Why Your Teenager Wants a Black Room

Yes, teenagers were put here to test us. In fact that is their modus operandi. It is a near decade and sometimes more of fierce individuation that helps us grown-ups work on the virtue of patience.

Naturally, the best course of action is to pick your battles. Your son got his license yesterday and wants to take the car loaded with half a dozen pals across the country to a massive music festival? Maybe not. He’d like to quit school and start a garage band? Probably no. But he wants to turn his room into a black cave so he can brood over these injustices? Why not? It’s only paint.

Here are a few more reasons why they might want black:

1. As self-expression becomes more important, kids — especially tweens and teens — search for ways to make a statement and stand out in a crowd.

2. A desire to maintain control.

3. Black makes them feel less vulnerable, forming a protective shield and anonymity around them, private and safe.

Besides, black walls are current and chic. Style aficionados like J Crew’s Jenna Lyons are painting their rooms black. It is the ultimate in cool, what teenager doesn’t want that? And it looks great with classic white or wood furniture and all kinds of graphic posters and concert memorabilia imaginable. Balance it with a light graphic area rug, lots of white textiles and some reflective surfaces. Add a pile of clothes and some casually stashed electronics and voila, the perfect disheveled cool.

killamBlack is all cool and reserve yet black rooms certainly have drama. But since it is technically neutral, it is not as intense and fatiguing as say a scarlet red or hot pink room.

While it can be heavy and require some visual balancing, it is surprisingly easy going and works well with neutral tones, pales and brights alike. It mingles well with all kinds of wood tones and warm and cool metallics too.

Black chalkboard or magnetic paint on one wall can also be a compromise and then it’ll get covered with posters anyway!

You can actually have a lot of fun decorating a black room. But, ahem, of course you will want to leave most of that to your fiercely opinionated teenager.


The teen years are somewhat of a chrysalis, a heavy black cocoon to shut out the overstimulation of the world and focus on her budding inner life might be just what’s called for. It is her private space and if you hate the way it looks, close the door.

But you might find that it makes you want to watch French movies and dress like Kate Moss.

Maria Killam is the Founder and CEO of Understanding Undertones. She is a decorator, author, speaker and internationally sought after colour expert. Transform the way you see colour at mariakillam.com