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Black-and-white interior design has the power to give your home a lasting impression. Designers regularly incorporate this two-tone color theme in their designs to wake up interiors. The beauty of using black-and-white is that the palette is flexible and can look mod or classic, depending on how you use it.
“I always like to inject glamour into a space, and one of the best ways to do this is with a black-and-white palette,” says Carleton Varney, president of the design firm Dorothy Draper & Company. “It’s extremely versatile, so you can create a bold dramatic effect or pair them in such a way that they act as a neutral.” He adds that black-and-white interior design is great when used as a backdrop for other colors to pop.
Here, nine tips on how to incorporate these classic hues in your home.
Match black-and-white tones
“Not all blacks and whites are created equal,” says Arianne Bellizaire, interior designer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When choosing your “relative” whites and blacks, pay attention to the undertones. If your walls have a hint of creaminess to them, make sure that the whites in your upholstery pieces and other accessories also have creaminess. “Pairing a stark white with an off-white will kill the effortlessly sophisticated vibe you might have been going for,” Bellizaire says. “Similarly, if the black in your fixtures has a bronzy undertone, make sure that the blacks on chair legs, tables, and lamps also have that depth.”
Varney says that houndstooth upholstery is a great go-to when you’re looking to incorporate a black-and-white palette. “I find that this pattern packs a lot of punch,” he says. “It looks great on a set of chairs, on a sofa, or as a throw pillow on a sectional, and works well with solid fabrics.” You don’t have to upholster every piece of furniture in houndstooth, according to Varney—you can mix and match freely and still evoke a grounded look.
Pair black floors with white walls
One of the easiest ways to incorporate black and white colors into an interior, according to Varney, is to have ebonized or black lacquered floors contrast against stark white walls. “Add a great white rug and a set of wingback chairs in a bright color like lime green or aqua,” Varney says. “You will have a classic style space that you can live with for a long time.”
Add warmth with natural elements
Black-and-white interior design doesn’t have to mean cold and stark. If the base of your design scheme carries these high-contrast colors, find ways to infuse your space with warmth by adding nature where possible. Bellizaire suggests doing this by choosing a warm medium-tone brown wood floor or adding vibrant flowers to a beautiful vase.
Install a checkered floor
Varney says that one of his favorite Dorothy Draper looks is a black-and-white checkered floor. “This instantly adds interest to any room and can make as big of a statement,” he says, pointing out that the size of the squares has its own impact. An 18-inch square tile placed diagonally, for example, elevates a space and creates the illusion that the room is larger than it really is. Checkered floors work particularly well in an entrance hall, living room, or kitchen.
Put the pow in the powder room
A black-and-white palette in a powder room gives the space an immediate wow factor. Transform a basic all-white bathroom into a Parisian enclave by adding black accent pieces like a jet mirror frame or bespoke black-and-white towels. Remodeling? Add white marble and matte black hardware, even a noir commode. Up the glamour quotient with crystal sconces. Bold black-and- white patterned wallpaper transforms the small space further.
Wide, glossy black-and-white stripes on walls bring a playful element into any room, Varney says of the classic Draper look. Juxtapose striped walls with black-and-white furniture and a striking red carpet, for example. Alternatively, paint the baseboard and chair rails white, the ceiling black, and add 15-inch-wide black-and-white stripes to the walls, connecting the chair rail to the ceiling. “This gives the space a cohesive look,” Varney says.
Don’t neglect other colors
Black-and-white may be the dominant theme, but your space should include accent colors—they bring in a touch of the unexpected. The bright hues also add depth and visual texture to a room. Showcase vibrant colors in artwork, throw pillows, or a statement vase.
Mix up B/W decor with flowers
Keep the interiors lively with floral flair. Incorporating all-white flowers in a black vessel adds personality to black-and-white interior design. Voluminous carnations, roses, and peonies give off romantic vibes. White flowers with black centers—think Black-eyed Susan and anemones—add a graphic element. For major drama, flip the spectrum with a small bouquet of black calla lilies or Queen of Night tulips in a white ceramic vase.