Black furniture is a strong design statement, so the rest of the room has to coordinate with it or your decor declares all-out war. Select paint colors for the living room walls carefully to ease that standout furniture into the look you want. The historical period of your decor and the typical use of the room are main considerations in choosing paint. Don’t be afraid to add some equally strong or rich color to balance black furniture or emphasize the mood in your living room.
A living room that features black furniture doesn’t have to default to white for everything else. Cover the walls in a soft matte gray to define the furniture without high contrast. Ornately carved or spare modern black furniture is elegant in a gray room with white or ivory trim, neutral accessories and drapes, and hidden mood lighting. Pick up the pace in a modern space with a stark black and white abstract carpet. Go for a muted oriental rug in shades of ivory and gray in a room with a Victorian or Chinese ebony sofa, tables and chairs.
Antique or collectible black furniture shows off its good design against pale powder blue or lilac walls. The pastel wall color lets trophy furniture or heritage pieces shine, but contributes to a relaxed ambiance in the room. A mix of small patterns on upholstery and throw pillows, and a precisely geometric area rug keep the look balanced and tranquil. The opposite approach works in a living-family room that houses a high-energy tribe. Paint the wall behind the casual black-framed sofa midnight blue, and wrap the surrounding walls and ceiling in ghostly blue. A charcoal gray flat-weave carpet will take a lot of punishment and still look presentable. Use lots of lighting for drama: black-shaded wall scones for glamorous uplighting; a central chandelier of scrambled wires and bare bulbs; angled adjustable floor lamps for reading.
Colonial to Contemporary
Black painted traditional Colonial furniture invites you to play with wall color to create different effects. A living room set with an upholstered sofa, black spindle-back or Windsor chairs, a painted wood coffee table and primitive cupboard looks like a page out of history with deep blue or barn red walls. Offset the dark shades with a light grass floor mat, bright cushions or rush seats on the chairs, and a gleaming brass chandelier. A modern room with low black-framed furniture seems spacious and uncluttered when you contrast the darker furnishings with plenty of white on the walls and ceiling, white curtains and white trim. Hang a large, framed panel of blackboard paint over the mantel with white chalk scribbles that look like a Cy Twombly painting.
Dark-Accented Gallery Room
Ebony furniture is dramatic and can be really stunning in the right space. Consider a pale floor and ivory or white walls for your living room to let the lines of the pieces star. Keep it fairly monochrome, with trim to match the matte wall paint so the background to your theatrical furnishings acts like gallery space. Make it a real gallery space by interspersing furniture with carved wood ethnic sculptures collected on your travels; dark natural wood and black stained or painted sculptures look stunning in a curated room. But add an element of mysterious color to keep things from being too bland. “Elle Decor” magazine suggests painting the underside of black or dark tables red. The vivid hue — and you could as easily choose an explosive orange or rust — will reflect softly on the light floors, energizing the room with a note of stealth color.
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