The dining room has a black wall.

I spent the last couple of nights of 2011 painting the long side wall in our dining room black, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The living room and dining room are right in line with each other, railroad-style, so visually it’s just a continuation of the black wall in the living room.

The house is very narrow (20 feet wide, including the entry hallway), and the black wall adds some depth to the room in a nice way. Also, since the dining room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, the dark paint has a richness to it even in the daytime that makes the room feel cozier than it did before…and, as in the living room, it brings in a bit of formality that feels right in a Victorian house. Personally, I think black walls get written off as being cold or depressing far too often! Elvis agrees, as you can see.

As in the living room, the bedroom, and the apartment kitchen, I used Benjamin Moore’s ‘Soot’ with a matte finish. It’s actually the deepest, darkest indigo blue imaginable and not a true black, but that’s what gives it that extra oompf.

(How is this plant still alive?! I always forget about it, and it’s right next to a heater, so it’s been teetering on the edge of death for years.)

Coffee + Music + Painting = My default comfort mode during vacations. Seriously, once I get going with painting stuff, I feel really good. It’s definitely one of those tasks that inevitably takes ten times longer than you imagine it will, but the impact is so worth it in the end. I can’t imagine paying someone else to paint walls for me! The payoff when the work is done is just way too satisfying.

Speaking of painting, if you want to know how I do it and the steps I recommend, shuffle over to Manhattan Nest and read Daniel’s post about the whole process. I prefer Aura over Regal, but other than that, we pretty much do things the same way, right down to the Wooster paintbrushes. What he says about painter’s tape? That’s the truth. Don’t do it. Especially in an old house. Yes, I freehand everything, even black paint that butts right up against white.

I didn’t take any full-length shots of the dining room yet because things are still looking like this, but that’s just because we’re getting ready to build new bookshelves. That’s what all of this fancy plywood is for! Yay.

P.S. There’s an Instagram gallery right here on the blog now. I used a plugin called Instapress to create it. It’s a teeny bit buggy, but good enough!

  1. SamanthaJan 5, 20122:41 pm

    It looks great! You’re right; there is a coziness to it.


    Cortnie /

    Black walls + Smiths poster = pure loveliness.


  2. Rebecca MellorJan 5, 20122:51 pm

    I’d love to be brave enough to paint my walls a colour as dark as that! It looks great, as do your other rooms – really looking forward to seeing the finished room! I agree with you as well – I’d never pay someone to paint my rooms either!


  3. DarcyJan 5, 20123:03 pm

    That is EXACTLY how my livingroom currently looks. We’re also planning to build shelves. Planning being the key word.


  4. Brittany @ Get FreshJan 5, 20123:17 pm

    it looks great! i waffle between wanting dark rooms and wanting everything to be bright butter yellow.


  5. rachelJan 5, 20123:31 pm

    can’t wait to see it all finished. you have such a great sense of space.


  6. mariaJan 5, 20123:42 pm



  7. KellyJan 5, 20123:50 pm

    It’s so good! And I can’t wait to see the bookshelves! Are they staying bare ply or are you painting them?

    Oh and also can you tell me more about those earrings you are wearing in your recent instagram pics? (the one’s with @RASPBERRYSWIRLY and @WEREOUTTAGAS) I think I need those in my life.
    Are they Round Designs/Lila Rice?


    Anna @ D16 /

    Kelly, I think we’re probably just going to do a clear finish on the ply. I need to do a few test swatches this weekend to see what looks best!

    The earrings are from Fay Andrada, who makes lovely stuff! I do have a pair of Lila Rice’s earrings, too—the Mountains hoops. I’ve actually worn them just about every single day since I got them!!

    Anna @ D16 /

    p.s. I wish your blog would come back!!

    Kelly /

    That’s going to look awesome. Can’t wait to check out the pics! Your house continues to amaze and inspire me.

    Isnt Lila Rice’s stuff so beautiful! I have the disc hoops, but I really want the crescent hoops and the dagger hoops. Love the mountains too! Gotta pace myself…

    Okay off to check out Fay Andrada…

  8. JanelleJan 5, 20123:52 pm


    I just wanted to write and say how inspired I’ve been by you (and Daniel) using black that I went for it and painted some of our doors. I also used your crock-pot method for removing the paint I had on my door hardware and couldn’t be more thrilled.

    Here’s a link if you’re wondering.

    Thanks so much!!


    Anna @ D16 /

    The doors look great, Janelle! Nice work on the hardware, too.

  9. SarahJan 5, 20124:01 pm

    I adore the black. Stunning!


  10. DoriJan 5, 20124:08 pm

    It looks great! I think I can see a bit of that indigo in the first picture. Would never have guessed you did it without painter’s tape… Do impeccably steady hands come with practice or by nature?


    Anna @ D16 /

    A little of both, I think!!

  11. AnnJan 5, 20124:10 pm

    Your wall looks great! I’m a big fan as I have also painted my entry hall, living and dining room in beautiful black chalkboard paint. I swear, I think I could be happy w every room that color! Although i did just paint the guest room charcoal gray so i guess im lightening up a little. Ha! I’m in an old house too and definitely agree w not using painters tape! Too much of a mess! Good luck w the bookshelves!


  12. MonicaJan 5, 20124:11 pm

    Dark walls look so good in low light rooms. Boo that most of the rooms in our house have a South/East exposure. Your black is just the perfect rich yummy color. The plant (Yay! that it is still around) and planter just pop in front of it. Loving the Instapress plugin.


  13. sarahJan 5, 20124:38 pm

    You’ve gotten me hooked on black + white paint! Currently my walls are moonlight white and my fireplace is soot. Love-love it. Thanks for the tip about instapress too!


  14. SherryJan 5, 20124:55 pm

    Love the walls and can’t wait to see the shelves!


  15. SarahJan 5, 20124:57 pm

    Black walls totally get written off! I painted my dining room matte black with gloss stripes a few months ago and it’s my favorite room in the house now. Makes all my furniture pop :)


  16. ibJan 5, 20125:58 pm

    Very bold colour but it works so well.
    I wish I had my own place to decorate now! :)


  17. KarinaJan 6, 20121:00 am

    I LOVE the black! I recently painted my living room walls a bright white….. insane asylum style. I know it doesnt sound bold but compared to the bleh beige (standard for EVERY home ever painted in Arizona..inside and out) it looks amazing to me.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


    Anna @ D16 /

    Oh, I love the boldness of white, too, believe me!!

  18. KristenJan 6, 20121:07 am

    I loved the black from the moment you initially painted way back when and I still love it now! So inspiring. I’m filing that color idea away in my in-the-next-house folder (I actually have one, eek)! I love the Benjamin Moore paint too. That’s the only brand we use and we’re pretty happy with it overall and I just think they have the greatest colors. Also, I love that you freehand, even the trim. So do I (with a short angled brush, even with dark colors) and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. That blue painter’s tape never, ever worked for me and I have used Frog tape a bunch of times (mostly for stripes and things) and while it’s pretty great, I still loathe all the taping and prep work it all takes. I just want my paint poured in my “special” tray, my “special” brush, and I am good to go! Now if it only took the amount of time I planned (oh just a little while or so…) instead of the reality of it taking a million more hours than I thought possible! :-)


  19. kay*Jan 6, 20121:23 am

    Ugh. So so good. I can’t wait to get home, find a new apartment, and get to painting and decorating. There will definitely be a few black walls….


    Anna @ D16 /

    You’ve been mentally planning and preparing for this new place for ages now! ;)

  20. kay*Jan 6, 20123:42 am

    I know – basically a month after I arrived in India. So bad. Good thing is I’ve had time to collect lots of unique pieces and fabric…tons of fabric! I envision lots of sewing of accent pillows. You know, when I learn to sew…


  21. jennyJan 6, 20126:43 am

    Building your own bookshelves – amazing! Tutorial? Please?


    Anna @ D16 /

    I don’t really do tutorials (too much work!), but I’ll take some pictures along the way. :)

  22. white collar | green soulJan 6, 20129:29 am

    How great is BM’s Aura paint?? Try their Natura too – it’s not as magical in it’s touch up and covering properties, but it barely smells and is still great quality.

    The black is incredible. I wish I had the courage to do that…. dark grey and navy is the darkest I’ve gone, though. Also, I love your mug.

    – agata.


  23. jenniferJan 6, 20129:32 am

    i love that wall color! looking forward to seeing a long shot.
    thanks to your enthusiasm about instagram, I started using it and LOVE it! so much fun! stop by sometime, anna, I’m under my blogname.


  24. amyJan 6, 20122:01 pm

    So deep and velvety. I’m starting to change my mind about ultra dark walls. It’s so lush and cozy at the same time, and it makes everything in front of it pop. Just gorgeous. As for free handing – I can’t even paint my finger nails without making a huge mess – no way I could deal with black up against white. But I’ve never had trouble with painter’s tape as long as I put it up right before painting, don’t slop thick layers over it, and take it down as soon as everything is dry. BUT I am very impressed by you and Daniel and your steady hands.


  25. EmilyJan 7, 20128:36 am

    That’s a cool grouping and the black paint makes everything pop. I like how it looks like The Smith’s are making a declaration that they’ve shoplifted Elvis Presley. Scandalous.


  26. hungryandfrozenJan 8, 20122:08 am

    Oh, that black wall is beautiful! Everything you photograph against it will look so dramatic. Also; one of my fave Smiths songs right there :)


  27. TheChangingHouseJan 8, 201210:24 am

    My husband wanted a black wall, but I was too nervous. We choose chocolate brown instead. Now I wonder if that was a good idea because your black looks so good!


  28. annie markantonatouJan 8, 20122:28 pm

    love it! like elvis at the side too..


  29. MartinaJan 9, 20128:37 am

    Looks good! Am planning on painting the wall behind our bed Downpipe Grey (very dark grey) soon. Am also thinking of other places that I could use it…I imagine it gets a bit addictive! A bit scary when you live in an itsy bitsy home like mine!


    Anna @ D16 /

    Down Pipe is such a great color!!

  30. Kelly of twosixeJan 9, 201212:32 pm

    I am a recent convert to the awesomeness of black paint! We also just recently painted our walls black! You can see a few shots here: We’re still undecided if we’ll go all in and paint the other two walls, would love your input! For now, we’re just chillin’ with two black walls and enjoying the new and totally fab look.


    Anna @ D16 /

    It looks great!! I’d leave it as-is, personally.

  31. jbhatJan 9, 201212:39 pm

    I got sucked into your Instagram gallery the other day and forgot to come back to compliment you on your lovely wall. It looks really good. I love the Elvis print.



  32. lifeloveluxeJan 10, 20127:18 am

    I read this post 3 times and got more and more inspired! That’s quite a to-do list you tackled, but well worth the work!! So loving the black and SO loving the blanket and soooooo loving that raindrop mug! Am I gushing? I’m gushing. Oh well, this post calls for it. Nicely done!


  33. Michael @ 47parkavJan 10, 20128:00 am

    LOVING the black Anna!…BUT – be warned…you really start to get a taste for it! And – It starts creeping onto other surfaces…floors – ceiling’s + stairs…




    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, my stairs have been black for 6 years, and this is the 6th wall I’ve painted black (and there’s a black ceiling in my bathroom), so I think that creep has already happened!

  34. Michael @ 47parkavJan 10, 201210:26 am

    Just found your bathroom images…VERY inspiring!!! You’ve only gone and got me thinking about getting the black paint out again! Well this ever stop?

    Loving your Blog!



  35. elisabethJan 10, 20122:48 pm


    I hate to admit, but I was just reading thru Apartment Therapy on a post about small kitchens which had several photos….I saw one and recognized it as your kitchen. How weird (disturbing) is that? Not. A. Stalker. I swear!


    Anna @ D16 /

    I don’t think that’s weird at all! I always recognize the homes of the people whose blogs I read when they pop up somewhere else. Totally normal :)

    Funny that they say my kitchen is “small,” though. It’s actually kind of big!

    elisabeth /

    Correction! The post as actually about neat and beautiful kitchens.

  36. TaniaJan 10, 20127:26 pm

    Love the black walls, the contrast with your poster and white furniture is great. I can see the indigo even in the picture, makes the darkness warmer.

    I didn’t know about the instagram plugin! I love instagram although I’m kind of drifting back to my prior obsession, hipstamatic.


  37. NinaJan 10, 201210:39 pm

    Love your black wall(s)! Makes me want to paint something black as well…The darkest I’ve painted something in my house was raccoon fur by BM so far but I’ve already bought black floor & porch paint to give my stairs a make over. Now I just need to get started ;)

    PS. Like the new look of your blog as well!


  38. Cathleen PearsonJan 12, 20121:11 pm

    Oh My Gosh,. I’m a HUGE Smiths fan (met Morrissey back in high school) so I just love this print, especially up against the dark wall. I think I’m gonna pull out an old Moz poster and frame it! So inspiring.


    Anna @ D16 /

    OK, I need to hear the Morrissey-meeting story! Details, please.

  39. mariahJan 14, 201210:27 pm

    that is a zz plant that loves very little water and little light. but do not let your animals or kids eat it though.
    it thrives in spots that are curious and fun. mine is touching the ceiling now from a bookshelf in a dark -ish entry way!

    rock on anna the blog is great!


    Anna @ D16 /

    No kids and the dogs aren’t tall enough. ;)

  40. AnnJan 15, 20129:43 am

    Wow – this is beautiful! Luv the soot color. Do you recommend painting the ceiling and trim the same color?


    Anna @ D16 /

    I’ve always painted the ceiling the same color as the walls, but that’s not a recommendation…it’s just what I do. I think it depends on the room and what you like!

    Ann /

    thanks Anna for inspiration and motivation to finish the ceilings and trim myself. :)

  41. AutumnJan 22, 201211:12 am

    I have that same plant too and I have no idea why it is still alive! It is has been so neglected. It is my houseplant from heaven.


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