Colors that Go with Black

The LBD of interior design, black is a timeless and versatile addition to any home.

Black interiors are like marmite; you either love them or hate them. While some see a black room as moody, luxurious, seductive, or sophisticated, others perceive it to be dark, depressing, gloomy, and soulless. Neither opinion is better than the other, but what is clear is that black evokes a broad spectrum of sentiments. Black is a hugely versatile shade and depending on how much or little of it you use and where it can have an entirely different effect on a space.

What is the Psychology of Black?

Black has both a dark and not-so-dark side to it. In Western culture, the color is often used to represent negative symbols, like evil, the unknown, and occult threats and dangers. It's no coincidence that black is worn by some of the greatest movie villains, like Voldemort, Darth Vader, or Agent Smith. For many, it evokes emotions of fear, pessimism, sadness, depression, anger, or aggression. For others, however, black holds positive associations with elegance and sophistication. It is an inherently formal and timeless color that has long been associated with power, authority, and status; think priests and judges, suits and tuxedos, or rebellious teens! In feng shui, black is associated with the water element and symbolizes power, mystery, and calm.

What are the Best Ways to Use Black in the Home?

  • Use black accents to punctuate a space, lending depth, and a sleek modern edge.

  • Be bold and daring with an all-black floor-to-ceiling scheme. This works best in large rooms with lots of natural light, as it makes a small room feel even smaller.

  • Compromise on going all-out black with a black accent wall instead. Think tiles, built-in cabinets or shelving units, or a fun chalkboard wall on which to illustrate your great ideas.

  • Opt for black granite countertops for a smart and practical kitchen design.

  • Upholster dining chairs or a sofa in black fabric for a modern and sophisticated look that is also forgiving with spills and mucky little hands or paws. Though, think twice if your furry friend has light-colored fur, as it will show up easily against the dark fabric.

What Colors Go with Black?

Black's unbeatable versatility and innate neutrality lends itself to an infinite range of color combinations. Here are some of our favorites…

1. Black and White

Black and white kitchen

Black and white is like yin and yang, a pair that exists as inseparable and contradictory yet complementary opposites. The two shades balance out each other's energy in a dynamic conversation that leaves a lasting impression. It is a classic and timeless combination that has been used in homes for centuries. Avoid going 50/50 with black and white, as this can feel overwhelming. Instead, choose one as your primary color and the other as your secondary color, like in this contemporary kitchen.

2. Black and Neutrals

Stylish and cozy interior

Add depth to a neutral scheme with black accents. Apply it to the room as you would eyeliner to distinguish and accentuate your home's best features. Black accents should only occupy 10% of the color scheme and must be evenly distributed around the space to create a sense of balance. Here, hints of black have been introduced to the organic aesthetic through the table legs, dining chairs, and artwork and magazine rack in the background. These details are just enough to add depth to the scheme, contrasting and complementing the other neutral tones and packing a light punch without being overbearing.

3. Black and Brown

Luxury apartment interior

Combine black with brown for a moody yet mature and sophisticated aesthetic. The best way to incorporate these rich, intense shades is through mixed material, creating depth and contrast through layers of texture. Introduce brown with wood-paneled flooring, a leather armchair, or a soft rug. Pops of natural green accents, like indoor plants or a striking accent plant wall, lighten and freshen up the intense, full-bodied scheme.

4. Black and Olive Green

Green black living room details

Black and olive green fill a room with organic, contemporary elegance. Olive green has a warm, earthy undertone that evokes tranquility, security, and comfort. Adding modern black furniture to an otherwise natural scheme instantly updates the space and lends a touch of sophistication. Balance out dark green and black shades with light-toned neutrals, like ecru, a pale taupe, or wood textures like maple, ash, or white oak.

5. Black and Navy

Dark bedroom interior

Black and navy make a moody and mysterious pair. Dark like the night sky, their depth can feel intimidating to some, yet cozy and comforting to others. Their high intensity and dramatic impact make this color combination best suited to large rooms with a good amount of natural light. This will prevent the scheme from falling from elegant and sophisticated to outright dark and dingy. Dark colors on the wall can make a small space feel even smaller. Use these cocooning qualities to your advantage in a snug bedroom.

6. Black and Gray

Stylish scandinavian home

Combine black with gray for a more gentle and contemporary take on classic black and white. To succeed with a monochromatic palette, it's essential to include a broad spectrum of tones from light to dark to prevent the space from falling flat. Add a black armchair to a room full of tonal grays to add depth and strength of character. Layer textures and use accessories, like rugs and scatter cushions, to introduce patterns and create further visual interest.

7. Black and Yellow

Chalkboard wall and yellow details

Adding a bright pop of yellow to a black room is one way to create an instant wow factor! The bold look is not for the faint-hearted or a room intended for rest and relaxation, like a bedroom. Yellow is a high-energy and happy color, though it can be too bright and intense when used in excess. Tone it down with light gray shades for a more liveable aesthetic.

8. Black and Gold

Black and gold posters in grey bedroom

Black and gold are synonymous with glamor and high-end luxury. Both colors are commonly individually used as accents. Together they reach even more potential, working magic to elevate a scheme through accessories or striking furniture pieces. However, they make an even bigger impression when used as the protagonists of a scheme. Warm, metallic golden tones create high contrast against a black backdrop, brightening up and adding dynamism to a dark space with its light-bouncing qualities. Incorporate dazzling glamor with gold light fixtures, striking wall decor, a gilt mirror, or metallic furnishings.

9. Black and Dusty Pink

Fashionable living room

Dusty pink caresses black with warm, loving affection, while black lends its confidence and steadfast nature to dusty pink. Dusty pink is a mature, elegant shade that instantly softens a space and creates an inviting, restful ambiance. Tone down the high contrast effect by introducing soft gray tones or refreshing green accents. Implement the 60-30-10 rule to create a harmonious color balance.

Interesting Facts About the Color Black

  • Black is not actually a color. It is an achromatic shade that results from the absence or complete absorption of visible light.

  • In Western cultures, black symbolizes loss, sadness, and depression. It is traditionally worn at funerals or by those in mourning.

  • The word black comes from the Old English 'blæc', meaning dark and ink.

  • In the Bible, the color black symbolizes suffering, death, and deceit.

  • Priests and monks wear black robes as a symbol of repentance and humility.

  • In Ancient Egypt, black symbolized life, rebirth, and the underworld.

  • In Ancient Greece, black also represented the underworld.

  • Black was the first color used to make art, created with charcoal, and later burnt bones and ground manganese powder.

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