Janice's Blog

Monday, March 19, 2012

Black Magic

6 Reasons to Cross Over to the Dark Side – NOW!

janice lindsay painting blog black
Aussie Restaurant

The first time I ever got to choose the colour for a room I chose black. I was seventeen. It was a large room in our basement and I painted the fake wood paneled walls black, high gloss black. That was when my love affair with black began.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Poodle Head. Designer, Abigail Ahern

Black’s beauty comes as a surprise to most people. When I suggest it to clients they think it will be depressing, that it will suck the life-blood right out of them, or that it is only suitable for their rebellious teenage kids. But those who take the plunge are invariably shocked to find out how fabulous it is and wonder why on earth they waited so long. Here are six reasons why black is a fantastic wall colour:

janice lindsay painting blog black
Abigail Ahern

Black is relaxing. We live in a world of visual over-drive – over 80% of information is received visually. We need black, the colour of quiet, to chill out. Darkness reduces visual input while enhancing our other senses; this why we close our eyes when we kiss and dim the lights at concerts. In a black room you can hear yourself think. In a busy, urban, largely white world, we need black for psychological balance.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Bedroom image from Sheri Martin Interiors

Black is neutral. If your chromatic comfort zone is neutrals, black adds drama, interest and rhythm into the palette while avoiding “colour”. It is important to use value – light to dark – effectively if you are working with a neutral palette, otherwise it will be flat. Extend beyond pale and midtone values into black or charcoal for depth and variety.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Living room image from Sheri Martin Interiors

janice lindsay painting blog black
Stairway. Abigail Ahern

Black makes small spaces bigger. Our eyes do not focus on black surfaces. They seem to look through them into a deep void. Add gloss to take it further and exaggerate the effect. Use black to double the width of a narrow powder room, the breadth of a small vestibule or the height of low basement ceilings.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Fireplace. Abigail Ahern

Black is slimming. The little-black-dress principle works for everything from furniture to cabinets. Black reduces bulk so use it for sofa upholstery and paint it on bookcases, fireplaces and cabinetry or any protuberance that seems too big for the room. Outside use black on large sheds or garages to reduce their size.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Abigail Ahern

Black hides flaws and emphasizes features. Our eye is drawn to light things and floats over dark. At night we look at stars, not sky. So paint anything that is ugly, flawed or boring black to make it go away. Then notice how black walls, like the frame around a painting, are the background against which everything looks great! Black makes it easy to create focal points. Decorating a black room requires few but better pieces making you the curator of what it is you want to feature and enjoy.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Abigail Ahern and her London home.

Replace white with black for a beautiful exterior. Black, off-black, charcoal or dark brown trim and details can give even rather ordinary brick or stone homes a sophistication that white does not. Homes become more Japanese in style or contemporary. Garage doors are less in-your-face. But the real magic is the garden. Any fences or structures that are painted with dark colours take on a gentler presence and let the colours of nature be the star of the show. Against black all colour glows.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Shiny black. Abigail Ahern

Nineteenth century British artist J. M. W. Turner said you cannot paint light without dark colours. I think we need dark walls to really see and appreciate the light spaces; they seem so much brighter by comparison.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Light. Abigail Ahern


  • If you are using black on all the walls and the ceiling, a pale floor is good for balance.
  • White is black’s complementary colour so black and white is a very powerful combo. Avoid using them in equal amounts. Use one as the dominant colour and the other as accent. One black wall or a black ceiling in a white room works well. Black and white checkered things are busy. Replace the white with tan or stone grey to soften the contrast on floors and back splashes. Mix black and off-white instead of white for a Chanel elegance.
  • Avoid black floors. They are as hard to keep clean as white, if not harder! Gloss finish will reveal flaws on a surface. If your walls are in bad shape still to low sheen finishes embrace the flaws.

janice lindsay painting blog black
Room in the Hotel Chelsea

Fave blacks from my Coming Home Colour Collection for PPG Pittsburgh Paints:

  • Black Magic 518-7 a true black.
  • Black Elegance 531-7 a slightly purple black.
  • Knight’s Armor 518-6 charcoal with a touch of blue, great exterior colour!
  • Gibraltar Gray 530-6 a warm lead colour for those who want to ease over to the dark side.

As one of my black-loving clients once said to me: Black is the colour of confidence. You just have to have the confidence to use it.

Please send me your dark stories!



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posted by Blogger Manny Tacbobo, July 27, 2012 at 5:51 AM

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