Go to the Dark Side: Decorating With Black

Little Green Notebook

Dear Ruth,
Black is a favorite color of mine and I’d like to incorporate it into my home, but I’m intimidated!  Can you offer any suggestions?
Rebecca G., Englewood, CO

Hi, Rebecca. Black is a favorite of mine, too, and there are several ways to decorate your home with black—some subtle, some bold.

Cole & Sons wallpaper

I’ve never met a wallpapered wall that I didn’t like. I know what you’re thinking: black wallpaper? The answer is yes, but discretion is key. Use paper with hints of black and work in a small area like a powder room or accent wall, so you’re not overwhelmed.

The investment can be relatively low given you’re only committing to small spaces, but the aesthetic return is high. You can downplay the boldness by using a white trim and baseboard, or intensify it by painting them black. You can also ease into your relationship with black by papering the wall above a chair rail in a dining room and painting the area beneath the rail white or another light color to offset the black above.

Fabric is another fun way to incorporate the color throughout your home. You can either upholster a statement chair or couch, as seen above, or choose a fabric for throw pillows and draw the black out of it by using black piping. 

Schumacher fabric

I love using a contrast welt on both pillows and furniture because it adds such a unique dimension and really makes the piece pop.

[Photo: Little Green Notebook]

Lastly, I am a huge fan of black painted walls or doors. My go-to paint color for walls is Farrow and Ball’s Off Black; it’s not too black (if that makes sense) but packs a punch and adds an exclamation point to any room.

Bottom line—don’t be afraid to experiment and trust your gut. If you love black, you’ll love it even more woven throughout your home. 

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Got a design question?  Ask Ruth!  

Ruth SonnensheinRuth's style has always been a perfect mixture of high and low, pairing flea market finds with new gems to create a wonderful balance and a well lived-in space.  


Having grown up in Denver, Ruth stayed close to home while studying Apparel and Merchandising at Colorado State University before moving to New York City to start a career in magazines, followed by a tenure in Los Angeles where she was an editorial and celebrity wardrobe stylist. 


Whether curating a client's wardrobe or making a room in their home come to life, Ruth's ability to pair old with new, add infusions of color and dimension and maintain an overall understanding of each individual's sensibility has made her transition from wardrobe to interior design a natural progression. 


Ruth now resides in Denver with her husband, three children and two Brussels Griffons. 

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