Ebony and ivory
Strike a harmonious chord with a classic but bold look that’s always in style, writes
Legendary French fashion designer Coco Chanel once declared black and white were “the perfect harmony”. While she was referring to fashion, she could also have been talking about interiors.
According to interior designer Gillianne Griffiths, from Studio Griffiths, monochromatic colour schemes transcend interiors trends.
“They are restful and calming but, most importantly, are timeless, elegant and extremely practical,” she says. “They are also one of the simplest interior schemes to pull together — as long as you follow a few simple design rules.”
Easy does it
The major advantage of restricting your colour palette is it reduces the chances of going wrong. It also allows you to experiment with pieces more freely.
“A monochromatic scheme is very practical because it allows you considerable freedom to experiment with mixing pieces from different eras and styles in a way you wouldn’t be able to do if you were working with lots of colour,” Gillianne says.
It is also great for those on a budget as inexpensive pieces always look a little more sophisticated in black and white.
“If you are omitting colour, even the simplest pieces will look more expensive and can sit quite harmoniously against more expensive items,” Gillianne says.
Shades of grey
A simple mistake to make with a monochrome palette — strange as it might sound — is to limit the colours to just black and white.
“That’s very severe and quite hard to look at,” Gillianne says.
The trick is to go with “tonal variations” in your interiors scheme.
“This will give you the depth and the warmth in an otherwise dull space,” she says.
So, if you’re using black as your starting point, you should also include a variety of associated tones, such as charcoals and different shades of grey.
“Using the lighter and darker variations of one colour creates harmony and a peaceful, relaxing feeling in the space,” she says.
“Whites naturally soften darker palettes, so it’s all about mixing in as much contrasting colour as you can.”
Seeing a pattern
If you want to make a monochromatic palette work, add pattern and a mix of textures and textiles to give the space depth.
Unlike decorating with multiple colours, using black, white and greys gives you more flexibility to mix different patterns, such as geometrids, spots and stripes.
“They will all work beautifully together in a limited palette, so it gives you a lot of freedom to layer and combine different shapes in a way you wouldn’t be able to do with colour because
We can partly thank the Scandinavians for the current popularity in black and white interiors, says Gillianne.
“The interest in all things Scandinavian has definitely had an influence,” she says. “People are definitely gravitating towards a much simpler, uncluttered lifestyle, and this colour palette gives you that.”
While Scandi interiors traditionally feature lots of blond timbers in a monochrome scheme, Gillianne says any type of timber will work.
“Scandi-inspired interiors can be quite a young look, but adding something like a slightly darker raw oak to your scheme will give you a more sophisticated yet understated luxe feel, as well as a touch of lightness and playfulness,” she says.
The white stuff
While she will sometimes paint the walls of smaller spaces, such as libraries, studies or powder rooms, in dark, moody greys, Gillianne