Black living room ideas: decorating inspiration for daring dark schemes

Take a thoughtful approach to decorating with on-trend shades of black

Decorating with black in any room is not for the faint-hearted. But with the right guidance shades of darkness can be chic for all spaces, especially black living room ideas to create a space that intrigues and cocoons.

'Black can be an incredibly glamorous and sophisticated choice for a living room' says Patrick O’Donnell, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) Brand Ambassador. 'Something as dark as this can create a cosy and intimate space - ideal if your room is starved of natural light as it will lend itself to the disadvantages of aspect.'

Black living room ideas

'Rules in decorating are there to be broken or at least manipulated' says Patrick. 'It’s all about experimentation- how will you ever know if something works or not unless you try?'.

'Don’t be limited to the traditional four walls- the ceiling, your fifth wall is often overlooked in decorating and taking the colour over can add sublime drama' he advises.

1. Fashion a divide with black and white

Monochrome living room, turquoise armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

Create a room divide with a creative living room paint idea, with black dominating the bottom half of the wall with a neutral shade above. This monochromatic scheme helps to fake the impression of a traditional dado rail, where architrave divides the room in two to invite artistic expression with the decor.

You don't have to have a period property to get this look, in fact all you need is masking tape! Simply tape a straight line and paint the two sections of wall in contrasting colours, with black on the bottom half to anchor the wider design element within the room.

2. Welcome warm undertones to soften black

Paean black living room with wooden design armchair

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Black paint has many hidden depths, it doesn't have to mean true black – if you're seeking warmth from your walls. 'While the thought of painting a room in black or more nuanced versions of ‘black’ sounds terrifying, it can act as a superb colour choice' Patrick explains.

'Think nuanced blacks rather than pure, pitch-black as they appear slightly softer – from the blue-based Railings and Black Blue to the smokier charcoal Off Black and warmer tones of Paean Black.'

Rich Paean Black offers underlying purple tones, to create a cosy and undeniably chic aesthetic. Consider this depth of black to update purple living room ideas.

3. Anchor the bold colour to one wall

black living room wall with black iron fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

If you're not quite brave enough to take on Patrick's suggestion of all walls and ceilings, we suggest dedicating just one wall to this daring shade. One wall will still offer a superbly dominant splash of colour to make a statement. Even better if you have a cast iron fire surround that will seamlessly blend into the black backdrop. Alternatively you could paint the fire surround to incorporate it into the black wall.

We'd go one step further than this homeowner and pain the skirting boards in black too, to take the colour entirely from floor to ceiling.

4. Cocoon a snug in all-black

Black living room with arched glass doors leading to open plan dining and kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Veronica Rodriguez)

In a room with a good source of natural light for day times you can afford to go all in with an entirely black room – leaving just the ceiling in contrasting white. Painting all walls in a deep saturated colour, such as black, creates an all immersive experience – a cocooning atmosphere.

'Be brave and use the colour on all four walls and even include the skirting' suggests Patrick. 'Including the woodwork will elongate your wall height and draw less attention to a sharp contrast of the traditional white trim.'

This ambience is ideal for an entertainment snug, where you are looking to escape into a world of boxsets and movies.

5. Add thoughtful lighting

black living room with brown leather sofa and black lamps

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

To prevent this strikingly bold shade from feeling flat look to add living room lightning ideas aplenty, to ensure it's well highlighted and ambient.

'Think about the time of day you will be using the room – black absorbs light, so can create a truly, cosseting environment' explains Patrick. 'You will most probably be dependent on artificial lighting if it is a room used during the day, especially if the room is starved of natural light.'

6. Pick out design details in black

grey living room with black painted alcove and black fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Use Black as a bold accent colour to pick out architectural detail, such as cornicing; fire surrounds and bespoke display and storage alcove ideas. This dramatic hue will add drama to your living room scheme, celebrating the finer details in all their glory.

Any neutral living room idea will benefit from this dark colour pairing, especially muted grey living rooms where the black tones are already present.

7. Paint the woodwork in black to frame the room

Living room with grey wallpapered walls and black painted doors and picture rails with black sofa and black armchairs

(Image credit: Sweetpea & Willow)

'If black walls feel overwhelming, consider another decorative motif such as painting all your woodwork in black or off black with lighter walls' advises Patrick. 'This can feel effortlessly sophisticated.'

As this fine example of a sitting rooms shows, with its grey textured wallpapered walls and black woodwork accents. The furniture echoes the powerful tones of black to create a cohesively stylish colour scheme throughout. Grey carpet helps to keep the floor light and offsets the darker tones within the scheme.

8. Zone with a bold feature wall

open plan living room with black feature wall with modern fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Give a dividing wall a powerful prominence with a strong shade, such as this black feature wall. The colour helps to cleverly zone the area, making the wall present and purposeful to divide the two living areas within an open-plan space.

The strong shade is echoed through the doors frames that connect to the outside, helping to create a flow throughout the space.

9. Make a style statement with true black

black painted fireplace wall by dulux

(Image credit: Dulux)

A true black is as bold as it gets. This colour is devoid of other pigments, making it a flat true colour that works well in small doses – if you're not feeling brave enough for painting entire walls. A true black feature wall is just the thing to enhance a white living room idea, such as this fine example.

Add wooden tones through flooring and furniture to naturally add a warming quality to this bold colour.

10.  Go for on-trend blue black

blue black walls in living room

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Try something slightly gentler, which feels more shaded and charcoal-like but strong than an existing blue living room idea. 'Our perennially popular Railings ticks many boxes with its subtle underlying blue note' suggests Patrick.  'Or for something that packs bluer (we all love dark blues right now) is our stunning archive colour Black Blue.'

11. Enhance bold botanical prints

Living room feature wall with large floral mural

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

Darker toned paint colours are ideal for highlighting the bold tones of floral and fauna. Whether natural house plants or painterly florals on wallpaper and wall murals, welcome black as the perfect backdrop to make the bold accent colours really pop!

Bright jewel toned furniture in rich velvets are beautifully offset by bold black walls, as this fine example shows.

12. Add interest with a striped wallpaper

Black and silver striped wallpaper feature wall behind sofa in living room

(Image credit: Future PLC/Amanda Turner)

Soften the impact of black, without taking away its style credentials by welcoming a wallpaper design that features black – but is not overpowered by the shade. This sophisticated stripe design features black strips softened by accents of silver. Metallic touches within the design will help to reflect light and give the wallpaper more depth.

When using a statement wallpaper design it's best to create a living room feature wall. Choose a wall that anchors the room, so a dominant wall – whether that's the wall with the sofa or a wall with a chimney breast and fireplace. This will depend on your living room layout and how you choose to arrange your furniture.

Is black a good colour for living rooms?

Black is a good colour for living rooms to create a glamorous and sophisticated colour scheme, that feels very on-trend. A colour as dark as black on the walls welcomes a cosy, ambient and intimate space ideal for livings rooms – where the space is dedicated to feeling comfort.

Black is especially good if you have a small living room idea, one that is starved of natural light as it lends itself to the disadvantages of aspect. Making the small space feel intentional, cocooning rather than limiting.

How can I use black in my living room?

You can welcome black paint to your living room scheme for dramatic impact. 'If painting your walls feels a step too far, consider painting all your woodwork, including doors, architraves, and windows in Black instead' suggest Farrow & Ball's Patrick. 'Dark woodwork will frame walls beautifully and is a sophisticated compromise.'

You can paint all four walls for a dramatic impact, or choose to create a feature with one dominant black wall.

What colour goes with black in a living room?

Colours that go with black in a living room are very much determined by the look you wish to create and where you want to use colour. On walls white, off-white and neutral tones are best to create a monochromatic contrast against black. Light grey also helps to offset the darkness of black.

Colours that go with black in terms of furniture are best in brighter accents of jewel tones of emerald green, burnt orange and sapphire blue. For a monochrome scheme choose to add warmth with leather furniture or further the contrast with grey or taupe upholstered sofas and armchairs.

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.