Home Town's Erin Napier Says To Embrace A Dramatic Black Wall Color

Common interior design knowledge suggests that light, bright paint colors like white will make your room look bigger and airier. In most situations, that uplifting effect is a good thing, but the flip side of that coin means that dark colors create a better sense of coziness, depth, and mystery that white and pastels can't touch. Erin Napier, co-star of HGTV's hit series, "Home Town," doesn't shy away from the dark side of the paint aisle. In fact, she's artfully used black paint to make rooms feel more inviting and dramatic, a no-brainer when working with charming historical homes like those she encounters on her show. But what's her secret for making black paint look cozy and chic rather than flaky and cheap? 

On her website and blog, Laurel Mercantile, Napier writes, "The key to choosing colors that feel part of their surroundings, that feel aged and part of their environment rather than a brand new color that feels just a little day-glo, like a new pair of shoes that squeak a little when you step and are starting to rub a blister on your heel, the key is... Dinge." Even if you don't live in a vintage home, the right shade of "dingy" black wall paint can work wonders, making your home feel more unique and helping décor to pop from the background. Check out the rooms where Napier uses black wall paint and her advice for picking the perfect shade. 

Lean into depth and drama

Black is best for enhancing spaces that already have a cozy and moody vibe, like libraries, offices, and hallways. Even bedrooms can do well with a splash of this warm and sultry color. Black paint works much like any other neutral, but the powerful difference is that it makes everything else in the room pop. One of the biggest tricks that Erin Napier uses for styling dark paint is to look for furniture, artwork, and décor that play up this quality and contrast with the walls. Erin Napier doesn't just recommend dark wall paint for her clients and guest stars, she puts her paintbrush where her mouth is; her own dining room is outfitted with dramatic black paint, bringing the gorgeous ceiling beams, antique piano, and other details into focus.

For an all-out dramatic result, paint everything, including the ceiling, trim, and baseboards. Match cabinets and built-ins to your black walls, and rely on bold furniture and wall art to create dimension in the space. While black can traditionally make a room look smaller, painting everything in the same shade helps to negate the "shrinking" effect and instead makes the room feel bigger. If you're not ready to go full monochrome, you can still dip your toe in the inky waters by painting a DIY black accent wall or only the upper half of your walls, leaving any wainscoting or beadboard in a classic neutral white.

Think carefully about shade and sheen

Location plays a big role in making black paint look good, but so does the wall paint itself. Black paint tends to highlight any bumps, streaks, or scratches, so it's worth investing in a high-quality paint brand and shade that resists daily wear. Believe it or not, there's more than one shade of black, and Erin Napier suggests you pay very close attention to the undertones, no matter what paint color you reach for. Napier writes, "Choose whatever color you like that has a bit of yellow in it to make the color feel integrated and truly part of its environment instead of too-new, too bright, not quite right, and out of place. It is so subtle, but an important delineation between a house that's comfortable in its color vs. a house that's squeaky" (via Laurel Mercantile).  

Instead of reaching for the inkiest, blackest black, experiment first with samples in warm and cool undertones. Considering Napier's advice, a warm, brown-toned black will feel much more approachable and natural in a room than a cold raven black. Finally, the sheen quality is incredibly important for dark wall colors. Glossy black paint gives off the "squeaky" vibe that Napier warns to stay away from, while matte and eggshell finishes will help you achieve that soft, comfortable, and worn-in look of your dreams.