was created with

” 100 coats of custom lacquer.”


Carleton Varney recommends Benjamin Moore‘s
EBONY KING2132-20: ” There’s this thing called glamour that’s in short supply these days, but Dorothy Draper had it. When I first saw her office in the 1960s, it was done in black lacquer with white woodwork, a white desk, and black patent leather on the conference chairs. she had spotlights in each corner and when she presented fabrics, they really popped against all that black.”


Sherwin Williams‘ “IRON ORESW7069 and

TRICORN BLACKSW 6258 are also recommended colors.


Robert Brown recommends a gray-black with a hint of warmth,

Sherwin Williams‘ “SEALSKIN SW7675. “I painted a traditional paneled library in this dark charcoal gray, with a hint of brown and green. We mixed it as a marine enamel — typically used on boats — so it really shines when the light hits it and makes the room feel bigger. If you just did it in a nice flat finish it would be heavy, somber, too much for the space. But this is stimulating.”


Celerie Kemble‘s recent book
Black and White (and a bit in between):
Timeless Interiors, Dramatic Accents, and Stylish Collections
offers great inspiration for decorating with black.


Jay Jeffers recommends a deep charcoal, Benjamin Moore‘s

CHEATING HEART 1617. “If you had told me three years ago that I was going to be using gray in every project I’d have said, ‘No way.’ But the switch for me was realizing how versatile it could be. You can start with this soft, charcoal gray and then bring in any accent tone — apricot, chartreuse, yellow, blue. To me, that’s modern, because people change their minds about color all of the time.”

Above paint color is Benjamin Moore‘s “BLACK 2132-10


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this.
It’s a very good formula, which I’m not sure I should reveal — Benjamin Moore deck enamel brown mixed half – and – half with deck enamel black. The shine reflects the light, so it doesn’t seem like a dark room. Try it with white trim and a touch of pink.” – William Hodgins Benjamin Moore deck enamel


If you’re looking for a black with no blue, Home Depot‘s chalkboard paint is recommended as a flat, true – black with a nice matte finish
(whether you write on it or not!)


Eric Cohler likes Martha Stewart Living‘s” FRANCESCA ” (above) MSL279 :”If you get out of bed in the middle of the night, you don’t know where things begin and end. That’s what black does. It gives you a sense of infinity.
It’s the foil that allows art to float like sculpture.
And this black reads as brown or purple or blue or black,
depending on how the light hits it. It’s never static.”

Black is dramatic and daring. It has that forbidden quality, which is irresistible. I think of sexy black negligees and fast black cars. A room painted black is a place where you can tell secrets. The semigloss finish gives it an edge, like patent leather, and makes everything pop. You have to be very confident to use black, and that kind of confidence is very attractive.” -Nancy Boszhardt

If you’ve seen any of Jeff Lewis‘ shows on Bravo, you know he uses a lot of black. Lately it seems he won’t do a room without it or, at least, a dark, charcoal gray. Lewis seems to favor black trim, shelves, cabinets, etc. over black walls; he almost doesn’t do a non-dark trim. (At least he has Zoila to do his dusting!)

(By Jeff Lewis: above, office from ‘Interior Therapy’
below, House Beautiful’s 2010 Kitchen of the Year)


Betsy Brown recommends Pratt and Lambert‘s “WENDIGO33-18,
“This is really, really dark, almost black. It’s not a color that introduces anything — you’re barely aware of it at all, you just see what’s in the room.”


Another recommended charcoal gray is Martin Senour‘s “NEWSPRINT


Chad Eisner likes Pratt and Lambert‘s “DEEP CHARCOAL25-18:
“This is a soft black, inherently elegant with a bit of mystery as well,
and it will work with any palette in any room.”


There certainly is no lack of drama with black…and almost any color looks good against it (the brighter the better, which fits well with all of the neon brights of today) along with a dose of white. So, what are you waiting for?!

*NOTE: Unless specifically linked to a photo,

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