How to Work a Black and White Interior

There’s nothing more dramatic than a classic black and white interior. It’s one of my favourite combinations. And the reason I’ve systematically moved around the house with a loaded black paint brush in recent years. In a contemporary space, black and white will add interest and much needed contrast. While in a period home, black and white will accentuate all of those lovely traditional details. And while I’m a big fan of this winning combination it can sometimes result in a cold and rather harsh looking interior (and one of the reasons I’ll avoid black and white stripes at all costs). But in the right hands it can be the most welcoming scheme of all. Here’s my tips on how to work it.

How to Work a Black and White Interior


Add Some Warm Wood Accents

Adding some wood to the scheme will soften all of those hard edges and create a warmer feeling. It’s so easy to do. After all there’s that great big expanse of floor to cover and what better way than to add wood underfoot. Failing that make sure to add some wood furniture into the mix. I might be a wizard with the paintbrush and black satin paint on old furniture, but you can overdo it. Use a little restraint and keep at least one piece of wooden furniture in a room. The older and shinier the better. Did you know that dark wood is making a comeback?

How to Work a Black and White Interior


Think About Proportions of Colour

There’s no right or wrong decision about colour and proportions. It’s a question of taste. I actually like a half-and-half approach in this instance. Which is why I’ve painted my bedroom white above an imaginary dado rail and black below. It’s what my personal taste feels is most pleasing to the eye. Same goes for the room above. Those two black alcoves have added even more symmetry to the period details. While the white rug and black sofa and armchairs are also perfectly balanced.

How to Work a Black and White Interior


You may feel that you prefer a mostly white scheme with highlights and accents of black. The black four poster bed in the image above makes a punchy statement against the white walls and window blinds. While the black blanket and pendant light add just the right amount of black accents without sending the whole scheme too far one way.

How to Work a Black and White Interior


Or you may want to go the whole hog over to the darker side with dark walls and highlights of white. I love this look too. This room has all the elements I would add to a black and white scheme. A wooden floor, lots of personal mementos, green plants, and lots of texture. Just imagine how cosy this would be on a chilly Autumn night.

Add Texture

Texture is another designer trick to soften a scheme and add interest without adding another colour. Or more of the same colour. The way light falls on different textures will differ, so that white fur will look slightly different to white linen. Or black velvet will look much deeper and more intense than say, black leather. Texture adds layers of interest, so don’t scrimp on the soft furnishings, and don’t fill a room with furniture made of the same material. Mix it up as much as possible. And especially so when you are using a monochrome colour palette.

How to Work a Black and White Interior


Add Other Items of Interest

A room without art and decorative objects is a room with no personality. This is true whatever colour scheme you decide on. Your personal mementos, art, books and holiday souvenirs tell the story of your life so far. They should be added to often. Sometimes you will subtract too, as your tastes change and if things become a little crowded. But they are as important as every other aspect of the scheme. Resist the urge to stick to black and white here too. Just add the things you love, you are not dressing a shop window. This is your home.

Image Details

1.Arundel Table £2,250, Arundel Bench £715, Keats Pendant £90, Beatrix Cushion £41, Tussock Sheepskin Rug.

2. George Sofa in Harris Tweed Bilbury £2,760, Amelia Armchair in Isla Swallow £735, Keswick Coffee Table £785, Keswick Console £950.

3. Wardley Bed in Painted Ink from £1,615, Cotswold Herringbone Throw in Old Rose £120, Keats Pendant in Bronze. 

4. Harris Tweed Caspar Armchair in Bilbury £1,805, Beswick Ceramic Stool £120, Ravenhead Rectangular Mirror £520.

5. Hebden Trestle Table in Chalked Oak and Ink £1,010, Keats Pendant Bronze £90, Brompton Desk Lamp in Brass £140, Sefton Throw in Cobble £175.

All from Neptune.


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