A perfect backdrop for all other shades and finishes, black and white are a perfect pairing, one reflecting all wavelengths of light, the other absorbing it – the very absence of visible light. Technically neither are colours, though that in no way makes them boring.
Interior Styling | Black and White
This sophisticated combination - contrasting yet complimentary, formal yet informal refined yet casual - can anchor an interior project large or small. Black and white is so intriguing as it transcends trends, and can be used in differing ways to suit your unique personal style whether contemporary or traditional, maximalist or minimalist, mid-century or modern. It is a malleable combo that can support and elevate any theme.
Whilst striking and dramatic the opposing nature of black and white is an exciting palette to work with.Many individual designs within our collections utilize black to form focal points with white creating negative space for other design elements to take centre stage. In the same way within your interiors, there is something clean, refreshing, almost palate cleansing about the inclusion of black and white which can let key finishes, colours or special features within the space become the focus of the eye.
Black and white offers the ability to create strong bold environments or toned down spaces. Adding more white furnishings for a softer natural feel, a black and white combo can extend your interior scheme and be toned up or down in intensity, depending on the weighting you give to either element.
Combining different textural layers of fabrics creates a luxurious welcoming space, a subtle way to add depth and interest even if the palette is restrained. Interesting mixes of weaves and constructions can also often black and white, often relegated to a hard edged aesthetic.
Let’s explore some of our collections …
A contemporary style can be defined by a deliberate use of texture, scale and line, using the strength of black and white to create weight and substance and compliment and mirror architectural elements.
Our drapery, upholstery and wallpaper offerings let you experiment with texture, tone, pattern density and layering in this realm. The crispness of black and white also makes it a wonderful opportunity to mix with pattern.
In our photography for the Complexity Collection we mixed our striking plain upholstery Bedford, with the strong geometry of Venture and Edition - both bold striking designs, over scaled and woven to meet commercial standards. The strong combination ensures an eclectic, memorable statement. We also photographed this entire collection in black and white to maximise the graphic effect.
Anchoring your space with art work will complement your finishes and layering accessories and rugs helps pull it all together.
Another great example from James Dunlop is design Crossroads. Edgy and modern, Crossroads creates a crisp strong statement using angles and lines to create directional movement across the ground cloth, creating a play between the strength of the line work and the calmness of the negative spaces created. The stitch work is offered in two intensities, giving a choice in design definition.
When styling the shoot, we played around with depth and intensity for a range of shots so we could play with light and dark and provide a variety of looks to select from. It’s always striking how simple one tiny change can be within a space. Simply by altering the foreground cushion colour you can immediately shift the feeling in the space by working with the pattern behind – as shown here with two contrasting shots of the same vignette.
A little bit about Black
Black is absent of light, but contains all colours so is the perfect strong neutral to work with.
Traditionally black has been used as an accent colour, though today black holds centre stage in many interiors as a strong and dramatic base for almost every substrate and application.
It’s the perfect back drop for styling photography, art and ceramic collections drawing you in. Colour, texture, form, all “pop” against a strong grounding black base and despite conventional thinking, dark walls can actually make a small room appear larger as dark colours visually recede tricking the eye. It certainly pays to be brave!
The stitch work in Venise is thoughtfully placed to emulate a traditional lace pattern anchored on a strong black base. The contrast cleverly balances modern with traditional. Perfect as graphic cushioning (less can be more with styling black and white on occasion).
But what about white?
White is absent of colour but reflects all light. This seemingly simple combination produces a contrast that is anything but simple. White is clean and fresh it evokes renewal and vitality. It feels fresh and alive, calming and crisp. It bounces light and will pick up on the colours around it. White creates a feeling of relief and vibrancy.
A painterly, almost photographic image is transformed into weave in this jacquard construction where a jagged flame stitch effect bleeds white in to black. This incredible cloth reads as a horizontal stripe however the up and own rhythm of the embroidered aspect draws the eye vertically and softens any hard edges you may expect between the black and white elements.
Get Creative - dare we mention 50 Shades of Grey? Preferably not BUT greys are a wonderful way to inject interest and movement to a black and white strong theme, diluting or intensifying the effect through layering.
Grey can prove to be a gentler approach if you love the idea of a monochrome scheme and a black and white aesthetic is too powerful for you and intensity can be easy to play with, and can be linked back to licks of black and white here and there through pattern.
Tips and Tricks
Start small with accessory items such as cushions, lampshades or bedding. Experiment with stripes and herringbones as these are classics, guaranteed never to be out of style. Mixing small and large scale patterns, or checks with solids is an easy way to create lots of visual interest and texture within a space. Adding trim is a super simple inclusion for subtle elegance and a low commitment level of pattern.
Layer this together until it feels right for you. Often with experimentation you A. have fun and B. create a super look.
When using black and white in your home try linking these into other rooms so there is a visual thread connecting the spaces, either subtly as accessories or a roman blind keeping the balance and rhythm going over the entire interior. It could be a black vase, a white lampshade, a collection of books with black and white spines or a black or white candle. The impact of black and white is immediate - catching the eye and giving freshness. Adding foliage flowers or plants will add to the feeling of vitality.
Lighting is also really important to enliven a black and white scheme, giving certain items focus and emphasising the contrast of each.
If you need to add a bit of zing and punch accent colours electrify and add energy – you can throw any shade in with black and white, which makes it a great base if you wish to change the tone of your space from time to time with a change in wall colour or new cushions.
We particularly love mixing ochre, copper, gold or teal to our monochromatic schemes as they have a tendency to really shine here.
Mixing matte surfaces with glossier materials can provide depth and interest to a monochrome setting – matte wools contrast well against polished glass, soft linen against the bright richness of satin.
Black and white offers you near limitless styling choices and never fails to add impact and structure. Give it a try, reach out for ideas, trust yourself, and have fun experimenting!