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5 Ways to Design with Black and White

From accent walls to finishes, black and white are the new darlings of home design.

By Ettie Berneking | Photos by Brandon Alms, courtesy 5908 Home Furnishings

Nov 2017

Much like ketchup and mustard and coffee and cream, black and white are the power couple of the color world. “Black and white is timeless,” says homeowner Brittany Kingery, who has added black and white detailing to her bathroom, wood floors and trim. “It’s been used as a color scheme for flooring for hundreds of years.” As Patti Johnson, interior designer and owner of 5908 Home Furnishings (2144 E. Republic Road, Springfield, 417-889-5908) says, “Black and white can be stunning by itself, but it also makes a good background for your color of choice.” So how can you incorporate this timeless hit into your home’s aesthetic? We’re here to help with a few tips and tricks from Kingery and Johnson. 

Go Graphic
Not only do black and white elements add contrast to a room, but Kingery says they also serve as a graphic element that can update an otherwise traditional space. You can even find black and white wallpaper. “A textured wallpaper in either black or white adds the color without any jarring pattern,” Johnson says. If you’ve already added texture or pattern to the room, don’t fret. Kingery embraces mixing patterns, especially with black and white elements. “It works well with other patterns like florals and plaids, so it’s a good base for pattern mixing,” she says.

Consider The Space
For small rooms, Johnson suggests using black accents though she uses white in large spaces. But it’s not just the size of the room to keep in mind during your planning. “Think carefully about what will be on or against the black wall,” Kingery says. “The dark color will recede, so choosing light-colored accents will help them pop even more.”

Embrace Diversity
Give a room extra style by incorporating different colors and patterns, but when adding in black or white, “choose one or the other color for the majority of your room,” Johnson says. “Having too many different elements of both colors is unsettling.” If you’re wondering what tones to pair with your black and white scheme, you’re in luck. Kingery has found the color combo loves saturated and muted colors, like gold or brass, and warm woods. “If you have any of these elements, black and white is bound to be a great addition.”

Find Balance
For anyone considering an accent wall, consider the balance of the space. “A black wall is a definite statement, so you need other strong elements in the room to balance it,” Kingery says. “[Add] art, furniture or architectural elements like a window or door to break up the expanse.”

If you’re intrigued by the black and white color scheme but aren’t yet ready to pull the plug and paint a whole wall black, Kingery suggests experimenting with accent pieces first. “Rugs and curtains are always one of my favorite ways to experiment with a style in a non-permanent way,” she says.”As far as I’m concerned, you can’t really go wrong with a black and white stripe.”
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