Decorating with black and white – for an elegant Parisian feel

Black and white can completely alter the feel of a room but getting the balance right is key

Decorating with black and white
(Image credit: Neptune)

A black and white decorating scheme is a brave choice, as it requires careful editing and a strong design eye. This type of interior can also appear ‘flat’ if you don’t introduce texture and subtle tonal variety. But put together carefully, it’s a great way to add drama and style.

While monochrome decorating can be tricky to get right, a considered approach will be rewarded by a simple but impactful scheme. Monochrome interiors can work especially well in period homes, where a one-tone canvas serves to highlight and complement original features. 

But tone and texture are important – remember that the most successful monochrome interiors combine movement and depth with tactile pieces to create an interesting narrative.

See: White kitchen ideas – for a stylish scheme that will stand the test of time

1. Embrace the dark side

Decorating with black and white

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair)

A contemporary combination of walls and black paintwork, mixed with traditional fixtures and fittings means this all-monochrome scheme has a clean, up-to-date feel that will continue to look stylish for years to come. Painting elements of your bathroom black is a brilliant way to create a cocooning space that is sharp yet cozy.

See: Bathroom ideas – stylish decor ideas for all bathrooms

2. Create an accent

Decorating with black and white

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair)

A living room looks elegant and smart decorated in black and white, but if you are sticking religiously to the monochrome color scheme, it's really important to ensure that you add plenty of texture into the room to ensure it feels warm and welcoming. Here, the deep pile rug and the patterns on the chairs and cushions adds a much-needed element of coziness.

See: Living room ideas – clever ways to decorate living spaces

3. Pick black for a kitchen – but add warmth with wood

Decorating with black and white

(Image credit: Neptune)

Black kitchen cabinetry can look incredibly smart against crisp white walls, but to make the room truly successful, it's important to ensure the flooring is pale-colored to reflect light, and to add wood to the scheme, whether in worktops, extra cabinetry or simply accessories.

See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens 

4. Pick black and white for a relaxed bedroom

Decorating with black and white

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Decorating with black and white is a statement in its own right. White shouldn’t be seen as a default color, only used if you’re too nervous to make more of a statement with color. Monochrome in the bedroom is surprisingly serene as well as stylish. 

Try adding gorgeously soft furnishings like textured throws and contemporary cushions for a totally trendy look that will stand the test of time. You can always bring in touches of color with accessories and linen as and when you feel like it.

See: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration for beautiful bedrooms

5. Combine black and white with blonde wood

Decorating with black and white

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Black and white is a perfect canvas to experiment with different textures, especially in a more formal setting like a dining room. Blonde wood is a brilliant way to stop a black-and-white scheme from looking too clinical – and in fact, can create that serene Scandinavian finish that is so enduringly popular.

6. Contrast crisp white with accents of black

Decorating with black and white

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Choosing a white kitchen could be the best decision you’ll ever make, kitchen-wise. White cabinetry is always a best-seller, and although white is sometimes considered to be the safe option where wall color (or lack of it!) is concerned, white cabinetry is a stylish and fashion-forward option.

The usual design rules apply though, particularly where white is concerned. It’s generally acknowledged that a totally white color scheme can look clinical, reminding us of an operating theatre rather than a warm, welcoming room that is the ‘heart of the home’. 

Incorporate contrasting finishes, such as natural stone or hardwood flooring – which also have textural qualities to make glossy or matt white cabinetry all the more striking when sitting alongside.

Decorating with Black and white

(Image credit: Vivian Johnson)

Link two separate spaces together using black and white – putting it on architectural elements, such as doorways and paintwork in one area, and on furniture in others creates a subtle visual link between the two that's understated and elegant.

How do you decorate with black and white

Decorating with black and white gives you the blank canvas you need to add in either splashes of bright color, warmth with natural materials, such as wood, or texture in rugs, throws and other textiles. 

Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.