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7 Simple Ways to Decorate with Black and White

Linda is a seasoned writer and bedroom authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Do you have the guts to do an entire room in black and white? Decorating with this bold combination is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it might be best to start small—maybe with an accent like a vase, decorative box or lamp.

In most design circles, black and white style suggests timeless drama for the home. This duo is equally comfortable in retro, eclectic, contemporary or traditional homes. Whether you choose a little or a lot, black and white style will definitely make a design statement.

As you feel more confident, gradually incorporate an ottoman, rug or even a grouping of black and white prints into the space. For some, this level of saturation may be enough to satisfy. However, you may find yourself obsessed and wanting more. If so, try these simple ideas to up the black-and-white quotient in your home.

1. Sleek Elegance

Use black and white in the kitchen or bathroom to create classic elegance. Nothing looks more sophisticated than white subway tile paired with black honed granite or oiled, soapstone countertops. Break up an expanse of white shower tiles with a band of black mosaic glass tiles to add some sparkle. In the kitchen, Carrara marble floors provide a chic counterpoint to ebony kitchen cabinets.

Make it easy on yourself with a paint or wallpaper project in the powder room. This will give you an opportunity to decide if black and white is right for you. A small space translates into a smaller investment of time and money for the job. If you really love the look you can move on to a larger room.

Add instant drama in a powder room with black walls and a white waterfall vanity.

Add instant drama in a powder room with black walls and a white waterfall vanity.

2. Graphic Walls

Transform your walls into artful canvases with the addition of black-and-white wall coverings or paint techniques. Start with an accent wall or a small room and decide if you like the look. Check out wallpaper samples at paint stores and design centers. Once you’ve decided on a particular manufacturer and pattern go home and buy it online.

You can achieve a similar effect with paint for a fraction of the cost of wall coverings. If you like the graphic nature of black-and-white chevrons or stripes, simply measure, tape off the wall and paint away. You can even replicate an elaborate wallpaper pattern by using large-scale stencils and paint.

Black and white creates a big contrast on the walls.

Black and white creates a big contrast on the walls.

3. Curtain Call

Not quite ready to cover the walls in black and white? Do a test run by hanging black-and-white curtains in your room to create similar impact. This is also a great solution for apartment dwellers who can't paint the walls. Choose a pattern that suits your design personality whether it's modern stripe, traditional damask or exotic paisley. Curtains are the perfect way to experiment with black and white on a larger scale.

These printed fabrics would make gorgeous curtains against stark white walls.

These printed fabrics would make gorgeous curtains against stark white walls.

4. Accessory Ideas

Don’t forget to include accessories in your black-and-white design scheme. Keep it simple by looking for decorative items in either black or white. That way you can use them in future design incarnations. If you feel the need to include accessories with a black-and-white pattern, include in a couple of black-and-white throw pillows, a single vase or decorative box to spice it up a bit.

As hard as it might be, try not to get too carried away. Temper your black-and-white accessories with an accent color to offset the graphic contrast. A third color like yellow, red, chartreuse, turquoise, purple or blue will not detract—it creates visual interest giving your eye a place to rest in a sea of black and white.

5. Bedroom Drama

The subtle introduction of black and white in the boudoir will give your ordinary room the ambiance of a chic boutique hotel. Picture your bed with crisp white sheets and pillowcases. How about adding black euro shams with white trim and a white throw pillow with a black monogram?

Top off your bed with a comforter and coverlet to create layers of black and white. Dress your windows with black and white curtains to finish the look. A theatrical black chandelier will look stunning set against the shimmering white ceiling.

Add a bright pop of color to add visual interest in a black-and-white room.

Add a bright pop of color to add visual interest in a black-and-white room.

6. Exterior Design

Take black and white style outside. Nothing reads traditional more than a white house with a black front door, shutters or awnings. Create the same feel for your patio.

Replace the dingy upholstery on your outdoor furniture with black and white striped cushions and pillows. Hang black-and-white curtains from your patio cover or pergola. Just like the interior, break things up by adding a splash of contrasting color in the form of a red front door or vibrant flower beds.

Black-and-white curtains add pizzazz  to your patio and pool area.

Black-and-white curtains add pizzazz to your patio and pool area.

7. Creative Shopping

By now you’re wondering, “How can I budget for all of these great black-and-white design ideas?" Take advantage of online sales and shop the big retail discounters. And remember, no one says you have to do everything in one weekend.

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Decorate as time and money allows. The true joy of design is in the inspiration and creation. If you consider your house as an on-going project you’ll appreciate the results that much more.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on January 28, 2015:

poetryman6969, I know what you mean, the combination of black and white can seem very impersonal. You can minimize its stark nature by incorporating small doses of other colors and lots of texture to make it more approachable.

poetryman6969 on January 28, 2015:

It's a very cool and stylish look. As for myself, it would be a little stark. I just like to look.

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on December 19, 2010:

A touch of black and it can do so much. Such an of elegance and sophistication. I always have at least one black piece in the room.

Thanks for such a stylish hub! Rated up!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 17, 2010:

Om, thanks for the rating! Yeah, B&W is not for everyone and certainly an entire house would be overkill. Used sparingly it makes a huge impact. Glad you enjoyed the hub!

Om Paramapoonya on November 17, 2010:

Awesome. I like all the pictures. Although I love bright colors, I think black-and-white decoration is very classy. Rated this beautiful. :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 07, 2010:

Hub_01, thanks for the comment! Glad you are following my hubs. Stay tuned for more interior design and fashion ideas!

Hub_01 on November 07, 2010:

nice hub, i like it, thanks for your sharing.

good designer of black and white.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 03, 2010:

Been there, done that (too many times to admit!) It's funny, you start out with a relatively simple plan that always ends up being much more involved (expensive) than you anticipate. I have to say that painting is my favorite decorating trick--it instantly changes the look of a room.

Ooooh! I think that would be a great room to wake up to every morning! The sheets are an important first step, now you can gradually find the other bedding and room components.

Let me know if you have any questions along the way. I'd love to help!

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on November 03, 2010:

This information on black and white style is great lindacee, having just painted (which turned into a mini reno!) our house I'm going to use some of these tips. Oh to have a bedroom like the pic, well I have crisp white sheets, I guess that's a start.

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