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Interior design trend spotting – black, black and black

Kicking bad design habits in listings

We’ve shared with you the current trends of chandeliers and turquoise as well as extremely stylish wall stencils in an effort to bring those that believe gold, glass and gawd are still in. When an agent advises a listing client to keep everything as is and convinced that forest green walls and foofy maroon sheers will sufficiently sell a home, we cringe.

In that vein, today we share with you the trend of black in interior design. Don’t freak out, that’s not a typo, we mean it. Black as night is very in right now and not just in accents but in furniture (not as in 1983 stuffed leather loungers), fabrics, curtains, floors, and all four walls in a room. The surprising part about black is that it’s not being used in man caves, it has become a very classic and sometimes feminine color.

Take for example Toronto interior designer Jane Hall’s personal home which has black in every single room. She was just featured on HGTV Canada’s blog for her eclectic and innovative design.

Below each picture below, we point to the trends inside the images that we’re seeing in interior design. We encourage you to find the trends that you like and recommend them to your listing clients or even to your buyers who have a hard time imagining how they can customize their own white box of a house.

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All black walls?


Yes, folks, behold the all black walls. We start with the trickiest of trends because in most cases, this will be horridly executed and make a room look like a torture dungeon. If black is to be used, we recommend a dark charcoal grey rather than stark black, and the more high quality the paint, the better. Your clients should splurge on paint and paint tools if doing it themselves, or simply hire a quality painter who uses quality paint. We’re seeing more matte finishes in black walls and gloss should only be used in very specific situations like high rises or rooms filled with windows. Lastly, if a room doesn’t have great natural light or amazing canned lighting, black won’t work, period.

Pops of pink


We love the pops of magenta in this room and point out the various textures and angles. Not all furniture is squarely up against the wall, of the same color, collection or even era. The room feels bright because of the accent wall that matches the exaggerated curtains and crisp glossy white crown molding and baseboards. Also note that even though there are a lot of accessories, they’re all grouped together to appear as one and the floor is highly visible despite there being a big black rug.

Classic + modern = sophisticated


This one piece of Jane Hall’s furniture is insanely beautiful and represents innovative thinking that is not seen frequently but can be replicated (probably not as well, but we can try, right?). Note that the seat has multiple fabrics on the actual furniture and a collection of mis-matched pillows, yet they are all cohesive. They’re not just cohesive with this light pink ladie’s room that is an amazing compliment to the bright magenta in the living room, they’re cohesive with the entire house with repeating themes of floral patterns, black, pink and luxurious fabrics and textures. The use of black in this room is beautiful and not at all overpowering, yet ties everything together, so use black as a neutral, it’s okay!

What do you think of using black in interior decorating? Would it work in your clients’ homes or your own? We won’t tell if you’re getting inspired for your own home!

Photos by Harry Gils for HGTV Canada.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Julia

    June 24, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I love the black. I think one of the keys is to have high contrast, like the bright white ceiling/trim and the light floors in the example picture. Definitely not a look for everyone but in the right home (with the right furniture) it's incredibly striking.

  2. Molly

    June 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I shot a house on Tuesday that had black bead board high chair rail and extra deep base boards and crown all in flat black.

    I wanted to eat it UP! It was gorgeous AND in the lower level (walkout) AND it was not confining OR dark. Just mmmm.mmmm.good.

  3. Jane Hall

    June 25, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Your write came across my web alerts on my house, and I am so pleased you liked it. I love the use of black and white in design. I custom make all the furniture and accessories and am always encouraging clients to thing outside that neutral box and embrace colour and pattern in design for the wow factor.

  4. Clay Stephens

    June 25, 2011 at 5:37 am

    I really love black walls. I designed an all black bedroom for a client about 8 years ago. Black walls with deep camel carpet and ceiling, black lacquered furniture, black silk drapery and bedding and one magnificent red antique chinese armoire! When I first told the client that I wanted to do a black room they were apprensive but when fininshed they loved it!

  5. Mary Miraglia

    June 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    This strikes me as problematic for most sellers AND buyers. While it may be high style, it's certainly not necessary to paint walls black to achieve high style. And once you have, if someone doesn't like them, changing them isn't easy. Not like as in, if you don't like beige you just paint it green. As in, you've got to use stain killer and a lot of paint.

    For a seller, you have to figure 80% of people are not going to like this, no matter how well done it is. For the buyer, you may have found an ideal house with a hell of a decorating problem.

    I don't think most homeowners are prepared to do this with a house they're going to sell. And with good reason.

  6. Molly

    June 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

    With the new paints that have stain killer already built in I don't see it being the chore it once was.

    To me this is less of a hassle to correct (if I wanted) than removing olive or harvest gold tile in the bathrooms. Bigger chore and more costly.

  7. Jane Hall

    June 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    With a good primer it will cover the colours and you can paint over the colours. What sells a house is the way it is put together down to the smallest detail. I just had a clients house sell in 12 hours for a million dollars and the walls were gold, red, midnight, khaki, chocolate and periwinkle. The new owners didn't want to change a thing and asked for my card. I maintain that you are looking for the right buyer and should try to stand out among the crowd.

  8. Tamara

    July 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I'm with Mary. While I like the black and pink, I am sure there are many buyers that wouldn't, and hey, I don't even think I could do with a steady diet of it. I'm noticing more with my upper end buyers that they are seeing painting over colors they don't like as a reason they pass on a house. I think it's the mind set that if they are paying that much, they want it move in ready, hence, not having to cover up dark paint is a plus.

    But like Jane said, there IS a buyer for every house.

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