Black To The Basics

Trying to figure out what is the next thing after greys? I have had at least 3 family members ask me this week what is the new ‘it’ paint color, and it’s only Wednesday. They are all working on some sort of update and are on a budget. They fear picking what is hot now, only for it to be flamed out in a year. It is not an irrational fear.

Poking around in Joanna’s closets (I’m not nosey – she asked me to), I came across the quilt that my sister and I made for her more than 30 years ago when she married our brother. Thankfully, Jo’s choice in men has withstood the test of time a lot better than our choice in fabric colors.

What were we thinking? The 2017 me has a hard time reconciling with the 1985 me. I can’t imagine why I ever had a passion for that pink/mauve and blue calico! But at the time I was hooked on it and just knew that she would absolutely adore the color scheme as well. Michele and I lovingly stitched together that gift for our new sister-in-law, knowing she would treasure it forever. And she did – She hung it on the wall of their first apartment! It has followed her through every move since. I’m pretty sure, though, that it is the memory that she is hanging onto, and not the colors of that quilt.

Color  and design can feel like such a big commitment. That’s why we always tell clients and students to stick with the neutrals for your foundation pieces, and then add pops of color in your pillows and accessories. Those are words to live by, my friend, but even ‘neutrals’ have a lifespan.

Classics will outlive trends, which will outlive fads.

White = classic. Grey = trend. Millennium pink = fad.

Our peanut-butter walls of the 90’s had a really good, long run but now they look…well…so 90’s. Greys are still great, but we are on the back end of that trend, so if you go with greys, you may not still love it in 5-10 years.

So the next big color headline we see coming is…drum roll, please…BLACK. Wait, what? Is black even a color? And is it a classic, a trend, or a fad? You ask too many questions! I don’t know….All of the above? All I know is it’s a thing and you are going to start loving it, if you haven’t already.

Like any other great neutral, black works beautifully with just about any other color, making it easy to change it up. Notice the fuschia flower and the crimson rug with the blackMoroccan tile in this design by Alexander Design, as seen in Luxe Interiors + Design.

I recently painted my newly remodeled bath in Sherwin Williams “Tricorn Black” – and that was before I started reading about it – I was probably picking up subliminally on black starting to emerge. Now that I point it out, you will probably realize you have started seeing more of it, too. “Tricorn” is a true black – very safe, with no weird undertones – so you can use it anywhere.

Black interior doors are the perfect backdrop for these modern brass handles.

There are all kinds of other wonderful blacks, though, that lean in one undertone direction or another. Deep, dark indigos can go with just about anything, just like your favorite jeans. I’m crushing on “Black Flame”, named 2018 Color of the Year by PPG.

This vanity I found at Lowe’s for my guest bath has a similar charcoal/blue undertone.

This gorgeous bed was rescued from our staging inventory. Years of abuse had taken their toll, and the original matching side rails had been lost somewhere along the way. The ones we had made to replace them were the wrong color of stain. Storing the curved head and footboards in our warehouse was a logistical nightmare.


Charcoal chalk paint matched up the conflicting finishes, and a bit of intentional distressing disguised the ‘for reals’ distressing.

How about the drama in this amazing green black?

Styling/Creative Direction/ Photography: Lisa Quinn-Schofield & Jody D’Arcy on

Now, let’s get real. You are probably not going to recommend that your staging client paint their living room black, but there are a million other ways to weave more of it into your designs. Veteran designers swear by adding a little black to every room. Ironically, it can actually make the room look brighter because it provides a base-line for contrast. This antique chest of drawers got a new life with a coat of paint and crystal knobs. It fits perfectly into a little nook in my closet.

A word of caution…Be judicious in your use of black. Used in excess, it starts to look too heavy and masculine. A staged home needs to appeal to both genders.

So, how are you planning to bring a touch of the dark side into your staging or design work?