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Psychological Effects Of The Color Black

Use the psychological effects of the color black to create an elegant, bold look for your home.

home decorating with the color black

Used smartly, the color black can lend an air of sophistication and elegance to an interior design scheme.

Against a background of lighter colors or neutrals, anything in black will stand out (as in this picture).

The color black provides bold and defined detail, like print on a page.

For this reason, the color black is great if you want to draw attention to ...

  • fine features of a room (like the spiral staircase in this picture),
  • furniture with 'good bones',
  • ornamental detail.

This page is about the effects of black color ...

... for more info about color psychology, please go to the general psychology of color article.

Now, let's say you have fallen in love with a big black sofa and your living-room is a bit on the small side. In this case, the psychological effects of the color black are going to work against you: this color can really smother a room and give it a menacing austerity.

While - in the West - the color black is often used to demonstrate power and social prestige (think black Mercedes and black-tie events), you won't find much that's actually joyful or life-affirming about this color.

Black color is associated with death, mourning, widowhood, and generally serious and formal occasions.

It even "eats" light - all the other colors reflect light at least to some extent, but the color black just absorbs it.

black color swatches

In Western societies, the color black is also related to evil powers (we think the devil is black).

Stereotypical villains go dressed in black, too, which adds suitable drama to their character.

As for me, I'll never ever forget Count Dracula's first appearance at the top of those stairs (we're talking Christopher Lee, 1958 ... still the best :-)

Well, there you have it. The psychological effects of the color black are no joking matter, mostly.

Use the color wisely, like 'eyeliner' for a room - on details like

  • picture frames,
  • accessories,
  • small side tables,
  • piping or similar detail in textiles (cushions, throws ...), or
  • an element of patterns.

If you use black in small doses, its main psychological effect will be to 'underline' your home's chic sophistication.

"Soft" Blacks

You can soften the psychological impact of stark black by using near-black neutrals like

  • charcoal
  • deep blue, e.g. dark indigo, Prussian blue or very dark navy blue,
  • deep purple,
  • very dark green, or
  • dark coffee browns.

All these carry visual weight, but without the severity of outright pitch-blackness!

To check out the psychological effects of other colors, take your pick from the following links:

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