I love a good, bold color. And I most certainly love how black or deep grey can accent a bright room, can add dimension to a neutral palette, or create a royal, sophisticated space with just a quick swipe of your roller. Painting is transformative and it can change a mood, can change a room, and can do so in an afternoon. If you don’t like it, PAINT IT!
Today, I’m sharing my very favorite moody black and charcoal paint colors from the Sherwin Williams paint deck. Sherwin Williams Emerald line is my favorite type of paint because of its smooth finish, its clean lines, and the lack of brush strokes after you’ve finished. If I could recommend a paint brand, the Emerald line is exactly where I’d steer you every single time!
So here we go! My top 10 black and charcoal paint colors and all the wonderful undertones that can make or break your vision. I’ll break them all down for you here today!
We’ll kick things off with SW Inkwell, the most perfect mix of a blue-black out there. This isn’t as navy as SW Naval and it isn’t as dark as a solid black like SW Caviar or Tricorn Black. This is a perfect dark, bold, industrial color with dark blue undertones. I love how it appears that dark black when it’s under dim light or when the curtains are drawn, but when it’s showered it light, the dark blue is extremely evident.
A strong green has been my absolute favorite addition to my home these last few years and this SW Jasper is giving me all the ideas of where I could include this. This Sherwin Williams color is a deep forest green that can appear almost black in low light. On the paint swatch, it does appear to have grey undertones but it most certainly DOES NOT have grey undertones. This green-black has an LRV (light reflective value) of a 4 with the darkest blacks having a 3 on a scale to 100. This is a DARK green with the most beautiful undertones of nature.
If you’re looking for a paint color that is giving BOTH navy and grey undertones, Cyberspace is what you’re going for. It has an LRV of 6 (remember, 0 is the truest black on a scale of 100), so this is a very dark color, but with the correct indoor lighting or natural light, it can give off a lot more of the navy and grey undertones. This is an underutilized color because it isn’t located with the other blues on the Sherwin Williams fan deck. It’s placed with the greys due to its undertones. This could be just what you’re looking for if you want something a little less dramatic than SW Naval or you want something not as stark as a true black.
There is talk that this is one of the best blacks on the market because it gives you the WARMEST black with its red undertones. This is a color that will look black no matter what type of light you have, whether you’re using it in a low lit area or a sunroom. Since it has more red undertones than blues or greens, this black can appear softer than others. If you’re looking for a true black with minimal color change in differing lighting, this could be the paint color you’re searching for!
Urbane Bronze was the 2021 Color of the Year for Sherwin Williams, and for good reason. It instantly skyrocketed in popularity and I’ve now seen it on walls, on furniture, and on the exterior of homes regularly. This color has a lot of dimension to it so let me break down exactly what you’ll get with this color. If you are using it in a north-facing space, it’s going to give you a very warm grey color. If you’re using it in a south-facing or western space, this will give you a much more earthy brown and green undertone to it. This color has an LRV (0 being the darkest on a scale of 100) of an 8 so this isn’t the darkest color on our list but it’s certainly going to give you a bold color. With browns becoming oh so popular, this color is going to be a fan favorite for a long time coming!
SW Iron Ore is a great inky, dark charcoal paint color that has some major grey and dark blue undertones. This is such a close one to SW Peppercorn (next on the list) but it does have an LRV of 6 compared to Peppercorn’s LRV of 10. When used with golds, wood tones or white contrasting trim or accent coloring, this will appear very much like a dark, dark grey. However, this can give off a lot of blue undertones under a lot of natural light hitting it. Even under specific lighting, it can even show a bit of purple. This is a color I love when used under the right circumstances, but you MUST sample on your walls before committing to this color.
I just completed our exposed basement ceiling remodel and I used SW Peppercorn to cover our entire thing. We are almost a week out of completion and I’ve stared at that ceiling in sunlight, in shade, during a rainstorm, at night time, upside down, inside out. I’ve stared at it every which way. And this color is IT! Peppercorn is a deep, deep grey that has a LRV of 10 (again, this is a scale from 0-100 with 0 being the blackest black). It’s much lighter than most others on this list but it’s still considered on the black spectrum. This color gives off blue undertones when hit directly with light, much like what you can see from Gray Rose Home’s photo above. However, when it does not have direct light, you will be looking at a VERY dark grey. If you aren’t looking to go as dark as black or as earthy as an Urbane Bronze, this color will give you very cool, industrial vibes to whatever space you’re looking to change.
I LOVE this black! I’ve used this on my front door, my shutters, and my main stair railings in the recent years and I’ll use it again for as long as I live. This color has an LRV of 3, meaning this is one of the truest blacks and darkest colors on the market today. The undertones on this color? None! The front of our house is north facing so we don’t get direct sunlight. The color in the shade? Black. Our stair railing gets hit with a lot of natural light from all our windows, plus overhead light from two different levels. The color with natural and artificial light? Still black. This is a wonderful color choice if you’re concerned with undertones creeping into your color during different times of the day. This will give you the truest black color that you’re searching for.
Our last one on the list is SW Caviar. This is another true, true black paint color with an LRV of 3 (another one of the darkest on the list!). Under most conditions, this paint color will give you solid black tones no matter your lighting. However, if paired with off-whites, certain wood tones, or gold accents, this can actually read with a bit of brown undertones. It can actually look more of an earthy black over the other dark, dark colors on this list.
I will always, always recommend you sample these bold paint colors in your spaces and see how the color changes as the light changes throughout the day. Every type of light will shine differently on paint colors, especially on dark, bold colors. Sunlight can look different in the morning and in the evening and overhead lights can look different than sconces or lamplight. Paint can shift colors and undertones at all different points in your day and you’ll need to play with those situations and see the color that matches exactly your vision!
Need some extra supplies? Check out all my favorites below and at the link My Tried and True Paint Supplies for Every Project!