Monday, February 21, 2011

My rules for "Black and White" design

black and white doesn't have to be cold....

Black and white design can be kind of tricky. Too much true black and pure white and nothing else, and you have a very cold and uninviting interior. Black rooms can be wicked awesome to look at, but remember, someone has to live there. Take it from 'she who had black ceilings' for seven years, until two weekends ago. Many of my friends asked me 'why are you painting over that?'. True, it was a very dramatic and mysterious look, especially when entertaining. But also true, very dark and depressing to live with on a daily basis. There were times in the day when we needed flashlights to get to the linen closet. Initially, I may have been revolting against my 80s pastel upbringing, but somewhere along the way I got hooked.
I don't think black and white is going's a timeless and classic combination, which explains why I have been to soooo many black and white weddings in the last 10 years.
I know I love it, I've have had some incarnation of black and white in every house I've lived in. It seems to be a 'go to' for me. I'll never tire of it,but I have learned some tricks to decorating with these two strong colors.
1. Add a green element, by way of houseplants. This cuts the harshness and softens the edges, so to speak. via
2. Inject a shot or red. Red is equal in boldness to black and white, so they are natural companions. via
3. Use 'off white' instead of white. This adds an element of softness and age.
via Kelley Interior Design Service
4. Let white dominate. Visually only about 25% of the space is taken up by black here. This creates an almost summery kind of lightness that is very pleasing. The addition of wooden accessories softens the mood too. via Elizabeth Anne Designs
5. Introduce the happy medium of gray. I think gray is the new brown, it shouldn't be too difficult to find gray accessories and objects to introduce into your interior. Yellow is a perfect counterpart to gray, add a tiny splash for visual punch. via

6. Try a focal wall in 'almost black'. Sherwin Williams 'Black Fox' is an amazing 'not quite black' color that adds a hint of warmth. via
7. Punctuate with white trim. Wide crown mould and other trims in this room keep the look crisp and formal. The addition of the turquoise chairs and detail on the drapes adds more visual excitement. via

8. Throw in another bright chartreuse....

or green...... designer, Sarah Richardson
or Tiffany blue and hot pink! designer, Judith Balis
9. Try stripes! I love these stripes and I love the way they also go across the front of the desk. Filing this idea away for later! via


  1. Great ideas, Elizabeth!

    P.S. Your boyfriend sure sounds like a keeper!

  2. Ann....he is a dreamboat, that is for sure!

  3. I'm looking at using SW Black Fox in my dining room. Is this a color that you have used?

  4. Yes I have Karen, it's a beautiful near black. I often times mix it in with glazes as well to darken other colors.