Wake Up Your Woodwork With Black
Strike a dramatic note with black window frames, shelves, stairs and more, making features stand out or blend in
Jo Simmons July 26, 2014
Houzz UK Contributor. I have been an interiors journalist since 1995, writing several books on design and numerous features for glossy homes mags over the years. For Houzz, I cover decorating ideas and trends and interview designers and professionals for their insights to create in-depth features. My favourite pieces to write, though, are Houzz Tours, as I love exploring and learning about real homes. Call me curious — or nosy!
Houzz UK Contributor. I have been an interiors journalist since 1995, writing several... More
Yes, it’s dark. Yes, it’s powerful. And yes, you should work some into your home. Black is having a moment — and with good reason. Used on shelving, cabinets, door frames and more, it adds contrast, frames views and brings welcome heft to any scheme. Most of us would shy away from a room painted entirely in black, but that’s fine. With the dark stuff, a little goes a long way.
Highlight doors. An all-white scheme can be transformed with simple black paint on the door frames. Black door frames help to give focus to the room, preventing it from feeling too bleached out and floaty, and draw the eye up, emphasizing the height of the space.
Shake up shelves. Shelving on either side of a chimney breast is a can’t-fail storage option, but if traditional white woodwork in your alcoves feels a bit tired, paint it black. Dark shelves will help a black TV blend into the background and when, as here, they are built flanking the chimney breast, they become a strong and handsome feature.
Team dark units with zingy walls. Black can make friends with all sorts of other colors, including contemporary shades of green and yellow. In fact, introducing a zingy tone is often enough to lift the appearance of black cabinets, helping them to look stylish but not too serious.
Go bolder in a hallway. You can afford to be bold with black paint in a hallway, which you pass through rather than linger in. Here it’s not only the doors that have been painted black, but the baseboards and door frames, too. The dark theme has been taken up to ceiling height as well, with original moldings and a ceiling rose given a lick of pitch-dark paint. Wallpaper in a graphic pattern completes this strong look.
Make it matte and monochromatic. To help a monochromatic scheme seem sleek but not severe, stick to matte finishes and simple shapes. This beautiful kitchen owes its style success to clean lines and black units with a soft, matte appearance.
Create a headboard. Wall-to-wall black is too dark to live with, but a feature wall of black looks strong without overpowering a scheme. Here the black on the wall has been continued onto the sides of the built-in wardrobes to create a wraparound-headboard effect.
Drench your wardrobe. Black shelves lend an orderly feel to a walk-in wardrobe, and colored clothes stand out clearly against them, making it easier to find what you want to wear. Good lighting is key to the success of a dark dressing space, so think through where to include lights when you’re designing it.
Go glossy on details. In a dark color scheme, combine matte walls and flooring with a glossy black unit. The light-reflecting finish on this basin stand keeps the black looking alive and ties in nicely with the glass used liberally in the rest of the bathroom.
Frame black shelves. This built-in study space is made mostly of black painted wood; because the area around it is dark too, the desk and shelves disappear into the wall. The dark background also helps the fun, smart-phone-inspired artwork to shine.
Take it upstairs. Wooden stairs, simply painted, look great in any home, but why not take the black theme upstairs, too? Dark stairway walls create a slash of drama at the heart of the house and, with colored banisters, the look is positively rock ’n’ roll!
More: 11 Reasons to Paint Your Ceiling Black
More: 11 Reasons to Paint Your Ceiling Black
Decorating Guides 12 Questions Your Interior Designer Should Ask You
The best decorators aren’t dictators — and they’re not mind readers either. To understand your tastes, they need this essential infoFull Story 166
Decorating 101 Bulletproof Decorating: How to Pick the Right Kind of Paint
By Fred Albert
Choose a paint with some heft and a little sheen for walls and ceilings with long-lasting good looks. Here are some getting-started tipsFull Story 148
Ceilings Look Up and Dream: 11 Ideas for an Inspired Ceiling
By Lisa Higgins
Think beyond the standard coat of paint, and make your ceiling pop with unexpected materials and glamorous finishesFull Story 55