Black Walls in Our Bedroom

There are four bedrooms in the new house. Two on the garden level and then two more on the floor above the living room/dining room/kitchen. It made sense for us to be on the same floor as the girls (who will all be sharing a room for the next couple years at least). The bedrooms…

There are four bedrooms in the new house. Two on the garden level and then two more on the floor above the living room/dining room/kitchen. It made sense for us to be on the same floor as the girls (who will all be sharing a room for the next couple years at least). The bedrooms on the garden level are pretty large and equally sized, but we decided to use that floor as my office (since that floor has an outside entrance) and the other bedroom on that level will be my sister Heather’s, who’s living with us currently.

AB Chao


Chicago Home

The upstairs bedrooms share a bigger, nicer bathroom, which is good, but one of the bedrooms is majorly smaller than the other. There wasn’t even really a choice for us – it makes way more sense for Michael and I to take the small bedroom and to let the girls have the huge 20×15 bedroom. That way there is plenty of room for them to spread out and play. Hopefully the toys will stay mostly upstairs in their room!

So our little ‘master’ bedroom (ha!) is proving to be a bit of a challenge layout-wise. There’s no closet. Or rather, the head of the bed is in the original closet. So we’re going to add a wall of Pax units. There’s also a large hall closet that we can use for additional clothes storage.

I’ve been thinking a lot about painting the walls of the room black. There’s just no getting around how tiny this room is (it’s about 9 x 11 — EDIT: I just double checked the measurements and I was off. It’s about 8×13. Eesh, that’s so narrow!), so I’m just going to work with it and play up the coziness aspect. I’m telling myself (and Michael) it could end up being really restful.

I’m planning to install a lot of new moulding everywhere in the house, including the bedroom. I’d paint the moulding black too though and I think the dimension will be really cool.  I’m hoping with a light rug and white bedding/curtains, and oversized artwork, the mix could be just right with the dark walls.


I never jumped on the black walls bandwagon a couple years ago, but I’m sure a few of you did. So I have a question for you: Do you still like your black walls? And did you paint them flat or glossy? I’m thinking high gloss or even lacquering might be really nice in our tiny room…

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104 thoughts on “Black Walls in Our Bedroom

  1. We have deep dark navy walls in our guest bedroom, with a little bit of a purple undertone, and it is SO restful, it is truly the best place to sleep in the house. I did flat paint so it would feel sort of chalky and moody (and could get away with it since it is a low traffic area.) I love the way it expands the feeling of the room, too. My one compaint/future project: the ceiling is much too white. I'd love to paper it with grasscloth when budget allows.

  2. We painted our kitchen flat black a couple years ago. We still love it and get a lot of compliments on it. My cabinetry has a dark warm stain and its lovely with the black. We went flat due to four little pairs of hands running in and out. But those lacquered walls are gorgeous. Good luck!

  3. In our previous home, we didn't have black walls in our bedroom, but we did have VERY dark charcoal walls. It always provided a nice contrast to any bedding we used. It wasn't a huge room, but felt cool and serene. I'm imagining that black would have the same effect!

  4. Oooo do it! We have a "cozy" bedroom and used Behr's sled, it's the darkest gray without being black. Firstly the room seems so much bigger, the color pushes the walls back and it's so relaxing. Plus every color bedding goes with it and it's nice for afternoon naps.
    I would've loved to have done gloss, but I move art around a lot so patching walls and gloss don't play together well – but two years later we still love the color and say it out loud all the time. That's paint love baby!

  5. And you have to be on the same floor as the girls…why- exactly? Would it be the end of the world if you were NOT on the same floor? Does one of your children require careful monitoring because of health issues? People have lived on separate floors for centuries with no ill effects. I'm sure it would not reflect badly on your parenting skills.

    Take a bigger bedroom for heaven's sakes. 9×11 is ridiculously small. It's the size of my daughter's room. She only has a twin and it's still minute.

    Honestly, I do not understand parents who are this self-sacrificing. It makes no sense. If you paint a room that tiny in black, you're going to feel like you're living in a dungeon come December.

  6. Ooh! I'm loving all these suggestions! Lots of new-to-me colors to check out! Thanks, guys!

    Riverdaughter – We have a two year old and I wouldn't feel comfortable sleeping two full floors down from her. What if I don't hear her crying in the middle of the night and she comes tumbling down the stairs looking for me? It's a real concern and not what I consider self-sacrificing. My husband and I don't need a huge bedroom because we aren't loungers – we just need a comfortable queen sized bed, two night stands and organized clothing storage. This room provides all of these things. No real sacrifice at all! :)

    Catherine – I wish we had another space for a playroom, but every room is being used right now. When my little sister moves out and when the girls are a little older, I think we'll reconfigure the spaces and let them have the whole upstairs and we'll take the downstairs.

  7. We painted one of our guest bedrooms black. Pencil point by Behr in flat. It is by far my favorite room in our house. I sometimes just go and lay in the bed in there just because I love it so much. I don't think you'd regret it.

  8. Two points – definitely agree with the matte finish – the velvet appearance is much more restful, upscale than a gloss finish unless walls are in pristine condition. Understand your concern re your two year old BUT our dream house came available when our daughter was a year old and only the master was downstairs. She quickly learned the rule to always come down the stairs scootching on her little bottom and the baby monitor was a life saver. It truly was never an issue having her upstairs…this coming from an overprotective, first-time mom! Good luck – Ali

  9. I guess I disagree with almost everyone- I think black walls are awesome for hotels, temporary settings but too dark for every day. Maybe it's b/c the winters here are so long and I crave open, light everything. :)

  10. Amy – I havePencil Point on my list now! Can't wait to check it out!

    Ali – Thanks for your note! We'd be two full floors away from Evie if we don't sleep on the same floor. I don't think a baby monitor reaches that far and more importantly it would take me too long to get up there. I'd be worried for my own safety (falling down stairs) in my half-asleep state! I wouldn't even bat an eyelash though if it were only one floor away from the girls. :)

  11. Jenny- two words: baby gate. Add a nightlight if you must turn off the hall light. In fact, you'll probably need a baby gate at the top of the stairs anyway since there is no guarantee that in the hypothetical situation where you 2 year old is stumbling around upstairs that she will automatically find your bedroom. Sleepy children are frequently disoriented.

    Besides, if you put Heather in the small room upstatrs, there will be someone to hear her if she cries and gets up in the middle of the night.

    And from what I can remember when my brother was that age, he never went searching for my mom. He just jumped into bed with my sister or me so you're probably over thinking this.

    Your queen is going to eat that room. It will feel claustrophobic even without the black walls.

    JMHO Moms tend to get pressured to become eternal watchful servants of their children these days as if the umbilical cord never gets cut. I worry that a whole generation of children will be completely disfunctional without their mothers. I suspect it's not healthy.

  12. Hi Jenny! Throwing in my two cents…I've never painted a whole bedroom dark but I just did one wall in Martha Stewart's Plumage (deep dark teal), in my basement bedroom with very little natural light….it's suuuuper cozy at night–reads almost black but with the prettiest peacock tints where the lamps hit it. Have you considered doing a dark dark version of a color (meaning, non-black)? Could be interesting.

    I've also done and loved a blackboard wall–the matte black is lovely, even in my old home with all its imperfections!

    As for picking the smaller room….if you're happy with your decision and feels it's best for your family, good for you! No need to justify your decisions to your readers :)

  13. When I first moved into my 1500 square feet, 2 story condo, I painted the whole place, thinking it would be cool to have a rich dark master bedroom (my room). The results ended up being bearable for the first year (windows face where sun sets. so dark room+sun= STEAM ROOM). so unless you have a really good AC and the sun doesn't turn the room into an oven, I would say go for it.
    I also think that the ceiling should not be painted dark (mistake I made–it made the room feel like a cave. really depressing).

    Hope this is helpful! wish i could of had your two cents two years ago!!

  14. A friend did a tiny bedroom in black to great success. She even painted the impossible high ceiling black so it was a cocoon and not an elevator shaft. She went with flat, which made it seem very soft and inviting. Gloss or lacquer only works on perfect, freshly skim-coated walls, otherwise every little flaw is magnified. Gloss is luxe but not necessarily restful. Be sure to use white and/or metallic accents to offset the black, and be sure that if you go flat, the black is as inky as you can get it.

  15. We painted our tiny bedroom with Farrow and Ball Off Black. Oddly enough, we feel like it makes our room feel bigger, as the walls now seem to recede.

    The Farrow and Ball flat paint has an incredible feel and depth to it. I highly recommend.

  16. Have you considered Farrow and Ball Down Pipe? It's Abigail Ahern's "signature" colour and there are alot of pictures of fab spaces using that colour.

    In terms of room choice absolutely no need to have to justify your reasons to us readers! Whatever works best for your family, I'm sure the post was about what colour black not what room should you have :)

  17. I like the black walls in the photos, but in such a tiny room I think I would feel claustrophobic unless there were a wall of windows to let in lots of light. Especially in the winter – it would be a dark, depressing cave.

  18. I painted one wall black (flat) in our current condo to "mask" the giant black hole that are big-screen TV is. My husband brags about it all the time. :) I do notice dust on it and it's a bit hard to clean and cobwebs are easily visible. But I thin it does make the place look more cozy. As someone else mentioned, I would go with one black wall and see how it looks – maybe the wall behind the bed. I'm sure you'll make it look great, no matter what you end up doing.

  19. Hello. I read your blog all the time but never commented. I just wanted to say you do nit need to justify to your readers why you think it would work best for your family to sleep on one floor or for you to take the smaller room. You are very sweet to do so. Each family needs to find their own way. And it is fine to take a cozy small room.

    On the black room issue, I loved the rooms you posted. Excited to see what you pick. I need a room makeover. Was thinking white but this might be the better way to go.

  20. I think you have a fun blog and post some great stuff but I was pretty disappointed to see that instead of actually crediting the orignial posters of the content you used, you credited a Pinterest board. That's not the same. Even worse, I looked at a pin and it didn't have any credit to the original poster either. If that were my content I'd be pretty pissed. Anway, sorry to be so negative but it really is unfair to the creators of that content. I really do think you have a lovely blog and great ideas though.

  21. Hey Amber,

    Thanks for your note! I totally appreciate where you're coming from. I'll try harder in the future to source out the specific links to images. (I assumed they were all there in the Pinterest links).

    I have to say though, I think this is just the name of the game these days. I say that as someone who gets their original content reposted without credit all the time. It happens and I'm not terribly upset about it, though I respect that other creatives might feel differently, so like I said, I'll try harder to not lean on Pinterest's sources (or lack thereof).

    Thanks for your feedback!


  22. Hey Jenny!
    I LOVE your blog! It's my very favorite design blog and I borrow your ideas and style all the time. As a matter of fact, after our house fire, we rebuilt in the same spot and Better Homes and Gardens is coming in a few weeks to tell our story in pictures! I'm so nervous and excited and can't wait to tell them how design blogs (especially yours!) have changed how people view and decorate their homes. My master bedroom is painted 'graphite' (Ben.Moore) and I love it so much. It's the perfect blend of charcoal/black/navy and in different times of day looks all those different colors. I'm still waiting on some furniture to be delivered but my bedding came from Olatz after you featured Joann's bedroom. I think of you and your beautiful, bold style all the time as I live and work in my home. You are such an inspiration and I'd thought I'd share the room with you, especially since it so reminds me of you:)
    Wishing you love and blessings as you move and can't wait to see how you decorate your new place.
    edie wadsworth

  23. I painted my dining room black about a year ago, and i still LOVE it. it's so dramatic and i really like the cozy and a little bit moody atmosphere. i think it would be great for a bedroom. we used matte black paint, since the walls were very uneven after a wallpaper removal job that just got to be too much! ;) i showed my dining room on my blog, here is the link if you want to take a peek

    i can't wait to see what you decide to do!

  24. I never thought I would like black walls but my son changed my mind. He painted his living room, hallway and bedroom black(he didn't quite finish so I finished it for him)and when I saw it for the first time I loved it. His sister Vanessa + Valentine and I added bamboo shades, black panels, red velvet Louis chairs and a white couch. It was very cozy…

  25. I absolutely love the room we painted dark (Benjamin Moore Soot). The room is small, and has 2 (of 4) walls that are floor to ceiling windows. The dark color is a no brainer. They have been Soot for 2 years, and I would love to paint more rooms dark. Seriously, STILL can't get enough of it! My home has lots of moldings and plaster trim and it looks stunning set next to it.
    I just posted a photo on instagram and tagged you.
    I just love it! GOOOO for it in your bedroom, you won't regret the dark, cozy nest!

  26. I recently recommended dark gray and black for a client's Brooklyn Brownstone, for the den and bedroom respectively. The bedroom was large and could really take a dark color. I know black is trendy, but it does look good. I also presented navy as an option, but, you know, the client is not reading design blogs and could care less, so he chose black. The den was smaller, but also has high ceilings and big windows, so it worked well. I think it looks great in both rooms and crates a cozy atmosphere. The client loves it. A matte finish was used.

    I am currently considering lacquered walls for another client. They are kind of awesome, but we may just go dark and matte due to the labor intensive process of getting a nice, flat shine… paint, sand, paint, sand, etc. – spraying works best, not rolling or brushing. I know some designers have sprayed automotive paint on the walls. I love the look, but to have it done really well may also break the budget – these are old NYC building walls. That said, I think I am going to do it in my small bathroom – a lighter color though. It will be a good DIY lacquer test run without too much effort.

    Looking forward to seeing your end result!

  27. It looks like I'm in the minority here but the idea of black walls is so icky to me! All of those rooms feel like caves to me. Not a fan, but I'll be interested to see if you can change my mind since everything you touch turns to gold!

  28. I had black walls in my tiny en suite in the house I've just sold. I had them for 12 years and I never tired of them (they were 1ft squares of marine ply stained black). I miss them now.

    Downstairs in that house I painted a study in blackberry . Very very dark. I loved it so much I painted the bedroom in our other house the same colour. I was concerned since the room doesn't have such good natural light. But it's lovely. I completely love it. It's as easy as peasy to live with and the light, as it travels across the walls over the course of the day, is beautiful.

    Go black I say!

  29. 8×13 is exactly the size of our guest room/office that I am working on right now! Cozy is a good way to look at it. I went the opposite with light gray walls and a blue ceiling. I can't wait to see it in black!

  30. This is the first time I've seen a blog post about black walls and I'm loving it!!

    My mother is an interior designer and begged me to paint my bedroom black when we moved into a new house while I was still in high school. I was very hesitant but the second the paint went up I was in love!!! I definitely think that the furnishings and design have to compliment the black in every way, but I'm sure you would be doing that anyway!!

    My mom also painted a dining room black ages ago and it was a hit with all of our friends and family.

  31. I recently did our powder room black, which I know is not a bedroom but I LOVE it. I like black in smaller rooms! Go for it! Can't wait to see all that you do.

    Ps- I started with a semi-gloss (whatever the next level up at SW is from flat and it reflected too much light and looked to shiny. I finished up with Flat and was much happier with the result).

    xo . trina

  32. I recently did our powder room black, which I know is not a bedroom but I LOVE it. I like black in smaller rooms! Go for it! Can't wait to see all that you do.

    Ps- I started with a semi-gloss (whatever the next level up at SW is from flat and it reflected too much light and looked to shiny. I finished up with Flat and was much happier with the result).

    xo . trina

  33. Flat, flat, flat! We did our bedroom in Martha Stewart's Francesca last spring (it's named after her little black French bulldog- cute!). Eva's absolutely right about the high-gloss highlighting imperfections, of which there are many in our vintage Chicago apt. I was worried to make the jump (though it wasn't absolutely terrifying because the walls were already a dark navy), but I'm smitten. It's so cozy while still being chic, and I love being in that room now. I'm excited to see how all of your new projects go in the new home. Congrats & good luck :)

  34. Painted the wall behind my bed black recently, and could not be any happier. I still get giddy every time I look at it. Everyone thought I was insane at first, but now they are sold!

  35. Just wanted to add my two cents :) I originally only painted the back wall of my bedroom a flat black (Dulux Night Jewels 1 – not sure if this is available in the US, I live in the UK) but it always felt a little unfinished. Finally, after living with it for probably 6 months, my other half relented to me painting the entire room black, including painting out the picture rails. I couldn't be happier with the result and even better, we both sleep better than we have in years. As others have said, everything pops against the deep colour. I have two large windows in the room so it lets in lots of light but it's very cozy of an evening.

    You can see it in this post:

    I'm sure whatever you decide, it will look amazing. Your style is endlessly inspiring! xxx

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