Black and White is Alright!


"I have always dreamed of decorating my house in black and white," confides Amanda of Newmarket. "My fear is that it's not in style and that the colours I select will be cold.  What do you think?"

Always in style, black and white are good neutrals that used in the right proportions can be either modern or traditional.  Amanda, know that the style of your home will be determined by the furniture and material selections you make, not necessarily the colours you choose. 

Here are some tips to help you create a warm, welcoming black and white palette in your home:

§  Don't get caught up with establishing a perfectly equal balance between the amount of white and black used in a room.  If you use equal amounts, you run the risk of creating a checkerboard look.  It's best to select one primary hue in the room and then use the other as a secondary colour.  Know that for most people, it is easier to live with and maintain lighter walls than darker ones that can become heavy looking over time.

§  Use the walls in your home as the backdrop or canvas for the space, creating a foundation for the colour palette and allowing all other hues in the room to easily stand out.  With white as the predominant wall colour, try the combination of Benjamin Moore CC-30 (Oxford White) on all baseboards and casings paired with Benjamin Moore Grandma’s China (CSP-365) on the walls or consider Behr’s Ultra Pure White (1850) for a crisp white look throughout.

§  If you feel strongly that you want black on the walls, play it safe and opt for a dark grey accent wall like Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (SW7674) behind a major black furniture grouping.  Offset the dark accent wall with white adjacent walls in Sherwin Williams Zurich White (SW7626).

§  Make sure the space does not feel too stark by introducing an alternate neutral colour in the room.  For example, light-to-mid-tone natural woods (whether it be in flooring material or in wood furniture), light brown/tan area rugs, mid-tone grey toss pillows or throws gives your eyes something to focus on and softens the high-contrast elements of the space.  A pop of colour or a neutral element will only serve to highlight the colour theme.  Light wood finishes coupled with a white and black palette will provide a calming element to the room creating a more relaxed aesthetic.

§  Be assured that mixing whites is not a bad thing, but be cautious about how creamy-yellow the whites you select become.  Tints of white mixed with tones of black, grey and a selection of metallic materials or dark woods will help you establish rooms that are interesting with punches of drama.

§  In general, if you choose chrome, stainless steel or silver accents or anything that has a glossy lacquered finish; a predominantly modern aesthetic is being created.  Should you want a more traditional looking home, introduce smatterings of vintage elements like old-gold or chrome lighting with dangling crystals and drum shades, an antique clock or light lace draperies.

§  In a more traditional home, consider using materials like Carrera marble hexagon tiles on bathroom floors set against Sherwin Williams Rhinestone (SW7656) walls, black or grey shaker or recessed panel cabinets in a colour like Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal (HC-166).

§  For more modern spaces, look to white polished tiles or black high-gloss ceramics, Nero Assoluto polished counters or a waterfall countertop treatment made from white quartz (like Caesarstone Blizzard – 2141) and couple with flat panel cabinet doors.  Mix with an accent of pungent orange, green or red to offset the palette.

§  Do not for any reason make one room modern and one room traditional.  Carefully mixing these elements throughout your home can establish a more eclectic look.

§  Know that maintaining whites will take effort.  Depending on their contents, white fabrics can yellow over time.  Make sure you are prepared to replace your whites and repaint the walls as needed in order to keep the space looking fresh and clean.

§  Add interest and warmth to the space by using textures such as quilting on bedding or coverlets, tone-on-tone patterning on wallpaper and chair fabrics and natural wool pillows or throws.

§  Ensure that you're using appropriate lighting when establishing a room that has primarily dark elements.  Layered, flexible lighting options will help alleviate what can be an otherwise dark, heavy appearance and can make any space more dramatic and cozy.



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