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Back to Black: Can Black Interiors Work?

In a word, yes, black interiors can and do work when given plenty of thought. Black interiors are popular for many reasons: black is a great base colour that works with almost every other colour, it does not stain as easily (depending on the material, of course) and can add a simple elegance to a room in a way other colours cannot. Moreover, black looks excellent when combined with white, and the monochrome look is a classic that is likely to stay in-style for many years yet.

Black and white are two colours that always work well together.

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However, much like an all-white colour scheme, an all-black interior that actually works is one of the most difficult things to pull off successfully in interior design. Indeed, creating an all-black room is taking on a task of immense proportions, where every effort must be made and every item of furniture deliberated upon to the ninth degree in order to prevent it from looking like a depressed person’s nightmare.

There is one simple solution to the above problem, though, and that is to not use too much black. As black is such a solid colour, it works well when used in combination with much lighter colours such as yellow or taupe. The contrast with black can actually frame such shades, making them seem brighter. Black is also particularly striking when used on an accent wall.

Yellow can be a perfect colour to pair with black.

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Remember that, although black is very much a pure colour, it does in fact come in shades. Off-black colours include olive black, jet, onyx and liquorice black. Other colours that have a heavily black tint include midnight blue, Davy’s gray, phthalo green, Charleston green and burnt-wood colours such as ebony, charcoal and taupe. These colours combine very well with black, or can be used as a third colour to create a bridge or meeting point between black and another, lighter colour.

Another thing to remember about black is that it absorbs light and can retain heat. Therefore, it is perhaps best not to use too much black in rooms where there is significant heat retention and/or little air circulation. Black interiors are fine for large, brightly lit living rooms and conservatories, for example, but may not be such a good idea for smaller spaces with little light.

Lighting, be it natural or artificial, can make or break a black interior.

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The amount of light – natural or artificial – is key to making black interiors work in a room. Black is already a rather dramatic colour, and light can make the room more dramatic still. Some use glossy black porcelain tiles to reflect light, whilst others use natural light in creative ways to provide black interiors with different hues throughout the day. Artificial lights can be used to highlight certain areas of a room, and is a great way of showing off a piece of art.

Finally, we can move on to black furniture; whether sofas, shelves or wardrobes. Black is an unusual colour for furniture (apart from sofas), although perhaps a more popular colour than other non-wood colours. This may be because black furniture works extremely well in minimalist rooms or rooms where whites and woods (e.g. white walls, wooden floors) are the predominant colour. Black-coloured patterns are equally striking, and can be used in a variety of mediums (cushions, walls, rugs, and so on) to both break up solid blacks and create a sense of movement in a room.

Dark wood and black sofas marry well together.

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