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.


Suggested For You


  • Love the black and white with the brown wood benches. Instead of modern minimalist, it makes it look cottagey clean

  • Wonderful! I just redecorated my home office with a black & white theme, and I love it. I agree that B&W together is equal parts modern and timeless. Thank you for the lovely photos!

  • I could SO live in this black & white world!! Love it! The bits of color just pop and it looks so lush and sophisticated! Thanks for sharing.

  • I love the bathroom walls. I’m all for trim matching paint too. It highlights the architectural details.

  • The rooms you present in Black and White not only underscore the grace of a quiet palette but also its versatility! Thank you for putting together such a beautiful composition – it shows that some seasons, the “in” color is nothing at all.

  • Fantastic photos of B&W spaces. Recently read an article about a baby’s vision – he/she sees in black and white when a newborn so this may be a great idea for a nursery. As the baby grows, adding bright colors could be a great learning and design tool. Those baby pastels may not be a good idea, though they look lovely. Thanks for the images of B&W.

  • Inspired by simplicity and smoothness . Light plays well on the contours
    within these presentations. Want immediately to strip down my interiors

  • I’ve always appreciated black/white…black/white photo/black/white clothing black/white books…you get the idea. Your photos read order, purity and harmony. Thank you for such a treat to the senses

  • This is stunning. I’m always drawn to colour but the monochromes work so well here. Very liveable. Love the bathroom and the fireplace is exquisite.

  • I thought Susanna Vento’s kitchen floor was tiles. It’s actually a rug/s. I love the black-navy-white pattern and I’m going to find a way to replicate it in tiles. Such an inspiring home. Thank you x 100 for sharing this.

  • I love how the black and white theme is broken up with pops of brown, tan even red. It totally works…and black and white is family-friendly too if done with cleverness. Personally I’d throw in a cream-colored aran yarn knit pillow in there just for texture. Or even a knitted pouf in black.

  • I am very interested in one of the posters in the first picture – the one with the eyes. Does anyone know who the artist is?

  • Love black & white did most of our house in it except left varnished floors & coloured walls in one room.Mixed it with red comforter & red curtains in 1 bdrm.

  • I found this post incredibly timely — after embracing vibrant colors in all sorts of combinations this summer, I have found myself attracted to the classic, timeless, graphic combination of black and white. The images are beautiful and very inspiring!