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Decorating with Black on a Budget

Use Black to Create a Bold, Sophisticated and Seriously Stylish Space


Decorating with Black on a Budget
Photo © Gatsby's List/flickr

Whether you believe black is a color or not (it is and it isn’t, but we won’t argue that here), no one can argue that black isn’t bold. Black is the most dramatic color (or lack of) that one can use in a space.

Decorating with black takes a special hand, and a special look. Most rooms can handle black just fine, but it’s the amount that counts. Some spaces will look absolutely grand with black walls, and some will look downright depressing.

If you love black and want to incorporate more of it in your space, here’s how to do it, and to know when to say when.

    Tips for Decorating With Black
  • When decorating with black, one can use black several different ways. Choose whether you would like to use black as a neutral, as an accent color, or as a main color.

  • Black, just like white, comes in many different shades and tones. Just as you would with any other color, test several fabric and paint swatches in your space before choosing a black for an entire room.

  • Know your blacks. Matte black tends to fade into the background while gloss black screams for attention. Cooler blacks tend to recede while warmer blacks appear visually closer in a space.

  • Large amounts of black work best in a space with lots of warm natural light, but don’t be afraid to go dark in a dark room. Bedrooms and other areas that aren’t task specific and don’t need a lot of light can work well with lots of black.

  • Black walls are very popular right now. If you like this look, keep the flooring and other furnishings light and neutral.

  • If you like the idea of black but like a more traditional style, try out a French country look that incorporates black and white toiles, black linens and soft grays.

  • Black looks great mixed with neutral tones like linen, khaki, white, ivory, gray and gray-greens. But don’t be afraid to add other colors, especially if you like a more contemporary style. Black is bold enough to hold its own next to fuchsia, citron green, lemon yellow or cherry red.

  • Unless you enjoy celebrating Halloween all year long, avoid mixing black with orange. Even experienced decorators have trouble pulling this color scheme off.

  • Many homeowners incorporate a lot of black believing that black will hide dust and dirt. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Black walls, fabrics and furnishings tend to show every speck of dust and grime. If you go with black, be prepared for extra upkeep.

  • To incorporate a bit of black that can also be useful, consider chalkboard paint. Use it to paint a wall, a framed area, door panels or labels on jars.

  • If you want to use black but would prefer a softer look, try black walls or furniture with an over-glazed finish. Go with fabrics that use a small amount of black in a print, or textured black fabrics without sheen. Frame photographs or art using a black-core mat. When decorating with black, start small until you feel comfortable adding more.

    Tips for Staying in Budget When Decorating With Black
  • Spray paint can be your best friend and is available in a wide variety of finishes. Choose gloss, satin or flat depending upon your preference and the use.

  • If you can’t afford expensive wallpaper, stencils and black paint can be used to create a feature wall or ceiling, or used all over for a bold wallpapered look. Black paint can also be used to paint a design on a wall or ceiling.

  • Black leather can look really chic … or really cheap. Choose with care. Leather furniture is usually worth the splurge because it can last a lifetime with minimal care, but deals can be found if you take the time to look.

  • An Asian Zen or African decorating style often incorporates varying amounts of black in its decor. Check inexpensive import stores for great deals on these types of items.

  • To avoid blowing the budget, work with what you’ve got. Instead of going big with black, try using black as an accent within your existing decor. Mix in black picture frames, throw pillows or prints to spread this color around your space.

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