Path to a Black Bath

BY ERIK J. MARTIN ON APRIL 12TH, 2019

Path to a Black Bath

BY ERIK J. MARTIN ON APRIL 12TH, 2019

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We’re accustomed to thinking of bathrooms as blanched and bright spaces where the wall paint, tile, sink, vanity and other elements should conform closer to white than the darker end of the color spectrum. After all, white signifies clean, pure and safe – qualities many would naturally want to associate with an in-house sanctuary like a master bath or powder room.

But lately, this most private of rooms is hewing toward the opposite hue. Welcome to the era of the black bathroom, where dark can be daring, dramatic and distinguished.

Stephanie Pierce, director of design and trends at MasterBrand Cabinets, says she’s not surprised by this trend.

“Personalization has really stepped up in interiors. Homeowners have a new confidence to truly make their space their own rather than being overly concerned with neutrality,” she says.

Janet Lorusso, owner of JRL Interiors, notes that it was only a matter of time before black started bleeding into the bath.

“Black is trending in other areas of décor right now, too. I believe this is a reaction to the last decade being dominated by greige and gray colors,” says Lorusso. “Black is still a neutral color that works well with nearly every other color, but it’s much more dramatic than the softer neutrals we normally use in bathrooms.”

Black also conveys elegance, power and even mystery – characteristics not traditionally assigned to bathrooms but which can leave a lasting impression.

“Black is certainly a statement-making color that is high contrast and which acts as a grounding force that helps drive home a style statement,” Pierce adds. “It can be masculine as well as sophisticated, and it can be absolutely classic in its appeal based on how it’s used.”

Elle H-Millard, industry relations manager with the National Kitchen and Bath Association, headquartered in Hackettstown, New Jersey, says that black is also brilliant at hiding imperfections – depending on the sheen and shade.

“Fingerprints are not as noticeable on matte black as they are on gloss finishes,” says H-Millard, adding that the current flat black comeback harkens back to the 1980s. “But you should opt for a slightly more polished black matte versus chalky black matte so that it gives off a feeling of clean.”

Contrary to popular belief, adding black to the bath won’t make it look smaller.

“It really has the opposite effect, because it almost makes it look like an infinite space. The room can feel larger because you cannot immediately identify the depth of the room, where it starts and stops,” H-Millard says.

Lorusso recommends adding black in some, but not all elements. For instance, black wallpaper creates a striking look, while black cabinetry or millwork adds instant sophistication. Matte black faucets sport an edgy or casual look, depending on style and context, and black-framed glass shower doors add an industrial/loft vibe.

“I believe black is best used with balance, although it can be the dominant color,” Pierce suggests. “Sufficient light is important, even though you can use black without natural daylight present. White also plays well with black in the bath, and a pop provided by a third vibrant color can be a great way to modernize the room – such as by choosing gold or chrome fixtures and hardware.”

Kevin Yarbough, a home inspector with KEY Inspector in Nokesville, Virginia, advises using a high-quality satin or flat black paint with primer built in, as paints with a sheen will highlight flaws.

“Consider painting one wall black as a feature wall and the other walls a light shade of grey to avoid a stark contrast in paint colors,” he says. “And be sure the room has good ventilation. Without it, steam in the bathroom will allow moisture to gather and leave visible streaks on black walls that are difficult to remove.”

Pierce says not to worry about black hurting your home’s value when it’s time to sell.

“Black is classic and never truly goes out of style. The risk is minimal if black is not used on too many of the room’s large and expensive items that would need to be replaced,” says Pierce. “But if black is done well and has good balance, the striking effect won’t hurt resale.”

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