DS Black Book

Design*Sponge Online Black Book: Black Paint

by Grace Bonney

In addition to the product and information-based giveaways we’ll be doing to celebrate our 10th anniversary of blogging, we decided as a team that it would be great to finally collect and share all of our very personal and very trusted resources for everything ‘home’. From our favorite wallpaper patterns and trusted sofas to paint colors and hardware, we’re going to share all of the detailed pieces that we trust in, stand by and invest in on a personal level. These posts are not sponsored and reflect the real purchases that our team makes and swears by. So if you see something in here that you’re scared to try, trust that we’ve used it, loved it and recommend it to the fullest. Today we’re starting with something near and dear to my heart: BLACK PAINT.

It started with Daniel and Max. Then it was Anna Dorfman. All of my favorite modern minimalist bloggers were painting their rooms and trim black and the bug finally bit me. Over the holiday break Julia and I painted all of our doors, windows and trim detailing black and I am FLOORED by how good it looks. I’m never going back. It feels so crisp, clean and modern. Black paint can be tricky to pick though- it can read too blue, too green and too grey. Sometimes those variations are nice, but here are our tips to consider before buying:

  • Always take a sample chip home. Black paint colors look dramatically different in certain lights, so test them on a wall before committing.
  • Consider the finish: For trims, windows and doors, glossy black paint looks swanky and chic. Matte black has a much more stark and spartan feel.
  • Black paint lets a lighter object shine, so don’t be afraid to use it on a ceiling if you’d like a white pendant or chandelier to stand out.
  • Black paint is great for disguising electronics (which are typically black).
  • Painting over black can be time-consuming so be sure you’re 100% before painting. This is a measure twice, cut once type of situation.


Click through for our full list of black paints we swear by…

Raven Black by Valspar: We used this on our windows and doors and love the way it looks in a matte finish. It has a bit of a blue undertone, so if you’re looking for a true dark black, this may not be the best bet. But if you want something a bit softer, this is a great black we trust.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 4.03.23 PM
Our windowsills in Raven Black

Onyx by Benjamin Moore: Daniel and Max used this paint all over their Brooklyn apartment and LOVE IT. It was what inspired me to paint our home black and the results they got on their doors were well worth the effort.

Daniel and Max’s Onyx Doors. Image via Manhattan Nest

Soot by Benjamin Moore: I used Soot by Benjamin Moore because I saw Anna Dorfman from Door Sixteen use it frequently. And man was she right. This color is a gorgeous charcoal-y black that feels rich and warm- never cold.

Soot in a living room, via Pink Wallpaper

Raccoon Fur by Benjamin Moore: Daniel and Max used this black on their bathroom wall. It’s got a bit of a blue tint but not so much that it feels navy blue.

Raccoon Fur in Eggshell on Max and Daniel’s bathroom wall. Photo via Manhattan Nest.

Black Enamel Paint by Rust-Oleum: Amy has used this color in small spaces to GREAT affect. Her counter top got a whole new life with this paint and so did a selection of vintage hooks she picked up at Brimfield. It’s an oil-based enamel paint, so it requires a good amount of curing time. This is such a rich, glossy look, we love it for a small piece of furniture or for details, but not a full room.

Photo by Max Tielman

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  • That’s a good call out, Lauren! I was just looking at my stairs thinking of painting them black but, with 3 cats and a pup, that seems like an impossible dream.

    I appreciate the post, still. I have long dreamed of painting part of my home black!

  • How can you not include Farrow & Ball Railings, for its name alone? – Signed, a hopeless F&B addict.

    • karen

      i’ve never used it, i’m sorry. these are our personal favs that we’ve tested and used, so i’m going with what we can confidently stand behind from experience :)


  • Finding the perfect shade of black is like finding the perfect shade of white – it is so unbelievably satisfying. My personal favorite is Black Horizon by Benjamin Moore.

  • I love the idea of a d*s black book! Can I put in a request for a round up of favorite white paints as well?

  • This is such a great series! I was just trying to pick a white paint last week and was looking for a round-up like this (I’m excited to see what you pick!). You are all such a wonderful source of information, so it’s great to see what you’ve picked for your own homes.

  • This is perfect – because I’ve been hatching a plan in painting our pocket doors and windows and trim — black. But I also need to figure out a way to paint the walls white seeing as the previous owner decided it would be a great idea to paint it glossy yellow cream color (ugh). Until our kitchen is done, however, I’m just gathering ideas, but this is so, so wonderful. I was actually wondering about that Valspar and Benjamin Moore shades — thanks for sharing, as it’s super useful!

  • Perfect timing! Just last night my husband requested we paint our bedroom dark, dark grey. At first I was hesitant, but now that I see some of these examples, why not?! Thank you!

  • Oh, and a stupid question for Daniel as comments on his blog entry about painting French doors – are now closed. Given that they are pocket doors and a part of them stays IN the pocket, how do i paint it as much as possible (does my question make sense?)?

    • Olga— I live with Daniel, so I can answer your question! To get the entire door out in order to paint it, we simply push the opposite door all the way in, thereby creating enough space on the track to pull out the door entirely. Does that make sense?

  • I love the idea of a black door. I also love the look and feel of the black walls, but I think it would make my NY space look smaller. I can’t wait to see the best white paints next week.

  • great post & love your suggestions! black paint & white paint, are to me, the hardest colors to get right. . i’m from the south, and we love our black baseboards and doors! i have had nice results with sherwin williams’ “black magic”.

  • I don’t think I’ll paint my trim and doors black, but i appreciate and love what I’ve seen here! I just painted my living room and fireplace all white, since I have a lot of color in artwork and furnishings, but I always wanted a true black mantel, and that slice of deep black looks awesome. It also lends itself to interesting ‘installations’ rather than the traditional mantel decor. Everything looks great with a black and white palette!

  • We just moved into a house that has black trim, and I really love it! Thanks so much for posting your color recommendations – we actually needed to touch up the doors in some areas, and the previous owners don’t remember the exact color they used. Perfect timing!!

  • I’m a big Manhattan Nest fan and love the black pocket doors, but it was the black doors in the winding white hallway that blew me away. I would have thought they would be too distracting in such a narrow, twisty space but they have the effect of constantly leading you to see what’s around the next corner. I don’t think Daniel ever did a post specifically about them, but I searched the archives and found this http://manhattan-nest.com/2012/11/16/hallway-part-2-2/ which gives a few glimpses.

  • Max, thank you totally makes sense. I didn’t even think about the fact that our pocket doors are single doors. And if I paint the frame around it, then it’s fine, I can just paint everything black :) We have SO much work ahead of us with everything as well – this will be a fun and rewarding project. Thanks so much for answering my question!

  • Please check out Annie Sloan chalk paint in “graphite” It’s expensive but you get huge coverage from just one quart. And it’s very easy to work with. Once you buff the finished product with her special wax you will be hooked!

  • Thanks for the spray paint rec – was about to ask the same question! We’re going to redo a 40’s marble-topped coffee table with black legs and gold accents. Spray paint sounds the easiest for a newbie!

  • Ditto what Alex said. So looking forward to the list of Trusted White Paints. Just in time for bedroom overhaul!

  • yay white paint list! I am painting an entire basement apartment- But will totally wait for your trusted round up!

  • I’d never heard of Montana Spraypaints. What’s better about it? I need to spraypaint part of a vintage lamp – it has brass accents and it really cool but someone did some folk painting on it. It needs some spraypaint loving care and I’m excited there might be a solution beyond Rustoleum.

  • after a redo of my kitchen wanted a series of floating shelves for one blank wall: Martha Stewart’s black was the perfect match for my new cupboards. found it at Home Depot after several stops between that store and Lowe’s.

  • Where can I find more photos of the last space (the one with what looks like an awesome black pegboard)? Would LOVE to get a bigger peek at that kitchen!

  • Grace, I’ve been hoping for more info on your black window frames, so thank you! Question – you don’t seem to mind that the window panes are still white? I ask because I want to paint our window frames black as well, but have windows with the encased panes, and they’re white… Curious if that bugged you but you got over it, or if you dig the look?

  • Also, did you paint all of your frames black, or just ones in certain rooms? What’s the general consensus/recommendation on whether to keep them consistent throughout the house, do you know? I feel like I’m overthinking this to death, but you’re right when you say it’s a “measure twice, cut once” kind of situation. I just want to make sure I give it ample consideration before taking the plunge. :) Thanks!

  • Where can you find the Raven Black by Valspar? It isn’t listed on the Valspar website or available at Lowes. Perhaps it was another brand? Or something of a similar name by Valspar?

  • yay, yay yay! I’m planning on painting some parts in different rooms in my home black. I was also considering which ones to choose. Then I considered getting only one black, for all the rooms. ’cause that would probably safe me money. But after this post I’m not so sure about that plan. Also, too bad that it’s only US paints, although I understand why. F&B Pitch Black is on my wish list, anybody here that used it?

  • I’ve been in love with the black on walls but have been too afraid to do it. I finally decided on a color ( Benjamin Moore’s Onyx), but I need some help picking a finish. I’m in between a flat finish or eggshell… Please help!!!

      • I’m getting ready to paint my bedroom BLACK! I have dark wood furniture though, and not sure if this is going to look good…do you have photos of your bedroom in black? did you do all 4 walls in black? I am getting some people tell me it will be too dark, that I should only do 1 wall in white, but I want it to be like a dark spa in there…

  • Can you recommend a black glossy paint for a front door? Also may paint my steps back and put a runner all the way up. Should these be glossy as well?

    • Katie

      Sure! I love Black Onyx by Benjamin Moore in high glass. But always test as well.

      I love glossy for all high-traffic areas because it’s easier to clean :)


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