Is black really back in interior design?

4 years ago
3 minutes

The landscape of interior design is ever-changing. Whether it be furnishings, appliances, furniture or style, it's often hard to keep up with the latest trends — and the same goes for colour.  

The design world always has an ‘in’ colour as its neutral base. It’s the shade you see painted inside show apartments and rentals. White has always been the neutral fall-back, but beige was favoured in the early 2000s as an alternative, while for the last 10 years it’s been grey. 

Now, many interior designers from the USA and the UK believe black may be the new neutral in town — and it could make its way over to these shores soon. 


It seems rather hard to believe, but according to Sarah Fishburne, the director of trend and design at popular US interior store Home Depot, the modern farmhouse craze in America of the last few years has caused a rise in the use of the colour in homes.

“I have always loved black rooms, especially when you have great molding and trim work. The black really shows it all off,” she said. 

Ms Fishburne appears to love it so much, she plans to paint her dining room black. “Like white, black is a blank canvas and it’s super versatile,” she adds. 


Briana Nix, a designer for the online American service Decorist, agrees. “Black is a great supporter of all interior styles,” she told the Washington Post.

“Whether sleek and modern or rustic farmhouse, black paint and decor offers a sophisticated air to many different looks.”

Black paint also holds another useful quality — it makes a room feel bigger. That’s according to fellow Decorist designer Caitlin McBride, who insists dark colours make a room’s walls recede, making a space feel bigger.


“Since the corners of a dark painted room can’t be defined and there isn’t an easy way to tell where they start or end, the walls feel endless.”

However, if you’re thinking of spreading black paint on a particular wall in your home, just be aware of the impact that may cause. 

A bedroom wall is an ideal space to implement this colour as it mimics the night’s sky and can induce a good night’s sleep. At the same time, black in your children’s nursery may not have the desired effect. 


Dining rooms, living rooms and well-lit hallways are often idyllic locations to paint black. The colour can introduce a luxurious nature to the space — especially if it’s used in contrast with white furnishings. 

It’s also important to take into account the amount of light the room gets. Irishman Patrick O’Donnell, Farrow & Ball’s brand ambassador and expert colour consultant, warns that black can make a room feel dull if it’s used in a poorly-lit place. 

As well as shade, the finish is also pivotal to the aesthetic of your wall. Matte or flat finishes emanates a soft and chalky look and is more forgiving on imperfect surfaces. A glossy finish will reflect light and give your room more dimension — but beware, high-gloss paints show every imperfection.


If a full-blown black room is too much for you, then try adding some touches of the colour elsewhere. Dark furniture, textiles and accessories in your design adds weight to very light rooms and can bring additional depth to areas that are already painted in a darker hue. 

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