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May 21, 2013

Trend Forecast: Seeing Black and White

by Decorview


This guest post was written by Emily Kiker Morrow, the Director of Color, Style and Design for Shaw Industries. You can find her design expertise featured on such sites as HGTV and Retrorenovation

Black and white is taking over interiors and the fashion world with bold stripes, dots, classic houndstooths, ikats and even in the returning “Chinoiserie” designs. It’s no surprise that we’re experiencing a renewed interest in this high contrast combination, since we’ve been living in a “gray, gray world”. Black and white are the origins of gray, color-wise, but they also are the most visually impactful. We are in the midst of an “Op-Art” explosion, where art is applied to what we wear and what we bring into our homes.

Chic Black and White Chevron striped rug with turquoise curtains

Source: Petit Chateau via Pinterest


What makes black and white work is that it transcends being pigeon-holed into any one specific design style. In other words, one can find B&W in traditional interiors on classic chair designs, in modern interiors as glossy lacquered chests, in Palm Beach-style interiors accented with preppy pinks and greens.

Today, consumers and designers alike are living with a wide range of styles. Getting the “mix” right is what separates the rookies from the seasoned professionals, taking the expected and making it unexpected. Strictly formal and traditional interiors tend to feel too rigid for most busy people and there’s this inner need to feather our nests with what’s comforting and colorful.

Caress Gray Natural Art

Looking at textiles for pillows, windows, bedding and upholstery, one can find a plethora of black and white globally-inspired patterns that are infused with classic or natural elements. An example of this blending of patterns is the classic zebra motif which has become “herringboned”, or a houndstooth whose check has become blurred into a near-ikat.  We see that interiors as a whole are lightening and brightening as we are experiencing a more optimistic attitude about our economy. With this lightening and brightening, the color combinations are critical. Striking the right balance between just right and just wrong depends on the number of bright colors and where they are placed.

Shaw Metropolitan Maple Kitchen

Seeing your floors or walls as the perfect canvasses on which we can design, is the right approach. Personally, I begin with the “foundation”, carpet or hardwood floors in order to build a design scheme that works best. If you plan to bring in vivid colors in your pillows and artwork, then keeping your floors subdued is key. This approach doesn’t require “beige” but can include, grays, pale aqua, or even pistachio green. Keeping your walls quiet gives you greater license to bring in more vibrant color to the floor, be it classic “bokhara red” or “emerald green”.

Attention to detail is the finishing touch on any interior. It’s the same process as adding a few key pieces of jewelry to a nearly stunning outfit. Exposed nail heads on upholstery, luxurious tassels and fringe on panel draperies, chiseled edges on hardwood flooring, or subtly contrasted patterns in a beautiful faux bois carpet design. Details make the difference.

If you want to see more black and white design inspirations, check out our Black and White Pinterest board.  Be sure to share the design inspirations you come across, too!

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