Tonally, charcoal is as deep as you can go and, while it doesn’t shout, it certainly demands attention. However, it’s also uncompromising and you make it work for you by using it in the right proportions.
While accents of charcoal are usually employed in small amounts to lend definition to a scheme, don’t write it off as a main colour! It makes tiny rooms, like guest bathrooms, look warm and intimate, and it can work in larger spaces, too. One trick is to use a gloss paint that acts as a mirror and reflects light back into the room. Another is to team it with a vibrant bright to bring energy to a scheme.
A chalkier version of black in its most intense incarnation, charcoal tends to create the illusion of textured velvet, thanks of its light-absorbing qualities. Even though it has presence, charcoal can still be considered a neutral, so it works exceedingly well as a backdrop. Use it generously on walls and even ceilings and mouldings (creating a wash of the colour without the visual interruption of a contrasting trim), thereby establishing an anchor with which to pull soft neutrals together. Pair it with natural wood and leather and throw in liberal touches of mixed metallics — everything from brushed steel to burnished copper — for a look that’s both masculine and quietly comforting, the perfect setting for a carefully curated assembly of framed prints, handsome tomes or treasured collectables.
Alternatively, for a shot of retro style, highlight the warm undertones of charcoal by pairing it with eye-popping canary yellow. But limit the yellow to bright accents here and there to keep the scheme fresh and surprising.
Try: Plascon Tribecca Corner (EC 48)
Read more about the colours featured so far in our 6-part series, ‘Breaking the colour code’ — it’s packed full of fab décor ideas: