It could be just Halloween madness, or the inspiration of my pussy oak dresser with its pseudo-Tudor pretence at ebony, but this weekend I’m determined to paint my hallway soft black.
Black in large quantities over walls and floors seems to fly in the face of everything we know in terms of true colour. It devours natural and artificial light whole in large, spirit sucking bites.
In a dark matt or even semi-sheen, it’s an interstellar black hole, and there’s no doubt it has a presence that can spook surrounding shades into a corner. Entire walls in raven black are an exceptional success in statement luxury. The only place pure pitch generally works is amongst the shrieks and groans down at the Nightmare Realm experience on Albert Quay.
I’m not going to hold your hand here — get it wrong with any inky choice and the results will be nothing short of frightening. Visually, black is a highly active addition. Black and white tap dance together — a visual rat-tat-tat of stark contrast that’s not for everyone. Above all, when added to walls and floors, black eliminates the edges of the room, allowing everything to sit up and all but float.
In the right soft choice, (a dark olive-stone pigment), it’s not gloomy but as comforting as a black Aran geansaí. Dominating black is the ultimate backdrop, inviting accent colours to explode to the foreground like festival fireworks.
In a kitchen, pure white ware looks sensational staged on shelves finished in black back-boards. Wallpapers offer everything from illustrative etchings (Next, Etched Trail €26 a roll/Harlequin Shore) to bold botanics (Kiely Small Acorn Cup 110415 from €50/ Feathergrass 2015 collection from Farrow & Ball €145).
We never talk about just one colour in interiors. A group of colours in a choice of volumes is what makes a room. Furniture, well chosen, can be as black as you like and will sing in many schemes. Look out for the resurgence of mid-century-inspired smoked glass to black veneers and laminates.
Orange, verdant green and blue work magically with black in combination. Black leather, gifted by the Italians and crucial to the bachelor landscape, never went out of style. Tiles in ceramic and stone tones can go from inky black to tones of green/grey, to the midnight of a carbon-heavy stone.
Black limestone, marble, granite and quartz composites are almost inevitable in a high-end kitchen, despite the endless polishing demanded of a glossy black counter.
Even a gorgeous black resin bath, balanced with great lighting, offers heavenly sophistication. Internationally-renowned interior designer and hotelier, Anouska Hempel, has made the use of black on a large scale her signature style and in her hands, it evokes limitless luxury.
Wendy Shaw, marketing executive and a colour specialist with Irish paint makers. Colortrend, argues that we really don’t have to fear going into the dark.
“Think of black as a backdrop that allows artwork and accessories to shine. Using black behind the bed in a bedroom, as well as accenting with carefully chosen accessories — the black wall doesn’t overwhelm, but creates a calming atmosphere in the space.
“Create a comforting and cosy space by marrying a black feature wall with crisp neutrals, beautiful pinks and inviting golds,” she advises.
True jet black is not the only story in a leading colour. Look up the intriguing wallpapers, floorboards and paints in indulgent sloe blacks, and black softened with a gentle hint of purple. Little Greene’s ‘Chimney Brick’ is magical with any mid-grey.
Classic, sophisticated and crisp? The blue-black of a raven’s wing, an old blackboard or curls of burnt newspaper are invoked by Farrow & Ball’s ‘Railings’ and Colortrend’s ‘Grafton Port’.
Shale black has a hint of the warming green you can find in slate roofing tiles or at the base of dewy cushion moss — try Valpar ‘La Fonda Nightfall’ or Farrow & Ball’s ‘Off Black’. A brown-black recalls the warmth of turf, and is woody and inviting — Crown’s ‘Elegant Mascara’ comes close, as does Colortrend’s ‘Brindle Path’. Prices vary with finish and quantity from €20-€75 per litre.
Cork-based interior designer Jane Dennehy, is known for her fearless use of line and colour in her signature interiors and recently returned from the much-lauded Colour Futures launch by Dulux in London.
“This September they launched a key trends for 2016 entitled, ‘Celebrating the Night’ which embraces the importance of darkness in our interiors.”
Intrigued? Well here are Jane’s top tips for stepping into the dark without losing any of the joy:
* Firstly, follow the 60-30-10 rule. 60% the wall colour, 30% the upholstery and 10% the accessories which provides that little touch of sparkle.
* Make a choice — should black be used as a neutral, accent, or as a main colour? n Go for deep and rich blocks of colour, for maximum impact. But keep the flooring and other furnishings light and neutral.
* Small or dark rooms need particular care, as these colours will definitely make your room feel darker and smaller. So why not paint the doors the darker colour and leave the walls neutral.
* Add an accent colour, which will really lift your scheme — a splash of zingy lime green or gold to make the perfect finishing touch.
* Incorporate a bit of black that can also be useful — consider chalkboard paint on an accent wall.
* Throw in some large mirrors to reflect light.