Often times in design, we collectively gravitate towards one end of the spectrum or the other; to spaces that are either light and airy or conversely dark and moody.
However, there is something special about striking a balance between the two by incorporating both extremes to create a high-contrast space.
A black and white palette is of course timeless and classic with endless possibilities from subdued to dramatic. It is a color combination that never goes out of style and works in any space. Decorating a room in black and white immediately delivers a sophisticated, updated and fresh look.
I particularly love a black and white scheme in smaller rooms such as powder rooms or a home study where the combination can really pack a punch.
The key to pulling off a high-contrast black and white room in your home is to create warmth and depth by incorporating unique décor and materials in a wide range of textures.
To keep the space from looking too “graphic” it is important to use varying shades and finishes throughout (for example, a midnight black hi-gloss trim, a matte charcoal wall, natural linen fabrics, and creamy white accents.)
I wanted to share a fun home office project that truly has been a study in contrast. Instead of opting for a more traditional black and white room scheme where the backdrop is white and the accents black, we sort of reversed engineered it by cocooning the entire room in black and contrasting it with warm creams, tropical inspired natural textures, antique accents and unique artwork.
To prevent a "heavy" looking solid black wall, we selected a black grasscloth wallpaper and it paired with painted black matte wainscotting in Sherwin Williams Iron Ore, a great off-black/deep charcoal color that truly looks good everywhere!
Drawing inspiration from this original artwork by Elan Byrd, (which incorporates natural materials like seagrass, raffia and dried palm) off we went with a natural, tropical and slightly exotic design direction.
Each surface incorporates a different textural element while remaining in the neutral palette. The black leather desk chair juxtaposed against the natural woven rug and cerused light wooden desk top is a great play on contrast.
The "tropical" and "exotic" elements subtly carry through to the accessories like the natural horn vase and ostrich feathered linen pillow.
This cabinet will of course eventually house some practical work items which we will likely store in beautiful woven boxes but the piece will primarily serve as a display for personal photo frames, book collections, heirloom objects and a mix of interesting and beautiful accessories like those we have sourced above.
With its dark and light material combination, this particular cabinet worked perfectly with our scheme and it pops beautifully off of the dark walls.
The unique wall art, an African Juju hat and a Sailor's Valentine (shell artwork original to Barbados) adds another layer of interest and again provides deep contrast against the black walls.
The amazing fabric selected for the roman shades (from Schumacher's very appropriately named Copacabana Collection) was also a big driving force. It really continued the 'subtle exotic' theme and was the perfect pairing next to the 'Cool Down' photograph and this new woven mirror from Selamat Designs.
We also made sure to pump in some pattern to break up the heaviness of the furniture, add dimension and of course an element of fun to the room. To round it out and add in some "old" to the space we selected vintage table lamps in completely different materials (brass with a velvet shade for the desk lamp and a plaster base for the credenza lamp).
Here is how it came together and all sources are linked below:
Grasscloth Wallpaper | Black Paint | Roman Shade Fabric | Shade Trim | Throw Pillows |
Floor Lamp | Framed Artwork | Monstera Leaf | Mirror | Credenza | Ceiling Pendant | Antique Plaster Table Lamp | Horn Vase | Candle | Area Rug | Framed Photograph | Vintage Desk Lamp | Chair | Chair Pillow | Juju Hat | Shell Wall Art | Cabinet | Decorative Horn | Box | Picture Frame | Wooden Bowl | Sculpture | Amethyst Bowl