Black is one of those design colors that can be easily forgotten. So often, people ignore black as a design color, but black can be one of the most useful colors in your decorating toolbox.

Why black?

Black is a neutral color that pairs well with other colors. Black is also a color that works well as an accent color and also can add a sense of luxury and elegance to a space. Black works in many instances because it serves as a foundation color to build a color palette.

How to use black

Black is a popular color in home decor that can be found in various products from appliances, cabinetry, finishes and trims to goods such as toss pillows, throws, lamp shades and furniture.

One of the most effective ways to use black is to incorporate it using a decorating tool called color mapping. Color mapping is a technique in which one repeats or “maps” a color throughout a space. For example, instead of just having a room with two black lampshades on table lamps, you also have black pillows and perhaps a black throw as well.

Colors that blend with black

Want to use colors that blend with black?

Believe it or not, what tops the list is white. Black and white is a classic color combination that can be used in both traditional and modern environments.

Pair this color combination with wood or bold, bright colors such as red for an added edge.

Looking for other colors? Think contrast. Black works well with soft colors such as pastels, as well as warm colors that include red, orange and yellow.

Mistakes to avoid

As with any color, be thoughtful about your selection and use of black. It actually may be hard to overdo it, if your palette is thoughtful and purposeful. Even if your desire is to use a large amount of black, be sure to use light contrast colors as accents.

Design Recipes tips

1. Don’t be afraid to use black as the primary color for your color story.

2. When using black in larger areas such as a wall color or large pieces of furniture, also add contrast elements that are light (the lighter the better — even white) as contrast elements will help ensure the black stands out.

3. Be sure to use color mapping to repeat the use of black throughout your space.

Cathy Hobbs is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert. Visit her website at

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