WE all agree black is useful. Most women have a faithful little black dress and most men an outfit that will pass as black tie.
It’s chic, more forgiving than brighter, lighter shades. And we are increasingly coming around to it in the home.
Demand for artwork in black is also up and the National Gallery has a new exhibition — “Monochrome: Painting In Black And White”, which seems to reflect the current trend.
“Black looks set to be the new neutral for 2018,” says Victoria Atkin, co-founder of furniture specialists Atkin and Thyme (atkinandthyme.co.uk). “Light colours are transformed against a black backdrop,” she adds.
So how do you go about taking the plunge? Black is a dramatic colour, says Dara Huang, founder of Design Haus Liberty, who uses it to create a sense of mood. “Painting walls black is very stylish,” she says.
Black walls set furniture off to wonderful effect. “A mustard sofa against a black wall looks magnificent,” she adds. Black is neutral so most colours work well with it. However, because it absorbs light, in a living room it’s best to paint only one or two walls black.
Bathrooms are a different matter. “I just painted an entire guest bathroom black,”says Huang. She advises accessorising dark walls with eye-catching paintings framed in gold or white.
If seamless black isn’t your style you can still get the look. Interior designer Joanna Wood uses wallpapers with bold prints on black backgrounds.
“Black was hugely popular during the Regency period and into the Victorian era because it symbolised both wealth and elegance,” she says.
It has to be said, black walls won’t suit every home. “A cosy little cottage with low ceilings couldn’t take the intensity of black walls,” says Wood. “Black suits urban settings, stylish apartments, or town houses.”
For smaller homes, black on skirting boards, cornices and interior doors adds flair without being overwhelming. Black flooring is more versatile and experiencing a surge in popularity, according to Jason Ashby, of UK Flooring Direct (ukflooringdirect.com).
If an entire floor in black feels like a step too far, then there are some beautifully sensuous black rugs on the market.
Andrew Frith, director of Frith Rugs (frithrugs.co.uk), says black rugs are selling well this year.
The Victorians adored black lacquered furniture imported from the East. “It was associated with wealth, travel and sophistication,” says Joanna Wood.
Test your tolerance for black by investing in a single piece in the colour, such as Shanxi Curio Cabinet black Lacquer, at shimu.co.uk.
Or look at Vinterior, a website specialising in vintage design furniture (vinterior.co.uk).
Black leather is also experiencing a revival. Popular in the Seventies, it suffered a dip in the style stakes but, it’s back.
Matt Deighton, of Sofas by Saxon (sofasbysaxon.com), says they’ve expanded their range of Chesterfields in black leather to keep up with demand.
The popularity of black is due in large part to the ease with which the sofa can be accessorised. Everything from lightest cream throws to vibrant yellow or blue cushions looks great against black.
And, of course, leather is easy to keep clean. “It doesn’t stain or scratch, and although black shows up dust, all you need is a feather duster,” says Wood.
Jayson Branch, creative director at radiator specialists Castrads (castrads.com), credits the increase in customers choosing dark finishes for their radiators with the rise in industrial chic.
If black makes you feel gloomy, then nod to the trend with tableware such as Habitat’s Noir Graphite collection at habitat.co.uk.