Mad About … Painting It Black

My love of grey paint is not entirely news to you, but recently I have been thinking of taking it a step further.

charcoal grey walls
the madaboutthehouse sitting room as featured on

This is my sitting room as photographed recently for the platform. The walls are painted in Farrow & Balls’s  Downpipe as are the library shelves at the other end of the room and, indeed, the shelves in the kitchen (you can see all those rooms by clicking the link above.

black walls from
black walls from

But I am finding myself drawn to its darker cousin – black. I have written before about the stunning effect that black windows and black doors can have on a property. But now I think it’s time for the walls.

black kitchen belonging to marianne brandi of
black kitchen belonging to marianne brandi of

Consider adding accents of black paint throughout your home. It doesn’t make the room dark and dingy. On the contrary it brings in a sense of warmth to a space and helps to define it.

black walls and rustic wood kitchen
black walls and rustic wood kitchen from

Pair it with soft brass or hammered gold, an old rug and the odd houseplant (yes plants are back) and the effect is simple, stunning and dramatic.

black walls aren't dark (via Pinterest)
black walls aren’t dark (via Pinterest)

Take a look at some of these and see what you think. You’ll notice that in many cases the other common denominator is a large, lush houseplant.

black door by lincoln barber for jessica helgerson interior design
black door by lincoln barber for jessica helgerson interior design

They are taken by Lincoln Barbour for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. I found her website a few weeks ago and am drawn to nearly all her projects. Do visit her website to see what else she has done.

black panelling from
black panelling from

The team is based in Portland, Oregon but has worked in New York, San Francisco and Alaska.

library house by black beams black and brass lights
the library house project accented the space by painting the beams black.

However, if the thought of black walls makes you feel a little nervous, take a look at the kitchen below. There are just a couple of black accents to anchor the scheme.

black wall lights metro tiles gold sofa by
small black details are just as effective

I’m definitely coveting a gold velvet sofa now. And look how great a whole wall of metro tiles is.

metro tiles black shelves
metro tiles and industrial lighting

If you look very closely and you’ll see that the pans are hanging on a wonderful brass rail. Details people details. Touch points and eye level. Remember that if nothing else.

image from my pinterest board
image from my pinterest board

To see more black walls and details visit my Pinterest Board







Tags : black accentsblack doorsblack paintblack windowsbrassmetro tiles
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Black can make such a fantastic statement in a room providing a look of effortless style. That combined with white walls and rustic features and I am in style heaven!

  2. I’ve used Farrow & Ball Off Black on several pieces of furniture in the bedroom. I did so tentatively at first, but I love it so much that I’m feeling emboldened to go much further and paint floors or a ceiling in it too. Off Black is the new Down Pipe!

  3. I love these black walls, they are very effective but would not look well in my house. However for many many years on a number of projects I have used black or, slightly more forgiving but only you’ll know, a very very near black charcoal grey on oddments where some sort of neutral was needed. It has never failed as a technique because often black or nearest black is a paint available for any surface from heat resistant for log burners, through matt paint for steel or old cast iron to ordinary interior paints. It’s such a good answer to a myriad of ‘problem areas’ with the added advantage of going with everything. the LBD of the interiors world.

    Great post about a great trick!

    1. Such useful information thank you so much. I know exactly what you mean about deep black too. A friend of mine has just painted her stairs in Farrow & Ball Off Black, which is still black but somehow softer and looks great.

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