Black paint colors have emerged as a go-to choice in kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and more. Learn how to choose the best black paint colors with tips from interior designers and paint professionals.

By Jessica Bennett
April 21, 2021
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Black used to be one of the least popular picks at the paint store. The dark hue has an unfair reputation for making rooms feel gloomy and cramped, characteristics most people don't want in a home. However, homeowners and designers alike are beginning to see that the potential of this once-contentious color isn't so dreary after all. Instead, black is stepping into the light as a trendy paint color that delivers drama and striking modern style.

black and white modern kitchen
Credit: David Tsay

"People are craving deep and moody colors after a decade filled with whites and light grays," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "The color black has the power to act as a bold yet neutral backdrop that suits a variety of tastes and finishes, so we're seeing it enter the home in spaces we might typically not have seen before, such as dining rooms, bedrooms, and even spa-like bathrooms."

Black has also become a popular paint color choice for kitchen cabinets, living room accent walls, ceilings, window trim, and even exteriors. "Black exteriors are just so different from what has been done in the past and people are gravitating toward this surprising and modern look, even on traditional-style homes," Wadden says.

Indoors, black paint defies many of its previous assumptions. Instead of making small rooms feel claustrophobic, dark wall colors tend to recede, making a tight space appear larger than it actually is, says Toronto-based designer Rebecca Hay. In reality, the effect is more comforting than oppressive or gloomy. "Objects tend to fade into a dark background and so spaces with black tend to feel less chaotic and more soothing," Hay says.

nightstand black white bedroom
Credit: David A Land

How to Choose Black Paint Colors

Black paint colors come in a wide variety of shades and finishes. Use these tips to choose the best black paint color for your home.

Consider the undertones.

"The trick to selecting black colors is to pay close attention to its undertones," says Lance Thomas of Lousiana-based Thomas Guy Interiors. Black is simply a dark version of another color, so look at the lighter shades on the paint strip to determine the underlying hue. Natural light brings out these undertones, so consider them carefully before making your decision. Black paint colors with green undertones, for example, can help encourage productivity and creativity in an office, while purple-toned blacks lend themselves to restful bedroom retreats, Thomas says.

Black and white bathroom
Credit: James Nathan Schroder

Keep finish in mind.

The paint finish is another key consideration with dark colors like black. Flat or matte finishes, for instance, will soak up light and contribute to a cozy, intimate feel. These sheens also work well for disguising wall scuffs and imperfections. High-gloss paint adds shine and glamor, but these sheens should be reserved for smooth, unblemished surfaces, Wadden notes. "Overall, a satin finish helps black reflect light and gives the color a little bit of life," she says.

black and white living room
Credit: John Bessler

Best Black Paint Colors

If you're still stuck on which shade to choose, try one of these expert-approved black paint colors.

Tricorn Black SW 6258, Sherwin-Williams

Wadden notes that Tricorn Black consistently lands in Sherwin-Williams' bestselling paint colors. "It's a striking, true black that sets the tone and modernizes any space," she says. Pair this intense shade with natural textures and greenery for bold contrast. Wadden also suggests trying it on a front door or shutters for a "sophisticated and classic focal point."

black bedroom with white bed and nightstand
Credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Hay Designs

Racoon Fur 2126-20, Benjamin Moore

Hay calls Benjamin Moore's Racoon Fur her go-to black paint color because of its "soft richness." She often uses this shade in bedrooms and small spaces. "Sometimes it's best to embrace the coziness of a small room, and black causes the space to envelop you," Hay says.

Inkwell SW 6992, Sherwin-Williams

Colorado-based interior designer Laura Umansky of Laura U Design Collective is a fan of the drama of Inkwell by Sherwin-Williams. "I love a room with a lot of contrast and this dark, inky shade pairs well with brighter whites and ivories," she says. Use it as a backdrop to highlight a striking piece of wall decor. "In spaces where you don't need a ton of light for tasks, it can create a cozy and warm space that allows for your favorite piece of art to shine," Umansky says.

Peppercorn SW 7674, Sherwin-Williams

If full black seems a little too intense, opt for a color that verges on dark gray. Detroit-based designer Candace Griffin of Candace Mary Interiors calls Peppercorn "the perfect compromise of a deep gray paint and a black." The classic color brings a moody touch to bedrooms, dining rooms, or powder rooms. Griffin suggests pairing it with contrasting colors such as Snowbound SW 7004 or Alabaster SW 7008.

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