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What’s my best tip for decorating with black? Make sure you use it as an accent colour. 

Remember how much black there was in home decor in the 80s? It seemed like every entertainment center, dining table and chairs, leather sofas and glossy coffee tables were ALL BLACK.

It was too much.

Now that black is showing up in our home decor again along with greys and whites, it’s a good idea to notice that black should be an accent colour. Used well, it highlights what’s around it. But too much? Well, it becomes heavy and masculine.

The simple black railing on this staircase is just lovely.

How Black is your House? | Maria Killam

 {via pinterest}

This washing station with black floor tile is the ultimate luxury for dog owners. The black tile relates to the door and grout, but this room is filled with plenty of fresh white tile and wall colour to give it contrast.

How Black is your House? | Maria Killam

 {via pinterest}

And, in this room below, notice the white and green gray concrete floors and all the natural wood elements that help balance all the black and make this heavily styled pantry a pinnable room. Over and over again.

How Black is your House? | Maria Killam

{via pinterest}

Adding black to your interior door plates? Simple and classic.

How Black is your House? | Maria Killam

{via pinterest}

Remember when I posted about that chair and ottoman in my last townhouse and how the second it arrived in in my living room I could feel how black the room was? That is what will happen if there’s too much black in a room.

The same goes for bathrooms. Here’s how to decorate a bathroom with black and not overdo it.

How Black is your House? | Maria Killam

{via pinterest}


I’m in San Jose this week in a course which is why you haven’t heard from me! In the meantime, I had dinner with my friend Scarlett Ballantyne last week and we talked branding, here’s the link to her post. Check it out.

Related posts:

Take Risks with Your Decor Rather Than your Clients

Why Your Teenager Wants a Black Room

Black is the New Brown

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, become a client. Online or In-person.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert

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  • Jane E says:


  • Jane says:

    I have too much black in my living room. The piano is black and the low square sofas are black leather (with white stitching).

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Well I recently had the inside of my front door painted black, and I absolutely loved it! The black adds a certain sophistication. Then I decided to have my pantry door painted black as I have a black and white kitchen. Love that too as it breaks up all the white in the cabinets and appliances. However, a little goes a long way:)

  • tara dillard says:

    Remember a quote in House/Garden decades ago, ‘every room needs a little black’, Sister Parish.

    XO T

  • franki says:

    I’m a “black is back” kinda gal. But then, I’ve always been in “that” corner…black, grey and…metallics. Bet your weather is nicer than our weather!! EnJOY!! franki

  • Joanne says:

    I think with the amount of overcast/rainy days we get in the Pacific Northwest, black would be too depressing. Used sparingly, it does had a sophistication to a room.
    I’d love to have that dog washing station. What a luxury!

  • Mary says:

    Ugh – why did I have to read this? I just walked into my home office, which is filled with black Pottery Barn desks, cabinets and bookcases. Now its going to torture me. Anyone know how well that sort of furniture takes a coat of paint? And what would be a great color to paint a LOT of black furniture?

    • Mary-Illinois says:

      From one Mary to another…. I had a couple of black storage cubes from PB that I painted white about 5 years ago. I just used a latex primer & paint. It took 2 coats of primer & 2 coats of paint. With some light sanding between coats, they turned out great.

  • Loribeth says:

    There’s a “rule” about design that I’ve always felt worked. “Every room should have some black in it.”
    We used to have a black leather sofa that seems to be “required” furniture for every bachelor… It’s gone now. It was too much black.

  • mairi says:

    Maria, by extension would a gunmetal or charcoal grey be treated as black as far as these guidelines are concerned re: furniture/accessories? For example my media stand is the Ikea Nittorp and I have a black chair in the room to balance it. Thanks..

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes, I would also make sure there isn’t too much charcoal in a room too! That sounds like just enough 🙂

  • Someone said “black is my crack” and I am SO with them. My favorite room right now has black walls, trim and doors. Everything that is in that room that isn’t black “sings”. I love the Yin and Yang of moving from bright white rooms to moody dark spaces. It’s all in how you pull it together. Black is not for amateurs!!!!

  • sandyc says:

    Not much of a black fan – my biggest concentration of black was years ago in office furniture, primarily because I hated the faux wood stuff and the white stuff looked cheap (my budget was greatly limiting). Today, the fixed element of black in my house is the dark-framed windows (more of a very dark brown black) which, with my one arch and vaulted ceiling in the LR/DR, give my home its sorta Spanish bungalow look which I absolutely love. Otherwise, a small black TV, a black monitor and a large black framed pic with a black lamp/lampshade beside it make up the black in my house. Funny that I was originally convinced I wanted a black console table to sit under that pic but couldn’t find anything that was proportionally correct for the wall. Something totally unexpected called my name one day when I was visiting my favorite consignment store and I’m quite happy. My color palette is cream based rather than white anyway. I admire many black & white rooms but I keep turning the page on them for myself.

  • sherry says:

    I like black but I haven’t been using it much in my new home. I’ve ordered black countertops, but that’s about it so far.

    I really love the tile in the dog bath picture. I may do that in a bathroom or two in the near future.

    My old black sofa is still at our other house and it’s looking a little dated. I’m glad it’s hidden upstairs.

  • carolanne says:

    big fan of black… we are going to the kitchen store tomorrow to talk new kitchen for ourselves and the cupboards will be black… the counters an ivory of some sort that blends with the floors that I cannot change… I know if I am talked out of black I will not be a happy camper so it will be black (even my hubby knows not to question it any more, lol)

  • Ann says:

    Hi Maria. I just painted my sitting room walls black. I have a creamy white antique sofa. What do you think about the new trend of painting the walls black like the pantry you’ve shown us?

    • Maria Killam says:

      I think if you balance the black, it can be fabulous! Sounds like you’re doing that! Maria

  • Mary P. says:

    I love black on anything in a room, it’s cozy and elegant. I love it except on the floor – ugh!! Impossible to keep clean, it shows everything!

  • teresa says:

    How timely. I’ve just been considering painting a campaign-style bookcase a darker tone of the green gray wall colour instead of black. I have too much of it in one room and it is overwhelming. When it was the one stand-out piece it was fine, but now it actually makes it look larger than it is. Thanks for giving me permission! CTD

  • Betsy OShea says:

    Maria did a LR or den and used black beautifully to blend in w the black flat screen tv. The flanking bookshelves were black and so was the coffee table….the addition of other black items made tge TV much less noticeable. Maria, you know tge room…walls were gold. You could post that.

  • Anne says:

    We had a new front door unit put in and the door is solid black with a nickel coated door knocker and peephole. The screen door is all glass except at the bottom. We removed the carpet on the inside stairs and painted them black with white because there were so many nails and staples that we had no choice, so now it looks fantastic and when the door is opened one sees a black door and black steps.

  • All of my interior doors and my stair rail have been black for 15 years,but thinking of changing to grey for a new look. Great post!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I was designing & updating our bathroom in 2009. The new black vanity cabinets were sitting in the garage waiting to be installed.
    Then I found you! I found someone to paint them white for me so fast. (That was before I learned how to paint my own cabinets.)
    I guess I was still in my black phase even then. I had several black pieces of furniture. And all my picture frames were black. The dusting was non-stop.
    I’m glad I moved on in my decor & learned how to paint.

  • Cynthia says:

    No black at all in my office, except the TV screen. But black TV cabinet, Ikea bookcases and a black Asian style cabinet in the living room. As well as a black high gloss grand piano. I think it’s OK. It’s other stuff in there that needs help.

  • Ange Mills says:

    I must have something black in each room of the house. Even painted our oak claw foot table, hutch, and chairs distressed black. After four years decided that was way too much black so replaced chairs with distressed white Louis XVI chairs. Which really changed the look.

  • megeranski says:

    Predominately Black/dark grey/dark anything, all require better lighting than other tones. When we love seeing these colors, it is due to the lighting. (by this do not mean floods of bright lights – mean, extraordinarily well-placed light of just the right intensity, in just the right places).

    The perfect lighting scheme brings sophistication and nuance, making the room The Only Place You Want To Be. Sloppy or poor lighting, will make you cringe and plan your escape.


  • megeranski says:


    all blacks are not created equally. surface texture and tone are key, as well as (Go, Maria!) undertones.

    some blacks are red, some are green, some are blue. gots to combine the right undertones of black, just like any other color.

    hard shiny surfaces of black, non-stop, might be unnerving.

    satin or matte finishes, soft weaves and textures, fine vs. coarse, all taken together are even more noticeable with dark colors.

    don’t you just love it!!??!?!?

  • Jacqueline says:

    Hey Maria!! Oh man…busted!!! I have black chalkboard walls & ceiling in my kitchen, similar to the pantry pic. Too funny!!! Also have black seagrass wall paper in my entry. Am just about to paint one more wall black on my TV wall in the living room!! Makes my not so fab old parquet floors look modern & my vintage teak buffet look current. (Orangey toned woods look so classically cool & NEW with black or dark grey.) But all the rest is all pale greens, blues, aquas with hits of yellow & pink. You’re so right…all about balance. Anyway, just had to share cuz it was a post for ME!!! Xo :))

  • Nancy kinkead says:

    I have seen some designer dramatic black rooms.
    The challenge is being able to pull it off.
    I think done right we can take any color and not be afraid to use it.
    Saw a post just the other day on what bathrooms will look like in 2015.
    Article said white subway out
    And showed a all black bathroom .
    I do have to say it was pretty dramatic.
    Not fir me but can appreciate the creactivity .

  • kates says:

    I love a touch of black and I also love Navy. Right now I have these two black shelving units that flank my tv and they are seriously Dragging down the room. That and my brown leather sofa. ugh. I can’t wait to get rid of it and go for nice white built ins and a lighter sofa.

    I just need to know how much is too much and what is the best way to incorporate black into a space?

  • Caroll says:

    LOve a touch of black in all rooms..great with light walls and red oriental carpets.

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