When it comes to using color to make a statement, few hues have the ability to command attention quite like black. Not only does it have depth, but it’s also versatile and complementary with pretty much every color in the wheel. Unlike white, which tends to temper bolder shades, the slightest sliver of black can instantly accentuate whatever tone it’s paired with. There’s a bit more, however, to this shade than meets the eye.
Black can fall on either the warm or cool end of the spectrum, depending on its undertones. The hues that best complement black are the ones that lend contrast, but there are exceptions—think navy or charcoal gray. The key to making blackwork is all about striking the right balance when pairing it with other colors. Read on to see a few shades that play well with black and how to bring them home.
1. Black and Dusty Rose: Refined Charm
Consider this pairing a slightly more adventurous alternative to classic black-and-white. A lightly tinted shade of pink has a bit more dimension than any other neutral. Plus, blush tones help warm up the darker shade. Putting black with just any variation of pink can get tricky quickly though. As a general rule of thumb, avoid anything too saturated, like hot pink, unless you are going for a more over-the-top, maximalist look.
2. Black and Brown: Down-to-Earth
Together, black and brown set a moody, modern aesthetic, says Decorist designer Casey Hardin. “The best way to incorporate them is to mix materials, such as a black leather sofa and brown wood accent tables, which allows you to create a textured, eclectic vibe that looks curated and collected.” For good measure, throw in a few lively green plants to really make the scheme pop.
3. Black and White: High-Contrast
Name a more iconic duo—I’ll wait. Teaming black up with white is a foolproof way to make a statement regardless of how or where this scheme is carried out. A black accent wall in an otherwise white room is a great place to try this pairing, and a built-in bookcase that doubles as an accent wall is even better. To avoid a stark look, filter in warm metallics and rich, natural textures, like linen, for added visual interest.
4. Black and Navy: Eclectic Mix
Black and navy can feel similar in intensity and impact, so when pairing the two in an interior, it’s all about setting a moody scene. This mid-century mod living room does it just right with a blackout paint job that creates a sense of infinite depth, while a navy velvet sofa that brings charm and a little bit of texture into the equation.
5. Black and Light Beige: Calm and Collected
Consider this foolproof combo your shortcut to mastering a refined interior. Instead of a stark white, introducing a warmer, creamy hue can offset the intensity of a black backdrop as opposed to emphasizing it. Decorist designer Kate Spiro suggests using lighter browns, like beige and tan, to complement black and help it stand out in this context. Bring in accent pieces with a textural component—think a chunky knit blanket or a sculptural nightstand— to take the room to the next level.
6. Black and Stone Gray: Sophisticated Cool
If you’re going for a monochromatic look but don’t want to commit to an all-black space, introduce a series of tonal grays to create a subtle, rich finish. Start out with three shades and designate the lightest one for the walls and the darker two for floor coverings and smaller accent pieces. Keep things fresh by using metals, such as wrought iron or bronze, for extra texture and luster.
7. Black and Emerald Green: Lush Luxury
While you’re probably all for embracing this duo with the help of natural elements like houseplants, taking it a step further with an eye-catching textile, such as the emerald green curtain in Buenos Aires home, works just as well. “It’s a very rich, sophisticated, and chic color combination,” says designer Amy Kartheiser. “It reminds me of Angelina Jolie at the Oscars in her black gown and emerald green earrings—a ‘wow’ statement for sure. A sofa in one color and a lamp in the other would look wonderful in a room.”
8. Black and Yellow: Electric Duo
Pulling this look off hinges on seamlessly integrating pops of one of these hues into a palette dominated by the other. If you’re aiming for a little bit of drama with some refinement, opt for black walls and matching furniture. Then bring in bright yellow accents for a hit of color that just won’t quit. Fair warning: going too soft with a pastel or mustard shade of yellow will make these two seriously clash. Citron shades can work though—anything punchy is probably best.
9. Black and Red-Orange: Captivating Energy
This combo is as powerful as it gets and introducing it into an interior can feel intimidating. Downplay the intensity of the red-orange and black by allowing white to serve as a buffer. Follow the lead of this eclectic Spanish bedroom, where this trio is featured in equal doses, resulting in a visually dynamic scheme that feels entirely approachable.
10. Black and Purple: Bold Punch
With each of these shades being bolder than the other, black and purple can be a tricky combo to adopt. Instead of directly layering the two, set them against a neutral backdrop and designate them for separate major elements of a room. Take a cue from this edgy living room, where a black accent wall and an oversized, deep purple print coexist with an air of effortless cool.