Interior Design

The Do's (and Don'ts) of Decorating with Black

June  7, 2016

In fashion, the color black has come to represent a conscious lifestyle and cultivated mindset (not to mention the foundation of any good minimalist’s wardrobe). However, translating this way of life from your closet to your home can be tricky: If too much of an interior is black, it can make a space read as harsh and imposing.

But when added in the correct dosage throughout the home, a little bit of inky darkness can create a beautiful balance of modern polish and intrigue. Here are six ways to pull off the look (without going overboard).

Photo by Mark Weinberg

1. Incorporate Cast Iron Cookware

When adding the color black to your kitchen, keep it to your cookware and far away from your food (burnt baked goods aren’t a design tool I recommend). You don't even need paint—just invest in a sturdy set of cast iron pots and pans that will not only hold up against years of heavy use, but will also look lovely stacked as a simple countertop or open shelf display.

2. Hang Up Your Favorite Black & White Prints

One of my favorite ways to make a space more personal is by hanging my favorite photos on the wall. Sometimes colorful prints and paintings can overwhelm a room meant for relaxing—whereas black and white photos can add a sense of character without taking over. (I also like framing simple line sketches from my favorite artists for a more inspiring setting.)

3. Try a Blackened Iron Coffee Table or Stand

When you’re going for a more industrial look, it’s a good idea to keep your lines clean and materials bold. Try incorporating a coffee table in black iron to ground your living room and create a focal point. If this seems a bit too harsh for your taste, you can soften the piece with a natural sheepskin rug underneath—or go for a version with iron legs and a light oak top for a more organic take on the look.

4. Add a Dose of Drama with Black Paint

The key to painting your walls black is to reserve the look for the smaller spaces in your home. While black bedrooms seem to be popping up left and right, there’s something about waking up to light, bright surroundings that really sets the mood for your day. Instead of committing to a main room in the house, test out black paint in a powder room or winding up a narrow staircase.

Black walls envelope you in a very dramatic way, so be mindful of where you’d like to make that statement.

Casual interior. #interiordesign #bathroom #design #ironfurniture #tile

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5. Keep Patterns Simple

Though I do love a good antique floral in black and white, there’s something about a black woven linen throw that gets me every time.

When incorporating black pillows and other home textiles, it’s best to use them as an accent and leave the base lighter. Opt for a black ikat against a soft grey background or a classic black gingham on cream.

6. Don’t Forget Entertaining

Black marble and leather are two of the most luxurious materials out there. Instead of going over-the-top with floor to ceiling furniture, I like to add these materials in small doses to keep my space cozy (and my wallet happy). A set of geometric coasters in black leather or marble will elevate your counter or coffee table while still giving guests a feeling of ease.

Black walls: Yay or nay? Tell us if you'd dare in the comments.

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Jessica is a Los Angeles based designer and art director whose work aims to balance subtlety, grace, and quiet sophistication. She founded her design studio in 2012, which specializes in refined visuals for emerging lifestyle brands. Building off of her formal interior design training, Jessica imparts her eye for detail and appreciation for simplicity into all facets of her work, including The Elysian Edit, which she launched in 2016 as a way of showcasing the people, places and practices she finds inspiring.