By Noemi Zarb
Sharp. Linear. Confident. There is something sublime about black and white (except for foxy prints or spots) because it makes the statement of statements. In fact the combination of these extreme polarities: black negating all colours/white encompassing all colours can never be casual. As in the couture world, the monochrome look in the world of interiors is seriously architectural and requires a lot of poise.
Tag Farnborough Airport, LONDON, Photograph Anthony Weller - Archimage
So working with these two colours requires heaps of time/thinking/self-criticism and, moreover, an intrinsic bon ton which you're either born with or
forget it. Having spelt out this tall order, anyone who feels black and white fits the bill or dares to take the plunge is in for a décor that emanates infinite nuances of feeling stark yet in control, serene but open to suggestions - if you get it right.
|Habachy Designs, The Royal Nightclub, ATLANTA, Photograph Alex Martinez
More than any colour combination, the basic prerequisites of space and the amount of natural light available plus the shape of the room/s and what you intend using them for are crucial.
Like any dark colour, a black overdose will make any space look smaller so it's best to keep it to a minimum if your rooms are undersized and dim. Here your monochrome options may translate into black accessories such as a light fitting, ornament, small occasional piece of furniture, or a black touch in upholstery, duvets, throws and carpets - all emphasised by splashes of white and more white.
Hand-carved Manta Bench by Phases Africa
The more adventurous might experiment with a series of black geometrical lines painted on the walls/doors or simply paint wooden beams black. This effect can be really stunning if you live in an old house blessed with very high ceilings.
Space and light considerations apart, the idea of black ceilings is far too intimidating for most people, though I have seen it work quite well. However, I feel that all-black ceilings in many spaces are the answer, only if you want to give full vent to a vampire personality or live like a mole. (Besides, they will be difficult to paint over with another colour.)
By contrast, using black in flooring is easier and more versatile though what you choose to cover your floor with tends to be one of the more permanent features in your home. Again you have to be careful if you're faced with limited floor space. Still this should not stop you from going for a speckled or mosaic effect or better still polychrome stones that combine a variety of textures.
Large floor areas of course can take an expanse of black whether glossy or matt surfaces; or the delicious sinking into a super soft and luxuriously thick carpet if you're thinking main bedrooms. (Practicality and the need for low maintenance preclude the use of dark carpets from frequently used areas.) Once again there is something definitely stylish in monochrome floors laid out in large rooms or open plans.
Serenity 11, Aquatic Industries, Inc.
The winning ticket of black and white also relies on the play of textures and the spot-on focus of introducing bits of colour, especially if you want to heighten the elegance of this colour scheme without undoing its balance. Heavy black drapes and black bulky furniture unsurprisingly create a sombre feel despite being set off against an all-white interior. You can avoid this by teaming up both stout and delicate furniture with ephemeral drapes.
But the ultimate in monochrome magic is to keep it light and uncluttered, complemented with sleek glass and sleeker mirrors.
- Neomi Zarb, Freelance Feature Writer Specialising in Design and Interiors
Additional Dezignare' References: Draper, Dorothy (1889 - 1969)