A timeless original, the color black is anything but boring — especially when it comes to designing a dazzling style for your home or office decor.

Colors have personalities. So when I started last week’s column by saying that gray is the new black, I could imagine the color black grinning and saying yeah, but I’m the original!

Just as the little black dress never goes out of style, the color black is timeless. It’s powerful and sophisticated. It can give off a sexy vibe. It can also be mysterious and sinister. Black even has the power to evoke fear.

This week I’ll give you some tips on how to use this most dramatic of neutrals in your space, whether in small doses or as your main color.

Walls, really? Painting an entire room black can be risky, but it makes a great statement in a dining or living room — if these rooms are expansive and have lots of light and furniture to play off the black.


But in a bedroom? Yes. If done right, black on all the walls can be sophisticated and intriguing, or in the case of 14-year-old Hailey’s bedroom, it can even play up a look that’s beachy and casual.

The key was selecting a very soft black. We chose flat paint in a charcoal/black shade and added lots of white trim. With the windows letting in tons of natural light, this backdrop allowed the lighter-colored furniture to be the star.

If you want this classic color in your bedroom, pair it with white accents in the baseboards, crown molding and some picture frames. Other tips: Bring in furniture pieces that are not weighty in design, use lots of reflective materials like mirrors, chrome and crystal, and choose lighter bedding colors so the overall feel doesn’t become oppressive.

Balancing act. If you want black on the walls or other large parts of your décor, the key is to balance it with other colors. The obvious choice is white — a combination that can feel traditional or vintage, but also uber contemporary.

With this combination, think geometric wallpapers and stripes in window treatments and pillows. But it’s not a good idea to go 50-50. You need to make a decision. Is your focus black with white highlights, or the other way around?


If you have large patterns in your wallpaper, choose smaller patterns in your window treatment and pillows. Then bring in different textures, mixing in metals and woods.

Punch it up or tone it down. If you want your space to feel warmer, go for soft blacks and tone down the dark effect with creamy whites, beige linens, muted silvers and pewters, even antique metals and crystals.

If you want to heighten the impact of the black, go for bright paper-whites, shiny chromes and silvers and highly reflective glass.

Pop it! Too much black and white can feel overdone and uninteresting. Punches of color can add the personality a space needs. This is where trends can come in — what’s hot now are pops of sunshine yellow, lime green, jewel tones, lavenders and bright pinks.

Infuse colors that speak to you, and you’ll have a timeless space that will be easy enough to update when the mood for new drama strikes.


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker,

president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info of design projects, visit www.cathyleestyle.com.