The use of white and black in decorating can create a stunning and dramatic decor. Find out how to best take advantage of the combination of these two simple colors to maximize your decorating statement.
There”s a rule in decorating that says that “every room can use a touch of black.” You might think this is strange if you have a room of pastels or jewel tones. But think a minute.
Using the color black adds a focal point of color that grounds, anchors, and adds a sophisticated look to a room.
Black in accessories, light fixtures, trims, paint, or in one bold piece of furniture will help to catch the eye and sharpen any decorating scheme. It will serve as an outline that sets off specific areas or objects. Black by itself is striking!
But to get real drama and spark, pair black with white.
The use of black and white in decorating gives a fresh, clean, and unquestionably sophisticated and elegant look to any room.
Black and white are a perfect color combination for any decorating style.
Everybody is familiar with the dramatic change that can come about from simply changing the colour on your walls. But how many people have actually considered changing the shape of the space itself? Sometimes we’re presented with problematic spaces that demand solutions. A very narrow room with a high ceiling looks out of proportion – maybe installing a false ceiling with recessed downlighters is the answer. A bathroom next to a WC practically instructs you to remove the dividing wall. Try applying this principle to an ordinary space as well, one which doesn’t have particular problems of size or proportion, but which might benefit from a re-think of the space and how it is to be used.
The past shows us examples of space dividing which may or may not be desirable solutions for the way we live today. The 1960s and 1970s gave us plastic and metal shelving units, open on both sides and jutting out across our living rooms. The style has moved on but the principle is still useable, except today we would use fabric panels, glass bricks, chrome retail shelving, or folding bamboo screens to achieve the same result.
Straightforward square spaces can be given added interest and the illusion of greater length by incorporating a pair of screens that mirror each other across the room. These needn’t be large, they needn’t jut out into the room too far. Their mere presence is enough to create a space-changing illusion. If the room is high enough, you might consider building a platform over one end – for sleeping, reading, watching television. This is an especially effective way of increasing living space in a small studio or one-bedroom flat.
False ceilings needn’t be permanent. Swathes of fabric can create snug areas in an otherwise large and clinical room. Or, you might consider altering your space by changing the floor level. The character of a large dining/living room can be made intimate and distinct by raising the level of the dining room. This also offers the opportunity of using the newly created underfloor space for storage – even as a wine cellar. One clever architect recently tucked a full-sized bathtub under the bedroom floor in a tiny flat!
All of these changes (except for the bathtub under the floor) have been made without changing your structural walls and are usually limited to one room. Redesigning an entire floor (or whole house) is an altogether larger project. Cramped and muddled rooms on a single floor can often be rearranged to create the feeling of more space.
The basic principles of this can be seen in good garden design. A diagonal line of vision across a square space makes the space feel bigger. If re-siting a door or incorporating an archway achieves a diagonal line of sight through two or more rooms, the effect will be the same. Gardens also use vistas, looking through and beyond the space you inhabit to an object or space beyond. Creating an enfilade – a progression of rooms linked together by a succession of doorways or archways in perfect alignment – was one of the ways the architects of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries achieved this vista effect in their design of stately homes and palaces. You might consider borrowing this idea for your own home.
Don’t forget about mirrors and glass. The early 19th century architect Sir John Soane adored mirrors and the space-expanding effect they had on his interiors. His house in London was been preserved, complete with all its architectural quirks, mirrored ceilings and walls, and interior porthole windows. Large Victorian mirrors, bereft of the huge mantles and sideboards over which they used to hang, create an elegant illusion of doubled space simply by being propped up against an empty wall.
Sand-blasted glass panels, glass bricks, and etched glass are all being used in creative new ways to help increase light and a sense of space and airiness in today’s homes. Today’s glass designers can create everything from glass staircases to glass fireplaces. And this glass isn’t fragile! It’s tough, strong and beautiful.
If you have a garden next to your room, try to incorporate that space both visually and aesthetically. Install French or sliding doors to bring the garden into your home. Increase that effect by using the same floorcovering inside and outside – sandstone, terracotta tiles or slate would work well and look great. Even if you can’t install French doors to make the room flow into the garden, a simple expedient of sympathetically planted window boxes will help make the garden flow into the room, especially if the boxes are planted in colours which co-ordinate with your room’s decor.
Once you have decided the sum you wish to invest in home improvements, it often helps to check the feasibility of that budget by allocating portions of it to different areas of expense. For a simple living room refurbishment you might allocate the budget into seven areas; for instance, floorcovering, wallcovering, curtains, furniture, light fittings, accessories and designer’s fee.
A useful tip is to think in terms of percentages rather than cash. We all think money is still worth what it used to be worth in the “good old days”, and even millionaires complain about the price of butter. However, by allocating percentages to your project, you are better able to see what you can afford, and are willing, to spend on each area of the redecoration. If you want to have an elaborate curtain treatment, you may have to reduce your budget for the floorcovering, or vice versa. This method also helps you to prioritise your decoration requirements. By being honest with your interior designer about your design priorities and your budget, you are more likely to receive a design and service that will surprise and delight you.
Check that the designer you choose has a defined fee structure and make sure you get this in writing. Ensure that the designer knows your decoration budget and be clear about whether the design fees are included in this budget, or are paid on top. Give the designer the budget breakdown and as much specific information as possible about your expectations within that budget – if you’re expecting to get that antique reclaimed parquet floor above all else, then make this clear. If it your desired object isn’t within the scope of your defined budget, the designer can get back to you early on in the project to juggle the budget allocations.
The designer will welcome clear information on your budget because it is a real time saver for both of you. If the budget extends only to slipcovers for existing furniture, let the designer know this before they set off to pound the pavement in a search for brand new furniture. (Remember, you’re probably paying for their sourcing time!)
If poker really is your game there is nothing wrong with keeping a percentage of your budget in reserve without telling anyone (in fact, this is quite a good idea). If the budget runs over (and if the project requires building, plumbing or electrical work, this can happen when surprises like dry rot, rising damp or structural problems are uncovered you then have a cash reserve. But if the project has run smoothly, and the designer has completed it on budget, then why not use the extra money to visit the travel agent to celebrate!