Mastering Creative Contrast

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Time-tested tricks for designing with black and white. The absence of color may be just the design answer you've been seeking.


Posted 9/2/22


Planning a room remodel and feeling down-right frustrated by selecting the perfect colors? You’re not alone. Landing on a palette can seem like an insurmountable feat for many. Don’t be dismayed; developing drama through the absence of color may be just the design answer you’ve been seeking.  

Whether it’s going full-blown monochrome or simply embracing the elegance of creative contrast, be assured that juxtaposing deep darks and bright lights will never go out of style. As color schemes go, committing to black and white at least reduces one important decision in the process. And when done right, it’s anything but boring.

Temper textures 

As timeless as a tuxedo, black and white loves to soak up the spotlight from the high impact of opposing hues.  It’s just as versatile as well, able to be molded to work within about any design aesthetic. Be aware, however, if you use too many sleek materials or too much high sheen, your space will begin to skew modern. If that’s the look you’re going for, continue confidently in the direction of your design dreams! If not, look to infuse more varied sheens and textures like warm woods, shag carpeting, or antiqued metals to regain balance back to center.  


Light wood floors, charcoal wall molding, wooden farmhouse table with bench, ledge wall gallery framed pictures, industrial pendants

Photo credit: Dear Designer UK

Black and white pattern wallpaper, bohemian chandelier, black metal poster bed, white shag carpet, white bedspreadPhoto credit: Better Homes & Gardens

Get graphic

From diamonds to checks, pinstripes, or plaids, there is no shortage of ways to bring black and white to life through lively patterns.  And like a comic strip, this high contrast pairing just loves to gravitate toward graphic prints to pop off the page, wall, or floor. If you’d like to bring high energy to a space, black and white packs the punch to achieve an artful moment of movement. Boom! 


Black and white graphic pattern wallpaper, black railing, black wood stairs, gallery wall, light stain hardwood flooring, black bench entry

Photo credit: Little Gold Pixel

Black and white modern tile backsplash kitchen, black dome pendants, wood cabinetry, white granite countertop, black gold woven barstoolsPhoto credit: Stohmaier Construction

Play with proportion

Much like the 3D effect of adding shadows to a painting, the use of black and white as a color scheme can have a noticeable impact on an interior space’s sense of dimension.   

Consider two primary rules. Maximum light will spread on white surfaces creating a sense of spaciousness while dark surfaces pull the eye inward creating the perception of coziness. This means that should you choose to contrast dark walls against light floors, the room will seem intimate, whereas dark flooring with white walls will appear more expansive. So go ahead, shape those shadows!


Wood plank ceiling, dark walls, Scandinavian Danish style dining table and chairs, white wood floors, animal rug

Photo credit: Inside Out

Black hardwood floors, white walls, modern black light fixture, hallway red vintage runner, black staircase, black metal side table entry

   Photo credit: Interiors Online

Run with it

Although there are myriad ways to decorate and design with black and white, one dramatic move sits high above the rest. No, literally! It’s the stunner stair runner. When the combination of height, shape, and bold contrast come together, few moments within a home can compare. Don’t be afraid to go bold - it's a low risk, high reward place to incorporate prints and go from simple staircase to wow-worthy showcase!  

 

Dark gray white plaid check stair runner, white dog, black metal railing, light wood flooring

Photo credit: Brar Design House

Dark gray and white pattern Stanton stair runner, wood stairs, white trim, hallway Photo credit: Stanton Carpet

Fewer spaces can achieve the timeless appeal of those creatively embracing the elegant simplicity of a black and white palette. In fact, taking color out of the equation may free up just the creativity you’re seeking to play with textures, prints, and proportions like a true monochrome master.        

Inspired to to stir up some drama with creative contrast?  Stop by one of our showrooms or schedule an In-Home Shopping appointment today to discuss your options with one of our Flooring Experts.