Balancing Black & White

Balancing Black & White

A monochromatic black and white colour scheme has appeal to many people building or renovating as it’s seen as a classic combination that won’t date. It’s a safe choice and generally inoffensive to everyone.

Done well, it can look ultra chic, sophisticated and luxe.

However, there are still some pitfalls you want to avoid when going down the path of black and white.

  1. Equally using 50% black and 50% white. The tones will be competing against each other and the space may feel conflicted and out of whack.
  2. Not incorporating tone variations or accent colours, going too extreme with black & white. This can be one dimensional and predictable.
  3. Too many Gloss finishes. Things become very reflective and the space feels sterile and an assault on the eye.
  4. Not including natural materials like timber, leather, linen, wool to balance the harsh black and white contrast.

Here are my key tips to creating a black and white scheme of true sophistication and class;

1. Add warmth. Black and white can look very cold and stark. Make sure to use warm whites as cool whites can feel uninviting and make you feel uncomfortable. Adding timber will instantly transform the look of your space and create visual interest and texture which black and white screams out for. Timber bar stools, timber floating shelves, timber floors and timber furniture are all simple places you can add warmth.

2. Choose either black OR white to be the dominant colour of the space, outweighing the other. For example, 70% whites, 20% blacks and 10% accents like brass, timber, metal. You don’t want the space to feel half white half black, so let one colour be the dominant tone and the other the accent. This is a much more successful way to achieve a black and white scheme.

3. Layer your tones and create a design statement. Go all out with black upon black but make sure there are tonal and textural differences, then add your white as a feature only, like this lovely sheer curtain;

4. Add texture in your whites. Panelled cabinetry as opposed to flat, white concretes, terrazzo, woven cushions, linen drapes, shaggy rugs, marble stone tops. Texture will help create dimension and interest in your monotone scheme.

5. Use clean lines in your blacks. Black doesn’t look so good in big blobs, so choose your furniture and styling wisely. Slender legs on a stool, pendant lighting, and clearly defined lounge or chair will all look much more elegant than thick, chunky pieces.

6. For a failsafe black and white scheme choose white for your fixtures and style with your blacks. All your fixed pieces – tiles, stone, cabinetry, these are the items that are costly to change, so keep them whites, then style with black accent pieces such as pendant lights, bar stools, cushions and side tables. You don’t need a lot of black to create a black and white scheme. The styling can always change as these items can be replaced easily if required and then you can decide to try a more coastal or neutral palette.

Here are some inspiring examples of black and white schemes:

Back to blog