What You Need to Know Before You Paint a Room All Black

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Do you want to paint a room all black but are scared and unsure of the result? A year ago we finished our basement and I went with SW Black Magic in our media room. It was a risky choice and way out of my comfort zone. I’m known for painting everything white. If I were going to do it, might as well do it in the basement which is completely separate level of the house and has its own design style. I wanted a mix of modern and vintage for the entire basement space. The media room was going to have two oversized leather sofas and I could just picture a dark, moody, clubby vibe with sconce lighting and all black walls. I think I pulled it off.

There are some things I learned and mistakes I made in the process of painting a room all black and I will share them with you here.

paint a room all black, floating shelves, wall sconce, boucle swivel chair, shelf decor, bar cart

Paint the whole room black or just one wall?

I know accent walls are very popular and they have been for a long time, but I personally don’t like them. They scream lack of commitment.

I understanding the thought of painting an entire room a very dark color – especially black – can seem scary and daunting. But painting a single wall will not have the same effect as applying the treatment to the entire room. You have already decided to make a bold statement – go all the way, and you will love the result!

paint a room all black, leather sofa, wood floating shelves, basement window, wall sconce

Should I paint the ceiling black?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. It all depends on the mood you are trying to create. A white ceiling will bring more light into the room. A black ceiling, on the other hand, will create drama and a more cozy atmosphere. Think of a dark club or theater room. Speaking of theater or media room, if you paint a room all black including the ceiling you’ll have the perfect setting for watching a movie. No white ceiling to detract from the screen.

paint a room all black, boucle swivel chair, wall sconce, wall art

What sheen should I pick?

Here’s where I might have made a mistake. I wanted a matte finish which is just one level up from flat. But my painter used a line of paint that doesn’t offer a matte so I ended up with flat. Both matte and flat create a very deep, velvety like effect when used with black paint. It looks absolutely scrumptious!

The trouble with flat paint is that it has no tolerance for fingerprints or touchups, and is not wipeable. It is great for a room that will be rarely used and not by kids. And it’s not just an issue with black paint. White paint in flat finish will also have the same problem.

It is not good for a high traffic area like a hallway or stairway or kids room. In my case, it’s mostly ok because my kids are older and the room doesn’t get much traffic near the walls. The better choice would have been a satin enamel finish.

paint a room all black, leather sofa, round side table, ceramic table lamp

Which black paint color should I use?

There are so many popular black shade paint colors in the market. You thought black and white were simple colors until you started looking at paint – they’re not! In my media room, I used Sherwin Williams Black Magic. It is probably one of the blackest black paints on the market. Check out the rest of the paint colors in my home for inspiration!

You can tell how dark a color will be from the Light Reflective Value of the color. The higher the LRV, the more light it reflects which means it will be light and airy. The lower the LRV, the less light it reflects, and it will be dark and moody. SW Black Magic LRV is 3.0. By contrast, the LRV for SW Pure White is 84.0.

These values are especially useful when comparing similar colors to one another. The LRV number will tell you which one is darker and by how much, relative to the other color. You can use this tool to look up most popular brands paint colors LRV numbers.

My final verdict is that I am happy I decided to paint the room all black but I wish I had gone with a satin finish to minimize the appearance of the slightest print or rub against the surface.

Afraid of such a dramatic commitment? Try painting interior doors black instead!

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