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Sunday morning I had coffee with my sisters and my Mom in our living room. One of my sisters said someone she follows on Instagram had just tiled their entire bathroom black and painted the rest of the walls–including the ceiling–black to match. She revealed the completed bathroom on her reels along with copy that shouted:

“Why should you never paint your bathroom all black? 

“Because it looks amazing and you’ll quickly become addicted to it and soon every room will be black.”

One of the comments stated “I’ve been on the fence about doing this but I think I know what I’m doing this weekend”.

So what’s the problem with black?

When I warn people of the perils of black, everyone immediately assumes I must flatly dislike black. So why should they listen to someone who clearly has a bias against the darkest colour on the planet?

And this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Have I seen enough black to last a lifetime because of what I do?

Lately? Yes. But that still doesn’t mean I can’t stand it and want nothing to do with it.

Because all I’ve ever done on here since I first starting writing this blog in 2008 is warn ya’ll of overdosing on the trending neutral of the moment. Whether it’s  brown, beige, taupe, grey, white or black.

My opinion is not Black and White

When someone finds my content and they get that there is a ring of truth to it. . . 

Truth GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

But they’re still on the fence about whether they should heed my advice. They click around. Perhaps ending up at my portfolio to look for photos of my house and as one follower questioned:

I’m writing this post today in case other people have had the same thought. Because this is not the first time I’ve been asked this question.

So first, make no mistake my message is ALWAYS the same and has been for 16 years: don’t go too far with the trendy neutral of the moment. 

And, when you’re not a designer, it’s hard to know where the “You are here” button is. 

And “you are here” just before you’ve gone too far. Once you miss the exit to the beautiful land of timeless, you’re headed straight for the signpost: Caution Trendy Ahead! Be prepared to renovate soon!

The smart question to ask

So it’s smart to be asking yourself if you’re overdoing the black (or white) choices that you’re making.

Every neutral can also be timeless. 

It all depends on how and how much.

So let’s tour the black accents in my house

Yes my staircase is black and was when I bought the house. It’s a French country house and it’s an iron railing, it should most definitely be black.

When we refinished the floors, it would have taken a lot of labour to also refinish the steps. The edges would have to be hand sanded. So I had the treads lacquered black. The risers were the off white trim colour to break it up, and much of the black treads were covered with the leopard carpet. That post is right here.

Leopard stairs with black railing

The black chair sitting in the entry will eventually be replaced with a much nicer chair, but I had it from my last house. Nothing wrong with the hit of black to be clear. 

In the living room, my coffee table is black. It grounds all the light, colourful furniture.

Notice however that my fireplace was NOT painted black (like anyone else following this trend would have immediately done to replace the taupe that it was) instead I had it faux finished to look like Calcatta Marble which flows from my kitchen backsplash to the new 24″ x 24″ tiled floor in the sunroom/dining room.

Black coffee table

Notice that all these black accents, the railing, treads, the accent chair and the coffee table, are all slim in proportion. If they were solid swathes of black, they would work very different visually. If my stairs, for example, were solid black, treads, risers and all with no runner? It would have looked completely wrong.

Leopard print is my go to

And I have a black and gold leopard chair along with leopard pillows and my kitchen chairs have the same fabric on the backs of the chairs (the seats and front of these chairs are green).

Leopard is a neutral and works perfectly with my glam and colourful living room. It’s also a pattern that is not nearly as heavy as solid black. 

I also love how the gold chandelier is visually repeated by the yellow leopard fabric and it’s a good thing since so far, I don’t have any other gold metals in my kitchen.

The existing hardware in my kitchen is brushed nickel and I like that it relates to my existing violet grey countertops (which will eventually be changed but since my island is white, this is not an emergency).

Leopard print island chairs

Black in my dining room

In my dining room I have black, french country lanterns that were existing with the house and I love them so they’re staying. 

The existing doorknobs in my house happened to be oil rubbed bronze and since I have brown floors, they’re staying as well.

Black lanterns dining room

I also bought these black rechargable lamps for my white outdoor dining set at the end of the season last year and I’m using them here.

By the way any lantern I saw in France was also black, in fact I wrote a post about black, timeless lanterns in France, here. 

Black lanterns in France

Wait, one more black accessory in the dining room, it’s right here:

Pedestal with black urn

Black in the bedroom

Our work-in-progress primary bedroom (headboard needs to be recovered, I need drapes, etc)  has this fabulous floral artwork with black in it and that is repeated by the black iron bed frame, which again is French country inspired.

black canopy bed

I don’t have good photos of my powder room which still needs the perfect piece of art but suffice to say that the floor is a black, marble hex tile and the ONLY place where black will be repeated in there is the framed art (still to come).

Black on our exterior

It has a black roof which is perfect with the style of this French country home. In the roof module in my Exterior masterclass, I mention that every single house in France has a black roof. 

And the gutters are black as they should be here, otherwise we’d be looking at white stripes and for this house that would not look good. The downspouts were also black but when I had the house painted last summer I had the painter spray them to match the house.

Black gutters

And I have black iron railings which are perfect with this home and once again black lanterns, as it should be.

black porch lantern

I also have black, french country bistro chairs and I had the base of my marble table sprayed black to match when I moved it outside from my last kitchen (when it was brass).

Every room needs a touch of black

The lesson here is, that I have basically employed the age old adage “Every room needs a touch of black”.

And what there is to notice in my home, it’s a touch. 

Not an overdose. I have black where it should be and nowhere else.

This means, when this trend passes like they all do, I will not be filled with regret.

And that my dear lovelies is all I’m ever trying to save you from with my warnings about too much black.

I love you, and I want you to have a home you’ll love forever!

Train with me soon!

The best place to learn how is by enrolling in my Create a Dream Home virtual event coming up on April 26 & 27.  Sign up for today for only $1,297 after April 15, the price goes up! Register here.

And designer professionals or career-change designers, train with me in Chicago on May 15 & 16, 2024. Sign up for today for only $1,997 after April 15, the price goes up! Register here. 


Related posts:

Two Essentials Tips for Decorating with Black Walls

Timeless vs. Trendy: 5 Decorating Details You Can’t Ignore

Trendy vs. Timeless Black Tile for this Primary Bathroom

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  • Janet says:

    Every time you show your home weather on Instagram or in your blog it is simply breathtakingly beautiful! I look at each room and try to learn from your home, ways that I can use in my home to make it more beautiful as well. Thank you.

  • Julianna Mathers says:

    Beautiful! Classic and timeless! I miss these posts where you dissect a room. Thank you for writing one this week. I’m sure your videos are a huge success so I get it but glad to have a detailed post today.

  • CSue says:

    Thank you for this post! Every time I discussed any hint of black on your blog, someone would say “Maria says don’t use black!” I think bewteen this one and the one about how to spread it around in big/medium/small quantities, and you’ve got it covered!

  • Sarah says:

    I really appreciate how patient you are with people’s questions and how you’re such a good teacher. That’s one of the reasons we love you!
    The hits of black are the perfect bit of edginess that keep the look from feeling flat. Maybe it’s sorta like salting your food! (or peppering? 🤔)
    PS – The green throw pillow in your dining room is perfection! 😍

  • Ann E Crutchfield says:

    When my son was a teenager (mid-1980’s) he wanted an all black bedroom. He needed new bedroom furniture, and black laquerd furniture was the rage, so that’s what I bought him. We argued about black walls and I finally said that I’d buy the black paint if he would paint it AND when he was tired of the black, repaint it. He did and I had to admit is looked good. Reading your post reminded me of the black bedroom. Ok for a teen, and I think by allowing him to experiment, gave him a good sense of style.

    • Fiona says:

      I’m glad you let your son paint his black bedroom! It’s good for teenagers to experiment, it’s part of discovering who you are. I’m grateful that my parents let me paint my bedroom in bold colors as a teenager. The chocolate brown and turquoise I picked in the early 2000s is long gone, but I am still the person in my family who’s most confident choosing colors and who everyone else asks for advice. And it was good to learn how to paint myself, too.

  • Jan says:

    This was a great topic, thanks.

    I have to admit I have a powder room in which the only color that made sense was black. I still love it as do others.. I did it long before the trend. I also did a dove grey bedroom in the 90’s which I never tired of.

    I just hate it when something I’ve done becomes a trend by chance, lol.

  • Kay says:

    I agree, the hits of black in your house are just right. My rooms also have hits of black, and it does ground a room that is mostly light in color. And it’s classic and doesn’t look dated.

    You’ve also shown in other posts what a mistake it is to use white cabinetry with black hinges and pulls. That look is like black polka dots on a white ground , rather than the hits of black you talk about here.

    • Lorri says:

      I can’t wait for the day when people stop putting in black knobs, handles and faucets with white cabinets.

      A local builder showed a shower in a house they’d just built and was fishing for compliments. The shower itself was beautiful. It was white marble with a vertical accent of white and gray marble where the shower head and snobs are. I usually hate accents, but this one was pretty.

      Unfortunately, the new homeowner made the terrible choice to put in matte black shower head, knobs, and a hand-held shower head. It looked so broken up and the hand-held shower head looked like a black snake against all that white.

      People were writing in the comments, “Beautiful shower, but I don’t know about that matte black.” 😉

  • Fiona says:

    It’s so funny to me that people heard your advice about not OVERDOING black, and their takeaway was that you hate black and would never use it.

    I don’t particularly care for white. But there is still plenty of white in my house! Avoiding black or white religiously when sometimes they’re the only choice that makes sense, would end up looking weird and forced in my opinion. Not to mention you would go to SO much effort when those are the only colors widely available for some of the more utilitarian items that are in every home.

  • Diane says:

    Very educational post, and I love any opportunity to admire your so very beautiful home, Maria.

    One other reason not to paint a bathroom all black – most of us who use makeup and style our hair, do it in the bathroom. In a black box, the lighting is neither flattering nor accurate, and certainly does not recreate any other conditions we will be in throughout the day.

  • Charly says:

    Sorry to correct you. Of course not, the roofs of French houses are not all black. Slate is used in certain regions, particularly for snow. But most houses in France have red/orange brick tiles.

  • Patricia says:

    My neighbor just painted her entire house black. She has a two story Victorian house with a wrap around porch with wood siding. She painted the siding black, trim work black, porch ceiling and floor black and doors black. The only other color on the entire house is the post around the porch which she stained mahogany. I asked her why she turned a white house with black shutters into a black house with no shutters she told me she had asked a designer for color choices and this is what the designer told her to do. Is this going to be the next trend ?

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