“This trend is definitely catching on,” said interior designer Jennifer Kelly of Design Lab NOLA, who recently designed a black exterior for a client. “For me, black is a neutral color. It goes with everything. It instantly creates drama and intrigue.
A quick Google search for black homes turns up countless photos of black barn-style homes with simple A-frames and a glimpse into the origins of the trend. Some are rooted in New England salt box colonial architecture. Others are more modern adaptations with contrasting rustic woods and elegant glass walls.
Both are a product of the modern farmhouse trend popularized in recent years by design celebrities like Joanna Gaines. (Historically, many barns were painted black to raise the temperature inside.) As black barn houses became fashionable, black houses of other types followed. It counts 19th-century New Orleans, new construction, and modern homes among its growing cache.
“A modern black house in nature is exceptional in the woods, as it has breathing space and greenery around it,” said interior designer Betsy Hazard of House of Hazard. She worked with architect Lindsay Woolf of Woolf Architecture & Interiors to design such a home on the North Shore as a weekend getaway for New Orleans’ Lacey and Dino Watler and their family.
“I like how the black blends in with the trees instead of fighting nature,” Wolf said. “If a house is painted white, it will jump out at you, but black takes a back seat and lets nature be the star.”
Because black highlights lines and angles, it is ideal for modern architecture with a clean, crisp look. Architect and interior designer Tom Landry sourced the darkest bricks and mortar available for a linear Irish canal house that he designed for his family in collaboration with Nathan Deakan-Furtado and Tracy Ash of the former StudioWTA, now Practis Architecture + Design. The WTA handled the exterior, while Landry handled the interior and greens.
The warm, organic color complements the home’s sharp edges and gives a visual boost to the green landscape, which includes a bamboo forest in the back garden.
“As a designer, I’m always looking for the unusual and the unusual, and black was a color that was only around four years ago when we built our house,” Landry said. “Despite its prevalence, it remains rare in our part of the country.”
“Proper insulation is key for any home to be energy efficient,” he said. “We found no additional utility costs in having a black home.”
At the suggestion of designer Lorraine Kirk, who has a black house in Bywater, artist Blainey Kern and realtor Tracy Moore chose a dark gray exterior from stem to stern for their Victorian residence. The color is a departure from the uptown surroundings and a way to make the asbestos siding visually recede. Inside, the couple toned down the depth of color (a Benjamin Moore shade similar to the Farrow & Ball “Railings” that Kirk used) with white walls and colorful art by Kern.
The use of black inside New Orleans homes is not entirely new. Uptown residents John and Ginger Schwartz painted their duplex black a decade and a half ago. When the couple purchased the late 19th-century Queen Anne house, Ginger’s mother, interior designer Jude Swenson, immediately suggested black walls paired with a contrasting pale plastered gray ceiling to create a formality that Swenson compares to the black and white of a tuxedo.
Inspired by rooms in the homes of Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren, Swenson’s walls were covered in flat black and the millwork and fireplaces had a high-gloss finish. Swenson and Schwartz added shots of color with abstract art, furnishings, and glitter in the form of crystal, glass, and metal surfaces.
The Schwartzes also say that the black room is a classic room that does not require updating with new trends.
Right now, the use of black is especially newsworthy in kitchens, as homeowners move away from the white color that has dominated for decades. Designer and author Tara Shaw’s newly renovated Uptown home, a bastion of Shaw’s impeccable, European-influenced aesthetic, includes a kitchen and library with black cabinetry.
After losing her roof during Hurricane Ida, Shaw says she decided to make lemonade out of lemons and explore her love of the color black in a different way. Black has always been a mainstay of her wardrobe and part of her furniture, but this time, she decided to apply it to her surface treatments as well.
“I was in a different frame of mind,” said Shaw, who is known for her layers of white, but nonetheless brought a distinctive mix of antique, vintage and contemporary pieces, use of neutral colors and a range of rustic to chic finishes to the collection. Redesign.
17th-century Sicilian limestone panels provided the foundation and counter color to the black, which includes striped and lined wood cabinets, a waterfall soapstone island, and an Italian range. In the library, bleached cypress shelves now contrast above a strip of black-painted cabinets.
“I embraced black,” Shaw said. “It’s easy to repeat a pattern you already know, but it’s much more exciting and motivating to do the opposite.”
A small space like a media room or library is a good place to coat the walls in black paint, says designer Hazard. In her parents’ media room, where the original fireplace was stripped to reveal an unusual black metal surface with stylized calligraphic decoration, Hazzard used a deep charcoal.
Gallery owner Martyn Chaisson and interior designer John Fernandez chose high-gloss black for Chaisson’s master bathroom, which features traditional wall moldings and gleaming marble floors. The masculinity of the walls is balanced by the whiteness of the marble and natural light from a fan-shaped window.
Fernandez likens the look to the timeless elegance of a little black dress, while Chaisson describes the combination of black and white lacquered marble and a sparkling chandelier to a moody jewelry box.
“If my partner had allowed me, I would have painted the entire interior black,” Landry said. “I love the intimacy it creates. It’s exceptional at presenting a mood. Everyone and everything looks great in black.”
Tips on using black accents
“You know the saying, ‘Every room needs a little black,'” said designer Betsy Hazzard. “Black isn’t going anywhere. It’s elegant and classic.” Hazard suggests these four easy ways to use black:
- A black front door, especially one with a high gloss finish, is a classic.
- Ditto for the ebony finish on the hardwood floors.
- Black lamp shades add a luxurious touch.
- A collection of handcrafted pieces in black such as vases, boxes or pottery provides a unique statement.
(Tags for translation) Solid wall