Originally published in STIR®
A softer, less assuming black for a still-recovering economy.

From Apple® iPhonesTM to AiAiAi Headphones to the Rolls Royce Phantom, matte black is everywhere. The finish gives black a warmer, more inviting look than its glossier, sharper counterpart.

Luxury automakers such as Lamborghini and Rolls Royce have embraced the look, offering various models in a luxe matte black finish. Auto enthusiasts are also getting in on the trend by having auto “wraps” applied to their vehicles – from Porsches to Hyundais – and the trend is picking up steam.

Now the finish can be found on electronics and electronic accessories, jewelry, nail polish, and many other fashion accessories. And its appeal isn't confined just to products: Matte black is gaining popularity as a fascinating, yet cozy, home interior finish.

The finish is intriguing when used in an interior space, but not in an outrageous way, as many might expect. Lauren Rubinstein, commercial photographer, says, “It tells me that the homeowner isn't afraid to show something a little different. I think black is as acceptable a color as chocolate brown or beige, but it's definitely a head-turner.”

Revamp a room

A matte finish softens the often harsh appearance of the color black and lends a unique feel to rooms both large and small. “It can make a small space seem more regal, and a larger space more dramatic, yet still approachable,” says Rubinstein. “It definitely is a showstopper and a conversation piece. Most homeowners are amazed at the transformation a room takes on after matte black is added to their color palette. It's really a dreamy soft look.”

Help soften the look and feel – and your client's potential reaction – by suggesting they start slowly. Use matte black paint to cover just one standout wall in a common living area. Make certain the room has ample lighting. Balance the room by using a soft white or cream trim or bead board. “It really makes the soft black walls steal the show,” says Rubinstein. “I think you can take a more minimalist approach and use bead board in white, or do something a little more French Country or traditional with toile.” With the balance, even dark wood floors can look stunning, although keep in mind that some dark carpeting or wood paneling may be too heavy to support a matte black wall.

Get creative

Rubinstein uses matte black in her home, and it serves multiple purposes in her dining room. It not only operates as a stunning visual centerpiece that complements the surrounding finishes, but it also makes an interesting conversation piece when she entertains. “I use my matte black wall as a menu. I write the night's feast on the wall in chalk for everyone to gawk at. My guests always have something to say about it!” she says.

Matte black can add drama and a soft, welcoming feel to a small powder room when used on one wall. When applied in a kitchen, it can balance and absorb the gloss and shine of gleaming stainless steel and granite. Even in a sunroom, lofted space or bedroom, the color can help create a luxuriously relaxing retreat.

Finish the look

When designing and finishing a room with matte black, d├ęcor is important. Add some interest to the room with glossy lamps or fixtures; high-shine hardwood or tile flooring; or a thick, textured rug. Consider repetitive, angular patterns and “nubby” or ribbed textures on furniture or accent pieces. Choose either a creamy or stark white to round out the simple color palette, and then finish it off with just a few bright colors that draw the eye without overpowering. “Throw in some teal green or pink for just a hint of color, keeping it really simple,” says Rubinstein.

Sherwin-Williams matte black coatings:

  • SW 6258 Tricorn Black
  • SW 6991 Black Magic
  • SW 6993 Black of Night
  • SW 2936 Black Emerald

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