Renewed interest in the western world’s traditional colour of loss, mourning and death is turning into a trend gain, with luxury home builders reporting jet, ebony, and ink tones appearing everywhere from architectural exteriors to kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and bedrooms.
Renowned architects are taking black to new heights. In one example, FFAT House in Vila Nova Gaia, Portugal is deliberately designed like a black fortress by Arquitectos Anonimos to defend inhabitants against neighbours in too-close proximity. The dark facade serves as protection from the outside world, and even utlises black covers to close off the windows. The enclosing effect is however counterpointed by a beautiful roof terrace with expansive views of the sea, while inside the house skylights are used to maximise the entry of natural light into the home.
The negative associations that black might hold of the unknown and even the occult, or simply of more banal but nevertheless undesirable connotations of soot and dirt, quickly vanish when its more positive allure becomes a focus. Think of a beautiful black lacquer bowl from ancient Japan, or a carved ebony head from Africa, or the rough charm and texture of naturally occurring rocks such as basalt, and black’s appeal sharpens into view.
Many new custom home builders say black is in demand for good reason. Because black absorbs light, it has an extraordinarily powerful presence in a domestic setting. It’s pure, clean, and startling.
Like its polar opposite white, black offers immutable purity. There’s nothing wishy-washy about it, and it can be counterpointed by other colours and textures to amazing effect: in architectural terms think timber, pale rough-hewn stone or concrete, copper and brass elements, even the greenery of planting gains new hyper-real delineation and force when partnered with midnight black.
Interior decorators working with custom builders report that the colour adds confidence and class to schemes: a matte black feature wall gives a bedroom or a living room extraordinary visual punch. Black is bold. It’s daring and its gravitational -pull draws focus to it like no other colour. Teamed with cream or white, its clean lines are heightened. Executed in natural textures its unexpected softness, even cosiness comes through.
And of course, just as white gave birth to Magnolia, there are numerous shades of black available on the market in brown, pink, blue or olive tones that can work back with the overall palette of the home.
As one expert in the custom designed homes sector remarked however, black does need to be used smartly.
“The great thing about black is the depth it can add to a scheme. However, it needs to be used for emphasis and drama rather than as an overall theme. Black and white are great complements to each other, but they are of course opposites. White reflects light and can add a sense of space when used generously. Black is the opposite. It draws light in and can drain a space if over-used.”
“To make the most of interior black, paint a small area in pure, undiluted black for instant impact. It works well for small spaces between rooms such as hallways but it can also be used in principle rooms to create a focal point. If you’re using black to decorate, you’ve got to use it as an anchor that can then be echoed throughout the home. So you might have a couple of major black elements such as walls or a black island bench in the kitchen, or a black bath, and then tie these in to other smaller black elements throughout the house; a black stair-rail, black doors, and black interior décor elements such as rugs, vases and artworks.
It seems black is the new black for quality home builders. “For exterior architecture, black stone, even black or black painted brick, black concrete and wonderful black stained timber are all great materials to work with. In classic homes this can be offset by fresh white paintwork, while in modern homes, the clean lines and edges look absolutely fantastic executed in black. In particular, contemporary homes with generous glazing that can be ‘lit from within’ look great in black, especially if there is ample planting and greenery around the property.”