Colour of the Year season is always hotly anticipated. Every fall, experts from leading paint brands announce their picks, a.k.a. the hues that will define the way millions of people will decorate their homes in the months and years to come. From fashion to interior design to entertainment and politics, every cultural shift (as well as the previous year’s paint sales) influence these palettes. It signals that a fresh start—and for decor enthusiasts, a fresh coat of paint—is right around the corner. These announcements typically feature a spectrum of pretty pastels and punchy brights, but for the past couple of years, understated, timeless colours have gained popularity. And as much as we love bold hues, there’s something to be said for neutrals you won’t be itching to paint over as soon as the next trend comes along.
When selecting the star of its 2024 line-up, the Behr team was looking for a versatile colour that was easy to incorporate into an existing decor scheme. Building on the popularity of last year’s colour—a warm and creamy off-white called Blank Canvas—they opted for Cracked Pepper, a soft black hue. While black may seem like a bold choice, the surprisingly warm and mellow hue makes for a livable paint colour that’s practical without being boring.
“[With Cracked Pepper], you can layer in other colors that you may have in your home already and keep evolving,” explains Erika Woelfel, the brand’s vice president of colour and creative services. “[People] want things that have longevity,” adds Sarah Fishburne, the director of trend and design at The Home Depot, where the brand is exclusively sold. She also notes that consumers have increasingly been seeking darker shades to update their homes.
Depending on the setting, Cracked Pepper evokes a connection with nature, brings a sophisticated touch or lends a cozy vibe. Depending on the light, it shifts from a true black to a charcoal grey to a rich navy to a deep evergreen. This ever-changing quality makes the moody black shade a great canvas to experiment with different decor styles. “This is a colour that easily goes with all of it and that doesn’t feel forced,” says Fishburne.
Ready to embrace this high-impact paint colour? Here are five expert-approved ways to paint it black without regrets.
Whether you’re looking for a new wall colour or a small accent detail, there’s no wrong way to use a soft inky hue like Cracked Pepper. If you’re intimidated, start with a small project. Think “a piece of furniture, an accent wall, a guest bathroom or an island in a white kitchen,” says Woelfel.
Find the perfect pairing
Along with the Colour of the Year, Behr has also revealed its 2024 colour trends palette, a collection of 14 paint hues—from a rich olive green to a sunny terracotta to a light baby blue—that pair well with its top pick and showcase its versatility.
For trim and cabinetry, the off-whites and light neutrals (Whipped Cream, Weathered White, Even Better Beige, Tranquil Gray) are timeless options, while nature-inspired blues (Provence Blue, Laguna Blue) create an elevated coastal look.
But the most unexpected Cracked Pepper pairing—pastels (like Malted or Offshore Mist)—might just be Fishburne’s favourite. “It anchors these lighter colours and grounds them, because if you put too many together they can get just a little too sweet.”
Warm up your whites
Ready to move on from the minimalist, all-white look? You’re not alone. “We’re seeing a huge shift away from stark and into more of a tactile, organic and warmer aesthetic,” notes Fishburne.
The good news is that you don’t need to make drastic changes to warm up your space; a couple of coats of Cracked Pepper on your walls paired with warmer light bulbs and a few wooden accents in honeyed tones will go a long way in making a room feel inviting.
Embrace quiet luxury
“Quiet luxury,” a term borrowed from the fashion world, refers to the understated elegance of classic cuts and quality fabrics over the brashness of logo-mania. Thanks to its dramatic and moody feel, Cracked Pepper is the perfect way to bring this aesthetic to your home. For polished results, Woelfel recommends pairing it with warm neutrals, such as Chic Taupe, a hue that’s the perfect balance of brown and grey.
Thanks to its earthy, organic undertones, Cracked Pepper is also a great exterior paint. It’s a decidedly modern hue when splashed across the whole house, but paired with red brick, it leans more traditional. For a small project with a big payoff, Fishburne suggests painting your front door and shutters.