Black Windows: Design Tips and Inspiration
One hundred years ago, black windows were de rigueur. Now they’re back and looking better than ever.
All-black windows add dimension, a sense of depth and a confident statement to any space. With Marvin’s new Designer Black painted interior finish, less becomes more as dark details frame views in a whole new way.
May 16, 2017
It’s clear that black is no longer only for evening wear or stuffy affairs. Black in every form—including matte black—is gaining popularity as a finish, from bathroom fixtures to kitchen accents and appliances. As an exercise in contrast or a spin on a classic look, black interior windows offer the chance to use a color staple to make a bold statement.
How is this trend playing out in the design world? To get the inside scoop, we asked top designers Mary Douglas Drysdale of Drysdale Design Associates and HGTV fame, and Barbara Bradlee, winner of a 2017 American Society of Interior Designers Annual Award and owner of Bradlee Design, to weigh in on the dark interior finish trend, and how they use this design option to redefine a space.
Q: Matte black as a finish is gaining popularity. How would an all-black window or door with matte black hardware make a statement in a room?
Mary Douglas Drysdale (MDD): Black has entered the mainstream. In the last decade, narrower rails and stiles have found well-received expression in windows and doors. Many have tried steel doors, but the cost and complexity of installation and glazing are not practical and are limited in terms of compatibility with many architectural styles. Black painted narrow width doors with Designer Black interior finish are an elegant answer to design transparency, the vocabulary of current design and a realistic way to achieve architectural drama.
Barbara Bradlee (BB): An all-black window with matte black hardware would be a confident statement. Black draws a person’s eye and provides a signal that this window is a design element meant to be noticed. Black mixed with other black finishes instills a sense of clean, simple, confident and strong design.
Q: Windows are a focal point in any home. How can black painted finish help define the view?
MDD: The use of black finish in architectural glazing is very dramatic and relatively new in residential. It is a stronger use of the framing element of any view, and the effect is both elegant and effective.
BB: A black window or door enhances and gives attention to the view beyond, making it appear even more important. Just as a woman’s eyeliner brings out her eyes and adds depth to her face, a black interior finish punctuates the view and adds depth and dimension to the room’s interior design.
Q: When you bring a black finish or a high-contrast look to a space, what kind of style are you trying to achieve? Modern? Transitional? Traditional? Can it vary?
MDD: I always believe that the style imprint of any space is created by many architectural and decorative elements. In my view, black interior finish could be effectively used in a modern space as well as a transitional or even traditional space. It is simply a tool for refocusing the emphasis created by a door or window.
BB: Black interior finish is a current spin on a classic look, both contemporary and traditional. Black interiors replicate the feel of a European metal window as well as a painted Colonial sash in a traditional or historic application, while at the same time providing a modern interpretation. Painting a traditional double hung window black can bring it from the traditional to the transitional—a versatile nod to both styles.
Q: If you’re using black painted windows or doors in a home, what wall color(s) would you pair them with? Why?
MDD: At heart I love detail, but often find that cohesion—and not contrast—provides the right answer. Black goes with many colors—I would love to actually do a room with it as a study in blacks and neutrals. But, I would avoid the more vivid and highly decorative citrus colors.
BB: As an interior designer, I believe there are no “wrong” colors. The selection of color is dependent on the client, the décor style and the location of the home. I can picture the windows and doors in black, trim in white (if applicable) and many possible color options for walls—grey, rust, blue, gold, aqua, Pantone Greenery, taupe, white and so on. They all would work beautifully.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering black painted windows or doors, but isn’t sure about the bold or high-contrast look?
MDD: I would suggest what I always suggest—work with a professional. Explore the options by looking at completed projects, doing searches and taking advantage of design or architecture professionals’ expertise that can illustrate the effect that a dark interior finish could have on your specific project. Don’t leap because something is in fashion. Examine the options, be confident in your choice and then just do it!
BB: I would tell them to not be afraid. Black is bold but it is both current and classic. It will add dimension to your space while enhancing your view, drawing your eye out through the window and beyond.