Homes & Design Photo Credit: Behr

How to Use Black Paint (Without Going Goth)

5 tips for creating a sophisticated look with black paint.

Quiz time: what’s the best-selling neutral colour for Behr Paints? Designer-friendly white? Soft, sophisticated grey?

Nope: it’s black.

“We were a little surprised,” laughs Quinn Larson, Color Marketing Project Manager at Behr, at the unusually popular selection. “For the average person, black has such strong connotations with darkness or evilness. But really, black is a neutral so you can put it with anything. And it has a strong tie to style and authority.”

Really, it’s about context. Think about black in fashion—it graces both concert tees and cocktail dresses. With that in mind, we’re ready to embrace the sophisticated side of black paint, with these key tips in mind to help us from veering into teenage-basement-bedroom territory.

5 Tips for Using Black Paint for Your Home

black paint in bedroom

Pair it with bright or uplifting colours. “Stay away from grey and murky tones. This is where things get a little teenage,” Larson says, smiling. When it’s paired with colours that don’t have the same negative connotations, black gets a chance to shine.

modern staircase black paint

Bring in black to balance a room. Black is a neutral, and can offer a sense of visual relief from stronger hues that could be overwhelming in large doses. “White usually plays this role, but you can let black be the balancing agent, too,” says Larson.

black accent wall

Try a black accent wall. This looks best in a room that has plentiful natural or artificial light, so ditch the drapes or invest in some great floor lamps—in a dark room, a black wall can make a space feel a little cave-like. (Though there are certain circumstances where creating a smaller, more intimate space could be beneficial. “It can help make a long room feel shorter,” Larson explains.)

black accents bathroom

Treat it like any accent colour. If you’ve used black paint in the room, pepper other black elements throughout the space—a black table lamp, used in the pattern of a pillowcase, black picture frames. Any colour seems less jarring when it’s well-distributed.

home office black

Play with the sheen. “I’m seeing black-on-black more frequently,” notes Larson. “It can be a very clean, very modern look.” Try a flat black wall with a satin or semi-gloss trim: the higher the sheen, the richer the colour. “You want that richness. It elevates the black from looking dour or gothic.”

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