Back in Black

October 22, 2007

“Back in Black”
By Rachel Perls of Hue Consulting, decor8 guest writer

Fall is finally here; our palette has turned to deep, rich, autumnal colors. With the colder weather approaching, we move indoors, looking forward to making our spaces warm and cozy for the months ahead. Light, airy whites and pastels are tucked away in storage, and denser, muted tones become more prevalent, ushering in a feeling of weight, comfort and stability.

Back in Black Via Domino magazine.

Back in Black via Location Works

Black is a strong, dependable color that becomes quite prevalent in home decorating during this season. It has a sense of permanence, and solidity that is reassuring. How decadent and glamorous is this room shown above? Black represents sophistication and substance. The ultimate chic color for cocktail parties and black-tie affairs, it can morph into a completely different interpretation with a simple change of context.

Back in Black Via Surround

People react quite strongly to this hue, which is actually the absence of all pigment. It signifies mourning in many cultures, as well as danger, or the supernatural. It is ominous, the fear of the unknown. Black represents power, which can be reassuring, or scary, depending upon whom wields it.

Back in Black via Living Etc

Back in Black via Living Etc

One combo that packs a punch is black and yellow. In nature, black and yellow color patterns communicate to predators that an animal is dangerous, like stinging wasps or poisonous snakes. We?re biologically conditioned to pay special attention to this color duo.

Back in Black Via CB2

Another popular match is black and red. It has a strong Asian flair, and looks amazing in lacquered finishes.

Back in Black Via West Elm

Back in Black Via Domino magazine

A fresh, modern variation of the red and black theme substitutes fuchsia for the red, lightening the mood considerably.

Back in Black Via Domino magazine

Or experiment with orange and black, another stunning combination.

Back in Black Via Domino magazine

Have you considered pairing black with kelly green?

Back in Black Via Domino magazine

When paired with other bright colors, black works as a unifying element. How fun is this treatment? I feel like I just stepped into a pop art painting.

Back in Black Via Purple Design

Back in Black Via Robin Bell Interiors

Bathrooms are a great place to experiment with dramatic tones.

Back in Black Via House and Garden magazine

Trend-wise, I?ve read that dark cabinets for kitchens are very hip these days, Susan from the blog The Kitchen Designer, is a terrific source for trend watching in this area of the home. But be forewarned about those oh-so-popular black granite countertops. Ergonomically, they are horrible for your vision because there isn?t enough contrast between the work surface and your kitchen items; this causes eyestrain.

Back in Black Via HGTV

Just by tweaking the texture, surface, and tone of black, you can create vastly different moods. This shiny kitchen by Miles Redd is really over the top, but I thought it was so fun, I couldn?t resist.

Back in Black Here, a room by Nicole Sassaman has a soft matte black wall of chalkboard paint.

Back in Black Via Living Etc.

Back in Black
If you don?t know where to start, accent pieces and dark flooring are great places to begin introducing ebony into your spaces. (Remember the Nate Berkus NYC Aparment reveal on Oprah?) Black can look great with almost any color, especially if it is used with contrasting lighter colors. You absolutely need the contrast, so don?t go too overboard with this inky tone.

Any questions regarding black that you have? Please leave your question or comment below and I’ll gladly do what I can to answer!

(images linked accordingly above. some links via desire to inspire.)


  • Reply limonete October 22, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    so many cool styles.
    i love it.

  • Reply melinda October 22, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    We are renovating our new house and are planning to paint our cabinets black to save on some cash. We re also having granite installed, but it is not a solid color.

    Ironically I just posted about this subject yesterday on my blog. It has been really hard convincing some people that black is the way to go. I really love the look and hope to convert some of my family and friends. I think it is hard to visualize black cabinets without seeing a finished product. I can?t wait to see how they turn out!!!

  • Reply design for mankind. October 22, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    LOOOOVE this post. So helpful, informative and delightful! Congrats on being a top ten most fabulous blog— VERY well deserved!!! :)

  • Reply Terri October 22, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Holly, beautiful post. I am not a black fan but that kitchen is insanely gorgeous and slick. I feel like a bad girl just admiring it. :)
    Not sure about the zebra rug. I just wrote a post about those and I am on the fence. :)

    I was away and look forward to catching up with your posts.

  • Reply Jennifer Ramos October 23, 2007 at 2:10 am

    I love OVER THE TOP, so the Miles REDD kitchen is right up my alley….the studded doors, love it!

    -Jen Ramos

  • Reply Cher Ami October 23, 2007 at 5:50 am

    wow I love those bright walls

  • Reply susan October 23, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    This is such a well written and insightful and informational post on black! I have directed my readers to read about your thoughts on black.

    I guess the biggest question is, when/where is it a trend, and when isn’t it? I’m seeing black cabinetry now a lot. That’s a trend. I’m not as clear about using black in interiors, when one would call it a trend and when it isn’t!

  • Reply Whatever Dee-Dee wants October 23, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    I love the blue wall with the splash of red in the room.

  • Reply Maryam in Marrakesh October 24, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Yowza. Uber glam. esp loving the black branches and black bathroom!

  • Reply Rachel October 24, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    So glad you all enjoyed this post. As a consultant, I use black very sparingly, but sometimes, it’s just the best solution.

    Susan had a great comment: “when/where is it a trend, and when isn’t it?”
    Especially with black, since this is a hue that never goes out of fashion. I consider it a trend when you notice a huge influx of it in the marketplace and shelter magazines. for instance, wallpaper was really “out” for awhile, but has resurfaced full-force. i think it’s important to make design decisions based on what feels right for your particular space and personal taste, and avoid relying too much on what the marketplace advertises.

  • Reply Lynn October 25, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I liked some of the color combos used. However, being an asian (malay) reader I am a little tired of reading about “asian” decor and when I look at the picture it features chinese-japanese inspired ang-pow red and black furniture or rice paper lanterns. How about featuring stuff from India, Balinese inspired rooms (they’re GORGEOUS), Indonesian teak furniture maybe? They’re all part of Asia too.

  • Reply Amy Nieto October 26, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Having grown up in tropical Puerto Rico I just never, ever ever ever ever had any fascination with black. Not even in my clothing. EVER. And to this day, black still does not fascinate me, it does not move me, it does not inspire me. AT ALL. weird huh? And because of that geographic upbringing I still tend to decorate everything in Spring/Summer hues all throughout the year. I guess it’s my way of bringing a little bit of Puerto Rico during these cold North American months (it’s hard to accept that you can’t wear flip flops and tank tops during December :P )

    And to the lady above me, Yeah you are right. But I guess when we talk about a design that is inspired by Indian art, we call it “Indian inspired”. Or it’s “Middle Eastern inspired” (or Russian, so on and so on). If it’s the very East of Asian we sorta group it all together and call it “Asian”. I propose we change the term.

    But I’m too tired to think :P

  • Reply Anonymous October 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    As to black & kelly green. I love it. Check this out:

  • Reply Angela Sullivan September 22, 2008 at 7:45 am

    I may be a little late to the black trend my husband is welsh and it takes a while for him to catch up sometimes. We have chosen a walnut kitchen with high gloss black doors, oak floor and off-white quartz worktops. All appliances stainless steel with stainless face plates for light switches etc. (If it goes out of fashion in 5 years – change the doors!!). BUT what colour to do the walls and splash backs? I’m completely stuck on this – any pointers?

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