Friday, January 21, 2011

Black Walls: A Lasting Trend?


More than a decade ago, my cousin painted her small living room black. At the time, I was skeptical, but now it's perfectly clear that she was truly ahead of her time; indeed, in retrospect, those black walls with her black and white toile sofa was super chic).

In any case, black walls have been a growing trend in the design world for several years now and they don't appear to be going anywhere in 2011. I've been a bit slow in embracing this trend (despite my love of darker wall colors like plum, navy and peacock blue), but I can say now that I've fully come around. While I'm not sure how and if I'll work it into my home, I do enjoy coveting some of the amazing rooms that designers have created featuring black walls.

The large bedroom above is an absolute favorite of mine. What I find particularly striking is how light the room feels, despite the dark walls. A good tip for those looking to test out black walls but scared of making a room too dark: keep your ceiling, trim and your floors light. The accents of red in the room, inspired by the black grounded shell motif fabric used throughout the space keep the room from being too monochromatic. Much as I love black and white, I find a total lack of an accent color to be too hard to live with.

Windsor Smith

Black walls really highlight the detailed molding in this small office. The graphic effect is mimicked in the iron windows and wrought iron lantern. I particularly love how Windsor painted the ceiling in a glossy pale blue. It adds a touch of lightness to the space. Oh yeah, and how awesome is that flame stitch office chair?


Atlanta Decorator's Show House

Black is an obvious choice for a study, library or den, where a cozier, darker environment is a welcome respite from a day's worth of work and chores.


If you want the graphic punch but are a bit afraid of feeling closed in, try just painting one wall. I'm not generally a fan of an accent wall, but I do think it works well in a bedroom (of course, you have to put your bed against said accent wall to pull this office!). Of course, the white bed frame and side tables against the dark wall makes the most of both. Remember: it's all about contrast!
Ruthie Sommers (via domino)

Tight spaces can sometimes really benefit from the black wall treatment. It may seem counter intuitive but dark walls can really create a feeling of more space as they recede in the background -- and can highlight other great features like a fun turquoise door or high ceilings.

Sherrill Canet

This dining room is an all-time favorite of mine. The black background of this gorgeous wallpaper modernizes classic Chinoiserie and the silver ceiling generate some serious drama. The more casual dining table and chairs keeps the room from feeling too stuffy. To paraphrase Mary Poppins: it's practically perfect in every way.

Image from Marie Claire Maison

A black bathroom, like a black kitchen, is a fun deviation from the standard white -- and I'd argue it's just as classic. Of course a black clawfoot tub is just the icing on the cake. One thing I don't like about this room though: those floors. That shade of green reminds me of the green marble that was oh so popular in the '80s. Yuck.

Jenna Lyons - Domino

Somehow, I feel like the Jenna Lyons spread in domino a few years ago was a major catalyst for the black wall craze that's been raging ever since. I'll admit that the black cast iron tub paired with the brass fixtures and herringbone wood floor still leaves me breathless.

Image via Metropolitan Home


I can describe this room in 3 words: Drama, drama, drama. This image appeared on Metropolitan Home's last book Glamour: Making it Modern and I can tell you that it was just about the sole reason I picked up a copy (yes, I did judge a book by its cover!).

Anne Coyle

Black walls are a great backdrop for artwork. Like white walls, they let the art do most of the talking, but unlike white walls, you won't feel like you're sleeping in a sterile art gallery.


While I love a white kitchen, black cabinetry is definitely growing on me. Shubel did a nice job here of keeping the look monochromatic and graphic. The flatweave rug is very chic. I also like how he selected two different countertops. The black marble on the island creates a ton of drama, but the white marble on the cabinets behind tone things down and blend in seamlessly with the creamy walls.

Image via Canadian House and Home


Another black kitchen, this time from the 2010 Canadian House and Home designer show house. The mix of materials is great and I love the crisp white beadboard ceiling. The stone floor and kitchen table and chairs add a French bistro touch that nicely balances all that black and stainless steel.

Rob Southern (via House Beautiful)

Entryways and hallways are great opportunities to experiment with black walls without really having to live with it. These walls are actually covered in vinyl wallpaper, which I'd imagine would be more cost-effective and long-lasting than lacquered walls.

Image via House Beautiful


I like how this den feels less buttoned up than most black rooms. Instead of dramatic, it feels cozy -- but it's still sophisticated (as evidenced by that fabulous KWID fabric).

Steven Gambrel

This den feels at once incredibly masculine and incredibly dramatic. The liquid leather armchairs combined with the glossy black walls (and glossy marigold yellow ceiling!) are admittedly pretty over the top. And yet Gambrel manages to balance them with smart striped curtains and a softer, more beat up leather sofa and armchair.

So what do you think, are black walls a new classic or still just a passing trend?

23 comments:

Kathysue said...

I am not sure they have reached a classic level yet, but they are beyond a trend and on their way to a classic if done well. I love black walls and I am like you not sure How it would work in my home at all. In fact I did a post a while ago called Wish I was brave enough and black walls were key in that post.

http://goodlifeofdesign.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-wish-i-were-brave.html

I think black is very popular the post I do on black and white are usually the most looked at post. In fact I have a really short little post up today On, you guessed it Black and white.
I love all the images you shared here, great post, Kathysue

VictoriaArt said...

Its an interesting question. I am not sure it is a trend. But a persistent possibility. All these rooms look absolutely photogenic and sexy. But I am not sure if they hold up to real life. What I mean: They look great with all kind of illumination, but I guess I would feel a little swallowed up with just natural light or an overcast day...
Perhaps depending on location and light.
For me a no -no in a dining room. Maybe in a study or dressing room, but overall I am going for brighter colors.
Coincidently I posted on Todd Romano's new Manhattan studio, all done in dark blue lacquered walls! Amazing.
Among your sample pics I prefer Anne Coyle's bedroom and Stephen Gambrel's black/mustard room.
The bedroom you like works well, because the room is so incredibly large and the walls are balanced out with the large light ceiling, floor and bedding.
I just could not feel the same in small room.

Muffy said...

I love it! It's so dramatic & glamorous! It's probably difficult to pick the right color though...I bet a lot of the options would look dark grey.

Angela said...

I love it!
I painted a nursery dark grey last but repainted it in a lighter shade because most people thought it was too dark. I thought it was beautiful and should have stuck to my vision.

pretty pink tulips said...

The rooms above are all so well done, that they will be timeless. It's a trend that I adore!

Annie@A View On Design said...

wow - great pics. I don't think it is so much a trend, but I think very few people would use it in the way depicted in your photos, most people these days go white, because it's classy, common and makes a room brighter, lighter.

designchic said...

I know I could never be so brave, but I think it's so sophisticated!!

Tobe @ Two Tall Blondes said...

i LOOOOOVE the drama and warmth of dark walls. black, definitely. but also navy, deep grays, etc. especially if the room gets enough natural light, it really really makes them seem so much cozier. if it's a trend, i think that it's certainly one that will keep coming in and out of style.

have a great weekend, averill!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

I love the way it looks in person, but I think it would probably freak me out in person - I'm the kind of gal that needs LOTS of light or else I feel confined. It's beautiful in magazines, though, and I love the images you chose.

Ludmila @ creamylife said...

I still love it, I think it's timeless. happy weekend :)

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

You know, when I look at these images I think it looks fantastic, but in reality, I just couldn't see myself living in a room with black walls!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I've always loved black print wallpaper (in smaller spaces/bedrooms usually since I'm not a big wallpaper person). But glossy black walls? Not so much. As with any trend, the key is really liking it and not just the idea of it. Ideally, it would express your own style and stay relevant in your own home long after everyone has moved on to the next big thing. I feel that way about some of my own furniture and art. Not sure if design bloggers would love some of my own choices - but the fact that I still love my "not quite on trend" objets is the most important thing.

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

I haven't done it myself but I've always admired black walls especially with white trim & ceilings. Of course black & white, the stark difference is so classic that black walls may just be a lasting trend!

Hope all is well with u Averill!

Danielle said...

So dreamy...I love all of the images!!!

Christy said...

I think they're a passing trend. I think classics have to hold up in your average home, and I honestly don't think most homes could handle black walls. I know my house couldn't. They could, however, handle a fabulous black-based wallpaper, or a wallpaper with a predominantly black patter. Like, say, that fabulous doggie print that you featured a long time ago - I still dream of putting that on a wall in a kids room, or a laundry room, or something, one day!

And I'm with you - those 80s green marble floor tiles?! YUCK!

MyAllergyAssistant.com said...

I am not sure if I missed an email address, but do apologize if this isn't the best place to ask this question. I've been lurking on your blog for a year or so... love it! I am consiering starting my own design blog. I've been saving online images of things I like in a folder. However, I could not tell you where I got most of them. I have noticed that most bloggers are great at saying what designer or store things are from. Should I only use things that I am able to site the source on? Do you have a method for keeping track of this sort of information? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! (Feel free to email me at kristyrswain@gmail.com.) P.S. I'm also from Houston, though I now live in AZ...

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

They are beautiful and dramatic in the right room but they aren't the easiest to remove if you are the type of person who likes to change wall color frequently. I painted a black design on my powder room walls when we first built our home and six years later (this past fall) I decided I wanted a change. It took 6 coats of primer and several coats of paint to cover them.

I suppose I would suggest that unless black has always been a favorite, you might want to pass on this.

Kara said...

I don't know if it's a passing trend or not - but I love it. I loved my dark brown bedroom and got lots of positive comments from friends about it. So black doesn't seem so scary to me and all the photos you used show how beautiful a dark room can be.

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

Agreed that Jenna Lyons' black bedroom/bath are still just as amazing as the first time we all saw them!

Karena said...

Averill I think black can be so stunning and you have used some fabulous examples!!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Chris said...

hmmm im thinking of changing the color of my wall. This looks great. Thanks for sharing.
Seattle Real Estate

Jen of MadeByGirl said...

i think its a trend that will come & go...because COLOR will always pop in and rule over it every so often. BUT lately ive been thinking more & more about a black wall, whether with wallpaper or not...OR even painting my front door black on the inside. :))))))


www.madebygirl.com
madebygirl.blogspot.com

Bromeliad said...

I think i's classic. But it also takes some guts.

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