Real Reveal: Black not bleak

Hiya all and Happy New Year – I’m just emerging from a ‘heavy winter cold’, just like the Queen. Having had family over for Christmas I’m finally feeling well enough to enjoy the fruits of my labours before they arrived – i.e. an epic (for me) decorating project.

Farrow & Ball Black Blue

Yes, after years of giving it all the chat, I finally got up that stepladder* and finished painting the whole of the stairs and hallway black. In the Christmas fog it looked pretty – erm – gloomy, but now the sun is back out again I am completely loving it.

Farrow & Ball Black Blue

I was desperate to paint everything black ever since visiting a house that was, about a decade ago. It was an old coaching house in Bristol that owners and designers Goodchild Interiors had painted black everywhere. The effect was so intimate and cosy, and made wonderful works of art of every window view across the river. A later visit to legendary Denis Sever’s house with its black staircase just confirmed my feeling that in a light-enough house there is no better decorating decision than going all-black.

Farrow & Ball Black Blue

Farrow & Ball Black Blue

Excuse the wonky picture, but you get the idea. It was interesting to me that once the black paint went on, visitors suddenly noticed the full-wall Surface View mural which has been there for two years – the black obviously frames it and makes it both stand out and fit in better.

It took me a while to get used to it – it’s kind of show-offy isn’t it, and its such a big change from before. And I literally completed it on the shortest day of the year. But I am loving it, thrilling to the suddenly dicey-feeling descent into the narrow darkness of the stairs. Set on the cliff with the Old Town falling away down hill behind, the house is incredibly light. It also has extra-large windows on the south side for good measure. It can make you feel a little as if you are living outside all the time. The hallways and stairs form a spine through the house that now feels like it gives you a sort of shelter. You feel cloaked rather than exposed.

Farrow & Ball Black Blue

Yes, I left the Hoover in this picture just for devilment. Also you’ll notice that everything certainly needs a second coat. What can I say? Christmas performed an intervention. Strong sunlight on black shows up the lot, let me tell you. It’s all Farrow & Ball Black Blue, and especially in the eggshell it has a wonderful bluey depth to it. So there you go. One more coat to go. Back to spending weeks going up and down the stairs on my bum, like a slow-mo stair lift. Hope you like it – any nerdy paint questions welcomed.

*The top bit of the hall was way too tall for stepladder alone so I had to use a paintbrush sellotaped into a length of pipe. Up a ladder. Don’t look at that bit too close up is all I’m saying

13 Responses to “Real Reveal: Black not bleak”

  1. Trish
    January 5, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

    Well done cous, it looks great

  2. Paris Match
    January 5, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    Good job! The stair risers look good painted black against the oiled wood treads. x

  3. fiona duke
    January 5, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    bravo! love it

    noone will ever see the top bit ……and if they do and dare to comment….. dont invite them again 😉

    • myfriendshouse
      January 10, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

      was bristling for a comment but only positives so far! x

  4. Flora
    January 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    Love the black! I’ve been checking out a lot of dark interiors on Instagram and I have to say, I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’d love it in my own home… but that doesn’t mean I don’t really appreciate it in yours & other peoples! 🙂 Interesting to hear that your guests have just started noticing the mural… just goes to show doesn’t it – going dark can really make colours pop. I like it a lot!


    • myfriendshouse
      January 10, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

      thanks so much – I was so unsure too – even once I’d cut in and started painting. It was a gloomy day and you could feel it getting darker and darker! But there’s always that magic moment when you finish it and suddenly it all comes right x

  5. Shelagh Daley
    January 6, 2017 at 11:37 pm #

    Ooh, I’m thinking this would be good.

  6. Maria
    January 8, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    Love it! Looks fab, please post photos after the second coat. Makes everything stand out, pictures, views from window, lights, and especially the flowered wall on the top landing which I loved before but now it looks amazing. Well done!

    • myfriendshouse
      January 10, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

      Thank you so much – I feel the second coat may be a while but I will share again with hopefully less wobbly photos. I’m so looking forward to how it looks in full summer sun x

  7. Anne
    January 11, 2017 at 1:59 am #

    Your way of painting the parts that were too high to reach was very similar to mine! Having a Victorian house with tall ceilings and trying to reach the spot where the stairs bend and the ceiling is just unreachable, invention takes over. I had a extender pole that I duct taped my sash brush to and leaned as far as I could over the banister. Might not have been the safest method, but it worked! Farrow & Ball Sudbury Yellow, love it!

    • myfriendshouse
      January 11, 2017 at 11:51 am #

      yes Anne! There were certainly a few hairy moments, with one foot on the bannister and one on the ladder and all that. I did wonder if I’d end up in A&E covered in black paint. I’ve just looked up Sudbury Yellow and it looks wonderful – I bet you’re delighted with it x

  8. Frances Berriman
    January 15, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

    I love it. Black is classy, and you’re right about the mural popping better.

    It actually looks like a very deep wine bottle green in some of the snaps.

    • myfriendshouse
      January 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

      thanks Frances – yes that may be something to do with it needing another coat. It looks turquoise on streaky bits of the woodwork. It really is a brilliant colour, like the bottom of the ocean!

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