ShareThis Page
Black walls make a quiet comeback |
More Lifestyles

Black walls make a quiet comeback

Kim Cook
| Friday, January 4, 2019 1:30 a.m
The walls of this Chicago home are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Midnight. “We wanted to create a space that’s calming and cozy,” Kristen Ekeland says. A black sideboard from SABIN adds depth, texture and drama.
Mark and Kristen Zeff have embraced black inside and outside of their home in East Hampton, N.Y.

There was a time when black walls were mostly the purview of goth teens and indie movie theaters. But the color has been quietly cultivating a broader following among designers and homeowners who want a cozy, enveloping ambiance that still has theatrical flair.

Bedrooms, libraries and bathrooms clad in inky or charcoal tones can be relaxing retreats. If you have loads of windows, the color helps frame exterior views. And if the space is mostly walls, black creates a cocoon-like setting that can showcase a collection of objets d’art, vibrantly patterned rugs and furniture or meditative warm woods and textures.

Laboratory-white kitchens are also yielding ground to kitchens dressed in dark hues. editor Mitchell Parker says black is having a moment in the cooking space.

Into the kitchen

“Our community of homeowners is embracing a heavy dose of dramatic color with large swaths of black range hoods, island accent colors and full-on, all-black cabinetry,” he says.

For a kitchen in Brentwood, Calif., Shannon Wollack and Brittany Zwickl of Studio Life.Style wanted to add a little more punch. “The kitchen’s all-black palette, infused with a large slab of black-and-white marble and bold brass accents, warms and fills the space without feeling too heavy,” Wollack says.

LG, GE, Kitchenaid, Bosch, Frigidaire, Smeg, JennAir and others are offering suites of charcoal-black appliances with either a matte or satin smudge-proof finish. And there’s black cabinetry, countertop gadgets and cookery as well.

Designer Mark Zeff and his wife, Kristen, have a home in East Hampton, N.Y., that celebrates black in several ways. The exterior is half-white, half-black. Inside, black serves as a narrative thread for large design elements including a floating fireplace, a stained pinewood wall in the master suite, and a glass wall in the shower. Punctuation is added with black cowhide rugs; curvy Bibendum chairs by Eileen Gray; and Eero Saarinen Womb chairs.

Elegant addition

“Black has properties that make it ideal for interior design: It’s calming to the eye, it’s elegant and it underscores organic beauty,” Mark Zeff says.

“Some may think white is a more ‘natural’ choice, but it’s actually much starker in comparison to black when blended with an environment. Because of the use of black, our home appears to hunker down and stay closer to the earth, like a natural landmark.”

Adds Kristen Zeff: “We also like that black can paradoxically open up a smaller space when applied as a paint, to make a room feel much larger than if white is used. The illusion is achieved by tricking the eye into not knowing where a room ends, by disguising the edges.”

Dee Schlotter, PPG’s senior color marketing manager, says using black on feature walls, interior surfaces and furniture serves as an anchor to neutrals, patterns and mixed materials, and provides a solid, classic element in any room while creating a sense of space and quiet.

Her color team liked the hue so much that they chose Black Flame as PPG’s 2018 Color of the Year. Glidden picked Deep Onyx, another black, as theirs.

“Black reflects the current state of rebelliousness and contentiousness in the world, but it also provides a feeling of privacy and protection,” Schlotter says.

Kim Cook is an
Associated Press writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.