Double Parlor The Victorian House

The Second Parlor, Painted Black

The painting of the second parlor — it is done. Huzzah! And Emptying out the room to paint has been really good for helping me figure out how to arrange the furniture. The corner fireplace has been throwing me off, and the room has so many windows and large doorways that figuring things out took some trial and error. I think that the way I had it before, with the sofa, an armchair, and plans for two additional chairs felt a little crowded. (Good thing I was just using placeholders for those two chairs near the fireplace.)

Black Walls, Blue Sofa #makingitlovely

The color is Black Beauty, by Benjamin Moore in a matte finish. It’s a soft, warm black with more of a brown base than a blue one. I think it modernizes the house and all of its oak woodwork without fighting against it, and I love the way it turned out. The room’s three huge windows face south, so even with a dark color, it feels bright.

Black Walls with Candice Bergen Quote #makingitlovely

Black Walls and Wood Trim #makingitlovely

I ordered two tufted pink ottomans from Target, because when you see something good and cheap there, sometimes you have to just go ahead and buy it before it’s gone. (They are, of course, already sold out now.) I figured I could return them if I couldn’t find a spot for them, but that if I did find a place, I’d want a pair. They’re here and they’re cute, and I think I like them along the wall that previously had a very narrow console table against it. Actually, a console table over the ottomans would be great, but the one I had there won’t work — too narrow, and the base gets in the way.

Black Walls, Fiddle Leaf Fig #makingitlovely

The rest of the space is looking a little empty right now because I’m trying to bring in only what I know is going to stay. (This is a departure from my “let’s shove everything everywhere because I have a big, empty house to fill!” approach. You like?) The coffee table that was here is currently upstairs, and the rugs (two that were lined up end to end to seem larger) are rolled up temporarily. I think a really beautiful mirror could be a good addition to the room, either above the fireplace or in the adjacent corner. I just put together a collection of my favorites over here.

Below, either the floral chair or the colorful painting are staying, but not both. One or the other will move to the library-to-come, in the front parlor.

Black Walls and Colorful Accents #makingitlovely

Speaking of the library, the shelves are not in yet, but I am liking the view in so far with the black stripes of the antique sofa tying into the black walls. I also found a spot for my large botanical print, so more black, yay! Ha. Although I do have to say, I’m not minding the lack of color on the walls throughout the first floor as much now. Contrast is satisfying.

Double Parlor #makingitlovely

I’m even more excited now to get those shelves going. A wall of books is going to look amazing with these two spaces!

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  • alicia
    March 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I love the black against all the color. Soooo gorgeous. Modern and feminine but also grown up!

  • jenn aka the picky girl
    March 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Looks awesome! Honestly, I think it calms the room quite a bit. That much wood trim, especially with the (beautiful) shutters, could easily overwhelm it quite quickly. And those ottomans! So so perfect.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks! And those shutters — if we open them up, the room is really bright, so the dark color works really well in that room.

      • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
        March 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        And the entire room is stunning with a white ceiling. Really classy.

  • chelsey
    March 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    where is the flowered chair from? i am trying to redo my living room/piano room and really want a chair just like that, but all the chairs i’ve found so far have been way out of my price range!

  • Ashlea Walter
    March 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I’m so surprised. I LOVE the dark paint with all the wood. GREAT job. I’ve been pondering painting all our walls white and going more Scandi, but now I’m not sure. SO much can be done with a coat (or three!) of paint.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I love white walls, but I feel like they aren’t right for my house. But black and white are very Scandinavian, so if that’s the direction you’re going for, it will still work!

  • Janis
    March 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Looks absolutely gorgeous!! I love the color with the wood grain. Stunning!

  • Tina
    March 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Wow! That looks great. I’ve been dying to see how this turned out because I was so surprised by the paint swatches. I really like it. I never would have thought that black + wood work – great intuition.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Everyone’s been surprised by the paint swatches. When people would come over, they’d say “Oh! You’re going… dark.

      • Tina
        March 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        It totally brought continuity to the room and the items in it. Great job.

  • Laura @ Rather Square
    March 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    What a bold move! Do you think you’ll leave the ceiling white?

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      I think so. It relates to the other rooms nicely. If those start to change and I don’t like it anymore though, I’m fine with painting it.

  • Jessica @
    March 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Gorgeous! Wish we had a room large and bright enough for black. It looks fantastic!

  • Danielle
    March 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Wow! This looks great!! I feel like the black was meant to be on the walls and it really shows the room off! Feels so nice and cozy!

  • Kathryn
    March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    LOVE! (now you need a trendy blogger cowhide to go with the blogger plant)

  • Jillian
    March 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    It looks fabulous! You’ve done two things for me…first, you convinced me wood trim can be awesome. Second, I am now obsessed with the idea of painting a room black. The jewel tone elements incorporated through your furniture are what really make it for me. Love it!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you. Wood trim (especially when there’s this much of it!) can be tricky. And of course, I painted it all white in my last house. Here though, I like it, and I’m enjoying decorating around it.

  • Nicole L
    March 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Oh that black parlor is lovely! And those ottomans are SO cute and PINK!

  • Megan
    March 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I love love love it! Those pink tufted ottomans are beautiful as well!

  • Maggie Jones
    March 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Absolute perfection!! Great job.

  • Jo
    March 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I just think this looks amazing. If only my house were bigger, I’d be able to pull off such a dark color on the wall. We’ve got a dark tan-grey in the kitchen and sometimes we have to turn on the lights during the daytime. This works really, really well.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Oh, that’s too bad. I think it’s more about the amount of natural light than size, as a small room can feel wonderful in a dark color (but not if it’s dim).

  • Tammy
    March 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    You are a rock star girl. KUDOS!

  • Helen
    March 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    It looks so so good, and so much better. I could see a very narrow type coffee table, like a george nelson bench, or something low and round and marble? I love the bright chair and the painting together, but I can see how you might want to spread the love, as it were. The dark walls turned out beautifully.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      I did like the long, narrow coffee table that was there before, but it was too small in scale. Something similar but longer could work. Round and marble would be nice too.

  • Amy J.
    March 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Now you’re cooking with gas girl! Yes, yes and YES! This is the way to go! LOVE the black. Love the blue against the black with the richness of the wood…and the brass and pops of color!! And I LOVE that you are starting bare and editing for the room with what you love most first and the bones of the room. THIS is the way I would have done it. Bravo!

    That said, I vote for chair to stay and painting to go. The boldness of the chair is unexpected and eclectic. A pretty bold abstract painting is “typical”! Go for art on the walls that is unusual and out of the box! Find some funky but beautiful Victorian piece of art that really sets off the room and plays on all you are doing. LOVE the idea of a mirror…go a bit ornate with it in a beautiful shape! Gilt gold maybe? Rug wise…this may change it all, so I would shop for that first. You need to find something beautiful, classic and bold, but not that overpowers the space. I’d leave the chair for now, but exect it might have to leave once that rug of your dreams is found.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Editing things down has been long overdue, I think! I could see where the room was going in my head and could overlook some weirdness, but everyone else just saw the weirdness. ;)

      I like your thinking on the chair. The rug will definitely drive the decision too.

  • Andrew
    March 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    It looks so good. The wood is looking gorgeous against this color. I can’t wait to see this progress. And I totally agree with your approach of removing things that aren’t staying. Have you thought about the Jacques Adnet Circulaire mirror for the fireplace? I’m kind of obsessed with it.

    Also, have you thought about a modern or vintage modern brass fireplace screen? I’m currently on the lookout for one but the one I want is 10,000. Um, no.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      There are so many takes on the mirror out there right now, too. I’m kind of leaning toward something ornate — almost garish (like a peacock mirror), but I’m waffling between a lot of ideas right now. A fireplace screen would be good eventually too. (Probably for less than $10,000!) There is one in the basement that came with the house, but it’s not too pretty. I don’t think the previous owners liked it much either — hence it being in the basement.

  • Laura
    March 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Nicole, I love the black against the trim. It is inspired! So so pretty. I confess that I thought your striped sofa looked so pretty in front of those windows, I long to see it in the same room against that black wall — and with the floral Anthropologie chair?! I die. I certainly don’t dislike the sofa you’ve got in the room now — it is beautiful! — but it reads almost as a casual denim (in photographs at least) and feels almost too casual in the context of the rest of the space. It also strikes me as a comfier reading couch — which might be a perfect little addition to the library space? As far as tying the black together in the two rooms, you still have your botanical print! I love your choices, but I wonder what it would look like with the couches swapped?

    Hah! Please forgive me for talking like this is my own house! You are so nice to open up your process like this, it is hard to stop oneself from piping in :)

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      The sofas are different sizes, so it’s not as easy as just swapping them around. I do love the floral chair with the striped fabric though! That’s why I may move the chair into the other room. As it is now though, the doorway between the parlors is very wide, so everything is seen at once, together.

      We spend more time in the back parlor, so I like having the comfier seating there. I do want some great cushy chairs for the library though. Or if not multiple, maybe one wingback?

  • Katie
    March 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    The black looks amazing. What an awesome, bold choice! Also, those ottomans are perfect and I can’t believe you found them at Target.

    What is your thought process on painting ceilings? All one color? Different colors depending on wall color? It’s something I’m considering.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      I usually like something other than a white ceiling, so this is a bit of a departure for me. I tend to like walls and ceilings to match. In this case, a black ceiling could feel oppressive, and the rooms on the first floor are all so open to each other, that I like the ceiling matching the spaces around it.

  • Kimberly
    March 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    This looks amazing! I love white walls but black walls are just so darn striking!

  • Chelsea T
    March 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    This looks amazing! I’ve been channelling my 17yr old self recently, and dying to paint things black. The fireplace, the large wall in the dining room – but my husband is terrible at approving things without visuals. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      I guess I am too, because I wanted black walls so badly when I was 17!

  • Norma
    March 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I have a similar botanical print and I have hung it as it came with the dowel and string. Did yours come as a flat print or did you modify it to frame? My print is “warping” slightly and I don’t want it to become damaged.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I bought mine framed, just as you see it. I saw recently though, someone had taken the print hung on a dowel, and framed the whole thing, kind of like in a shadow box, with a black background. It was unusual, but it looked good.

  • Constance
    March 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    We have the same Target ottomans in plum. LOVE THEM. Such a good find.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      They came in a longer, ivory version too. Such good pieces!

  • Kirsten
    March 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    It looks crazy gorgeous! I love it so much.

  • lfw1031
    March 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Lovely job! I admire your stamina to paint (and paint and paint!) such a large room. I’m working on a bedroom that is nowhere near the size & keep putting off the painting b/c…ugh, painting!

    I’m going to vote that the print stays, the chair moves elsewhere. I love that chair but something about it is working against the saturated paint color, the rich, abundant wood trim, and the sofa for me.

    I can’t wait to see the bookcases!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      The painting definitely took longer than it usually does. All that cutting in really slows things down!

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project
    March 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    WOW!! It looks even better than I imagined. The contrast of the black against the wood trim is stunning!

  • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
    March 5, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Like it very much. Everything looks cozy, you can definitely live with it all. We saw some of the Target “blush” collections. Pink pillows were pretty. Not buying things these days. Fun to look. Everyone loves seeing all your newest improvements! Thanks for entertaining us on this freezing, snowy (yep, another one) icky day in Illinois.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      I know! Spring has to be coming soon… right?

  • Karen
    March 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    That looks AMAZING! I love the way the wood works with the black!

  • Celeste
    March 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Adding my thumbs up to this chorus of affirmation.

    Tucking this idea away for future rooms (rather, future rooms I can paint… still renting).

  • Kylie @ All Things Lovely
    March 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I’m in love! This looks absolutely incredible, and all the wood and lovely bright furniture just pops. Would love to do this in my home, but I don’t have enough natural light for it to not just look too dark. So beautiful, well done! :)

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  • mudslide cookie
    March 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Looks like you hit your stride now. It looks awesome!

  • Katie
    March 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I thought about painting my baby nursery black but then opted against it because the room is tiny. I love this though

  • Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG
    March 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    You room looks great! I thought it might be too dark, but you get great light..we have a corner fireplace in our basement family room and it is very difficult to decorate around, so I feel your pain on that one!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      They’re definitely tricky. Plus, I’m just not a diagonal kinda gal. I like right angles in decorating, for the most part.

  • Brandyn | Southern Distinctions
    March 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Love this color with the oak trim! I’m with you on the -Less is More- vibe. I use to just fill space. Now I want my rooms to only showcase things I adore. No more junk just to take up space.

  • erin
    March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Great job Nicole, really well done. You are so lucky to have such a great house to work with. I’m watching you!

  • cherneeshouse
    March 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Just love the color and how it plays off the wood trim – the room feels cozy but bright – great place to read a book or have a glass of wine!

  • AmyR
    March 5, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I’ve read your blog for years now (years and years) and this is my first comment *shame face* – LOVE the black. I was really looking forward to seeing it done after seeing the swatches – it looks fabulous. And I can totally see a peacock-style ornate mirror over the fireplace – something fun and crazy!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks, and thank you for leaving a comment!

  • Ali Burtt
    March 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Ooh! You genius! This really works. I just love it.

    As for your console problem, I wonder about maybe trying something wall-mounted? I just wonder if it would be too busy with all the ottoman legs going on under there.

  • Kerry
    March 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Love the black walls – transforming and does modernize the room so much. I would not move that chair. It is perfect against the black walls. I do not see a problem with keeping the chair and the painting in there. I think that they play nicely together. The only thing I am not loving is the black and white print that used to be in your kitchen. It looks a little cheap compared to the beautiful sofa, chair and painting. Absolutely agree with moving those rugs out. Get something plush and luxurious to go with this elegant room. Well done!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      I agree, the print isn’t looking its best there. It’s funny, because the leading of the typography isn’t well done, and so it bugs me in a minor way, but I’m really attached to it because there’s a family connection (on Brandon’s side). I did consider hanging it in the hallway upstairs, but I’m trying it where it is for a while first.

  • holly
    March 5, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    love how it turned out!

  • Sarah
    March 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    This is so beautiful! I can’t get over how silky and comforting that color is.

  • caroline
    March 5, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I love it. I used black beauty in my house and I was so curious as to what it was actually made of so I asked at the Benjamin Moore store, and it has lots of green and red in it! I love how it’s black but a subtle black. Lena Corwin used it on her banister in her home and it looked amazing, so I used it on my banisters and it’s fantastic.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Ah, that makes sense! Red + green = brown. I saw Lena’s home, and that banister is nice (sounds like yours is, too!).

  • Lisa @
    March 5, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I really love the black walls contrasted with your colorful furniture! When done well, I think black walls look so chic – kudos for pulling it off!

  • Joan
    March 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    The black is perfect. PERFECT. And I’d keep the chair instead of the painting for now. My house’s floor plan is very similar to yours, but we’ve turned our second parlor into a library/office with an enormous old desk that was my grandpa’s. I just wondered one thing — your black and white couch looks like it’s blocking the entrance into your library. Is that just the way it was photographed, or do you really not use that doorway?

    • Making it Lovely
      March 5, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      It does look that way in the picture, but there’s plenty of space to walk behind there. (And the kids run laps through there every day!)

  • Annie
    March 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Looks just amazing! I hope the floral chair stays right where it is — it looks at home there.

  • judy
    March 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    WOW! I commented before that I thought your skill with your various boards was genius but this is just awe inspiring. I have been following the progress of the rooms and furniture purchases and it just seemed so disconnected-but this has shown me that design is a process that has to come together over time and some amount of trial and error. I want instant everything and I wind up puzzled and frustrated because the “lovely” in my mind never seems to be the resultant affect. I think if I had gotten help from a designer from the get-go it probably wouldn’t have cost anymore than I spent and would have been a much better result

  • Lindsay
    March 5, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Wow, Nicole I am so impressed! What great intuition- I’m sure most people would be far too intimidated to tackle such a deep color. Where are the pale blush and cream ikat pillows (or fabric) from? I’m in love! Well done!

  • xtaline
    March 5, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I never thought black would ever work in a wall! So pretty!

  • jessie
    March 5, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    It’s gorgeous. Well done. I especially love the floral chair and the pink ottomans. Don’t move the chair-it seriously makes the room. I never liked that chair, but with the black walls to ground it, I now LOVE it.

  • Clever Girl Reviews
    March 6, 2014 at 1:51 am

    I love love love how it turned out! I love how it really makes all the colors pop!

  • Amela
    March 6, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Loving the colour scheme!

  • erin
    March 6, 2014 at 5:49 am

    I LOVE it!

  • Silvia
    March 6, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Hmm… I don’t like it. :-(
    It’s the wood trim, but you can either love it or hate it. There seems to be no inbetween. Sorry

  • Amy
    March 6, 2014 at 7:35 am

    It’s gorgeous! I have always been a big fan of black and am so happy to see how this turned out. I love that the pieces pop, and yet they work so well together that it seems natural. Love it! Great Job!

  • Jill
    March 6, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Sorry, I’m not a fan of this look, but it may be all that wood more than anything. I miss your old house and style ):

  • Rachel
    March 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Love it! I’m wondering if you’ll take down those shutters and go for fabric on(something breezy?) the windows, evetually?

  • Mary
    March 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I love the wall color with the wood trim but I no longer love the furniture :/ I loved the furniture before the room was painted. I find the furniture to be too cutesy/girly around this bold room. The hot pink benches look great against the black walls but the couch and pillows and chairs don’t do it for me anymore. I think if the couch were a navy blue, it would work as a nice contrast to the black walls.

    I’m excited to see this room come together though. Your taste is amazing and I am sure you’ll wow us in the end.

    Can you post updates on Eleanor’s room? I would love to see how that is coming along. Any ceiling updates for her room?

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  • Ilse
    March 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Wow, I really LOVE how it turned out, it’s just such a gorgeous black. It still looks warm and cozy and I just love how it looks with the wood. Well done! Such a great idea!

  • Sarah
    March 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I love this! I liked your old house but I really love this! I can’t wait to see what you do with the library and dinning room! And the hallway! Do you know which colors you’re going to use yet?

  • Sarah
    March 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Also I think its awesome you’re preserving the wood trim on the first floor. With that said I think if you wanted to paint the trim inside the upstairs rooms you could totally do it!

  • Dana
    March 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Can you move the colorful painting to my house? Where is that from?

  • erica
    March 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Well done, bravo! A cowhide rug might work well with the diagonal fireplace issue? Looking forward to seeing a large scale mirror above that fireplace!

  • Melissa de la Fuente
    March 6, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous. I love how selective you are & then you find just the right thing. Love those ottomans and so fun seeing everything fall into place.

  • erin @ House Envy
    March 7, 2014 at 5:31 am

    the black walls with that blue couch are incredible!

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  • Sarah
    March 7, 2014 at 9:14 am

    The black looks fantastic! Bold move and I love it.

  • J Bagley
    March 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Hi, Nicole,
    I love your site for so many reasons, but one is that you do not shy away from bold color on your walls. The room is so inviting. Your sense of style brings delightful surprises to enjoy in a relaxing way.

  • Caris
    March 7, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Wood + lots of color bursting = totally charming! The black walls did help in emphasizing the contents of the room. It feels so cozy and inviting!

  • selena@howaboutcookie
    March 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    I’ve always been so envious of your way with color! This is gorgeous.

  • Anto
    March 9, 2014 at 5:12 am

    beautiful! Love the contrast between the sofa and the walls.

  • kelly
    March 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I love the walls but I really love the settee with black and white stripes. Did you have that redone? do you know the fabric name? I would love to get my hands on some!!

  • Shavonda@AHomeFullOfColor
    March 17, 2014 at 1:39 am

    I loooove black walls. Im a sucker for moody and this is absolutely stunning. The woodwork looks amazing against the black. You have no idea how refreshing it is to see someone NOT paint their walls white nowadays:) Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Natalie
    March 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    So unexpected and absolutely gorgeous – I love it!

  • Stacia
    April 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Nicole! I know I am late to comment on this post but I thought of it as we are trying to pick our bedroom paint color. I live in Oak Park too and we just bought a little bungalow. I was thinking of going dark dark blue in our bedroom, but there is not nearly as much light there as you have in your parlor and it is a very small room. Would you recommend that for a bedroom? Or go with a lighter color? Thank you for all that you post about, it is always so inspiring to me, and congrats on the new little one!

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