best of

Sneak Peek: Best of Black & White

by Maxwell Tielman

We all know that color is important. Practically every month, some fashion or shelter magazine extols the virtues of color on the body or in the home. “Enliven your wardrobe with color!” “Makeover your space with color!” “Drab to dazzling with color!” Certain colors, when used judiciously, can set the tone for a room, improve your mood or even, as some pseudo-scientists have claimed, cure certain ailments. While the world seems abuzz about color, I’d like to take a stance on the other side of the spectrum — why not celebrate the lack of color? The simple and age-old combination of black and white can be just as, if not more, powerful than any color.

Black and white, with its ability to emphasize the form and graphic qualities of objects, can be used in a myriad of ways — from creating bold, retina-shocking statements to calm sanctuaries away from the clutter of everyday life. Throughout time, numerous artists and designers like Coco Chanel, Dorothy Draper, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell (to name just a few) have realized the magnificent potential of the palette and harnessed it to create spectacular results. Design*Sponge is no stranger to black and white, either, and after perusing our archives, I have assembled some of the best examples of what black and white has to offer. — Max

Above image: Interior designer Susanna Vento’s beautiful Helsinki kitchen. Vento is able to use a wide range of furniture and accessories by tying the entire look together with a unifying black and white palette.

Above image: The hallway in Jeff Gnewikow and Jeff Madalena’s Catskills home features bright white walls complemented by a stunning floor, painted black with India ink.

Above image: Relatively common fixtures obtain bold graphic power against a coat of black paint in Emma Reddington’s Toronto home.

More black and white after the jump . . .

Above image: Crafter Lauren Bradshaw took a somewhat unorthodox approach to decorating her baby’s nursery. One wouldn’t commonly associate black paint with babies, but the results are both elegant and beautiful.

Above image: Susan and William Brinson create maximum drama with minimal ingredients by repeating black pieces against white walls. The end result is both bold and refreshingly spare.

Above image: When paired with a largely black and white space, strategically placed colors pop more than ever, as illustrated by the stunning red accents in Katie Quinn Davies’ bathroom.

Above image: At once modern and traditional, interior designer Robert Kristiansen’s summer home illustrates the timeless qualities of black and white.

Above image: Positioned against a white-wall backdrop, a black pendant light hangs like a punctuation mark in Annabelle Kerslake’s bedroom.

Above image: Interior designer Jessica Helgerson uses black and white to add a luxe touch to this traditional Portland home.

Above image: Dark walls and furniture combined with lighter accents add a sense of glamor to Bernadette Pascua and Andrew Stinson’s bedroom.

Above image: When used in a bedside vignette, as in Erin Hiemstra and Chris Wick’s San Francisco home, black and white elements truly show off their graphic qualities, almost like bold pieces of text on a printed page.


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