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BRIANA: Black walls have been black sheep in the design world, but they’re starting to make some inroads, as this quote from a recent Boston Globe Magazine piece proves: “Black is definitely a trend,” says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams in Dallas. “People think it will close the room in, but it has the opposite effect.” This trend was suggested by our own Marianne Canada and the room image comes to us from designer/opinionated Defend the Trend contributor Brian Patrick Flynn, so I think I know what they’ll say, but maybe y’all will surprise me. Are black (and other super-dark) walls gorgeous or too goth for your taste?

Do you like black walls? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog...

 LEANNE: Only cool if accented with black velvet paintings and vintage Jane’s Addiction album covers.

DAVID HAYNES: I was thinking that the key would be creative use of contrast (subtle) and lighting — halogen spots and pendants maybe — and carefully chosen art. Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking album cover in a large repro would certainly be on the money.  So would Sonic Youth’s Goo. (You’ll have to Google those yourself.) Or some stark b&w photography, nicely framed and generously matted. (No Herb Ritts, please.) A tough look to pull off, but if done right could be pretty darned sophisticated. I bet Bryan Ferry has a room with black walls.

ALYSSA SPARACINO: OOO. Not a fan! I think black works great with accent pieces to tie a room together, but as a wall color, it’s just too grim.

BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN: If I were able to choose one color I 100% always want to paint walls, it’s black. Nurseries? Yep. Dining spaces? Mmmm hmmm. Bedrooms? Oh, yes. Why? It instantly adds a ton of style, works with just about every other color in the spectrum and it’s completely gender neutral. The trick to getting it right is paying close attention to the source of natural light. If the light is limited but good, it may NOT be the best choice due to black’s ability to absorb light. Rooms PACKED with natural light — so much that you need serious window coverings — are an amazing fit for black walls since they won’t become visually shrunk. And best yet, in rooms completely lacking in any natural light whatsoever, I say go black on black. Just pump up your artificial lighting plan, bring in a ton of metallic and reflective surfaces and play with accent colors. Now, as far as sunshine yellow is concerned, no thanks.

JESSICA: Brian Patrick Flynn just dropped the mic, guys.

LIZ: I feel like I’m not daring enough to try them in my home, but I think black walls look amazing behind a gallery display full of bright colors. Exhibits A and B:

Do you like black walls? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens...

Do you like black walls? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens...

HANNAH SLAUGHTER: I adore my black walls. We live in a small old house with big white trim, so not only does it bring a purposeful modern punch, it also offers a chic base that can change completely with new accent colors, fabrics and accessories. At Christmas, it’s cozy with lots of warm throws & vintage tchotchkes, but in the summer, things can go modern and sparse to make the space feel cooler.

MARIANNE: I do love to look at them, but I live in a house with crisp white walls all the way.

LILI: I just suggested a friend paint their living room a dark gray/black like this to disguise their TV:

Do you like black walls? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog...

He took my suggestion and it looks great in HIS house. When it’s done right, it can be so very chic. But I just don’t think I’m chic enough (nor do I have enough natural light) in my house to pull this off. Feels too cave-like.

ALYSSA SPARACINO: Although…I just thought of an exception: Chalkboard paint.

JESSICA: When I was in high school I wanted to paint my bedroom walls black with a trim in glitter. I was going for a starry effect. However, my mother wouldn’t let me paint my walls black and certainly wouldn’t let me put glitter in the dark blue paint I settled for. This, combined with several jokes related to vampirism, would become the root of all my teen angst.

FARIMA: I think you should put glitter in your room now! I love dark walls in bedrooms, but not in high-traffic rooms. I have a very dark gray wall in my room and would totally go darker. I find it very soothing — I feel like it helps me sleep better.

You’ve heard our opinions, now tell us what you think!


Design Trends

90 Responses

  1. [...] Trend: Are Black Walls Gorgeous or Too Goth? HGTV Design Happens Fri, March 8, 2013 9:30 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

  2. susan says:

    I just painted my bedroom and tv room black, amazingly beautiful.
    The two rooms are next to each other at the end of a hall, the bedroom is matt black and the tv room is done in horizontal, large stripes alternating matt and high gloss. They both look elegant ,not dark or goth.
    I was tired of all the colors I have painted over the years and wanted something neutral, not a beige person at all and not really into all white either, black is the perfect neutral color. My rooms are small but as stated above, the walls receded and it feels bigger not smaller

  3. @shylo57 says:

    I have always preferred black over white. Black makes the walls disappear into the background and everything else pop! Black is the most elegant color on earth. it is my favorite color to wear. Everything goes with black jeans, little black skirt, or a black jacket! Black on walls, great!

  4. Anita Smith says:

    I've always enjoyed the look of white walls and gloss black furniture, so I can't see why doing it the other way round couldn't work.

  5. ange says:

    I just bought Graham & Browns— Jazz Black (SOOO NICE) and Im doing it in my lounge…I think it will be great but I need help with the rest of the decor! I wish I could post a pic somewhere and a designer could tell me!

  6. Brandon says:

    I'm going to need to try this. I was always afraid that it would make everything feeler smaller, and the lighting horrible as well. But after seeing a few photos around the web, it seems that one could really get away with using black for some interior painting if they wanted to.

  7. JJ Jacobs says:

    Great article! I've been thinking of painting my kitchen black or a very dark gray (I've got stainless steel appliances and light maple cabinets with glass front) and your photos have helped with my decision. Now I have to choose between a black chalkboard paint, a very dark gray or darkest black……!!

  8. Pam Zirbel says:

    I AM IN LOVE WITH THE BLACK WALLS!!!! CEILINGS!!! Gorgeous! Maybe I should try that with our bedroom. We will be moving to TN in 2 yrs an I should try this! Who knows! The person who buys this house will say 'how cool is that!!' thank you for the inspiration and LOVE that black hallway with the b&w floor!!! <3

  9. Marc Prentice says:

    A new tenant wanted to paint his entire apartment in dark greys. Initially I thought, 'no way, you'll move and I'll have to repaint the entire place again'. But, since he is head of Macy's merchandising in this area, I took the gamble and told him to do whatever he wanted. It turned out stunning! I love it. And sure enough he did move, and without exception everyone who toured the apt loved the wall color. It was a big plus in re-renting the apartment, not the impediment I had expected. We are planning to do additional apts in this color. The KEY is lots of natural light, white ceilings, and light floor coverings, and plenty of artificial lighting for after sundown. PS: it also does not photograph well, but shows beautifully in person.

  10. Linda Meade says:

    I prefer light blues, creams, sage greens, aquas, and buttercup yellows for my walls. For drama, I like reds and oranges- so appealing in a dining room.

Briana MowreyBriana is a writer and senior editor for HGTV.com. Her self-described design style is "mid-century modern magpie." She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with her husband, their spoiled dachshund, Chauncey,...


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