Black and white interior design has the power to give your home a lasting impression. Designers regularly incorporate this two-tone color theme into their creations to enliven 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 glamor into a space, and one of the best ways to do that is to use 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 together so they act as a neutral.” He adds that black and white interior design is ideal when used as a backdrop for other colors to pop.
Here, nine tips on how to incorporate these classic hues into your home.
Harmonize black and white tones
“All blacks and whites are not created equal,” says Ariane Bellizaire, interior designer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When choosing your “relative” whites and blacks, pay attention to undertones. If your walls have a hint of oiliness, make sure the whites of your upholstery and other accessories have oiliness too. “Pairing pure white with off-white will kill the effortlessly sophisticated vibe you might have been looking for,” says Bellizaire. “Similarly, if the black in your light fixtures has a tan undertone, make sure the blacks in chair legs, tables, and lamps also have that depth.”
Try the houndstooth
Varney says houndstooth upholstery is a great choice when looking to incorporate a black and white palette. “I think this model packs a lot of punch,” he says. “It looks great on a set of chairs, on a sofa, or as a cushion on a section, and works well with solid fabrics.” According to Varney, you don’t have to upholster every piece of furniture in houndstooth, you can mix and match freely while evoking a grounded look.
Pair black floors with white walls
According to Varney, one of the easiest ways to incorporate black and white colors into an interior is to have blackened or black lacquered floors contrasted with crisp white walls. “Add a large white rug and a set of wingback chairs in a bright color like lime green or aqua,” says Varney. “You will have a classic style space that you can live with for a long time.”
Add warmth with natural elements
A black and white interior design does not mean cold and austere. If the base of your design scheme bears these high-contrast colors, find ways to infuse warmth into your space by adding nature wherever possible. Bellizaire suggests doing this by choosing a warm medium brown wood floor or adding vibrant flowers to a beautiful vase.
Install a checkerboard floor
Varney says one of her favorite Dorothy Draper looks is a black and white checkered floor. “It instantly adds interest to any room and can make all the difference,” 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 actually is. Checkered floors work particularly well in an entrance hall, living room or kitchen.
Put it on pow in the bathroom
A black and white palette in a powder room gives the space an immediate wow factor. Turn a basic all-white bathroom into a Parisian enclave by adding black accent pieces like a jet mirror frame or custom black and white towels. Remodeling? Add white marble and matte black hardware, even a black dresser. Up the glamor quotient with crystal sconces. Fat black and white patterned wallpaper further transforms the small space.
Adopt the stripes
Wide, glossy black and white stripes on the walls bring a playful element to any room, Varney says of Draper’s classic look. Juxtapose striped walls with black and white furniture and a striking red rug, for example. You can also paint the baseboard and chair rails white, the ceiling black, and add 15-inch-wide black and white stripes on the walls, connecting the chair rail to the ceiling. “It gives the space a cohesive look,” says Varney.
Don’t overlook other colors
Black and white may be the dominant theme, but your space should include accent colors, they bring a touch of the unexpected. Bright hues also add visual depth and texture to a room. Showcase vibrant colors in artwork, throw pillows or a trendy vase.
Mix B/W decor with flowers
Keep interiors lively with a floral touch. Incorporating all-white flowers into a black container 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 Tulips queen of the night in a white ceramic vase.