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Classic Combinations: Black and White

Designed by Alfredo Paredes (architecturaldigest.com)

As classic as an old Hollywood movie, designing in black and white remains a timeless go-to for both traditionalists and modernists. This monochromatic scheme is layered in history, offers a multitude of tonalities and feels both crisp and inviting at the same time. The most successful designs balance out the contrasts between these two hues by using a mix of materials and finishes for the most striking effect.

Consider these ideas when creating this type of space:
  • Contrasting high gloss cabinetry with a matte white countertop.
  • Pairing modern black stainless steel appliances with simple white cabinetry.
  • Using encaustic tiles to blend with natural stone surfaces.
  • Blending onyx and carrara marbles to create high drama.
  • Adding accessories like metal task or pendant lighting for an industrial look.
  • Combining classic white—or black—subway tile with a contrasting grout color.
  • Adding brass hardware to add warmth or nickel for a contemporary feel.
  • Painting the ceiling in a high gloss lacquer black or white paint.
  • Creating checkerboard floors by painting over hardwoods or laying black and white tile.
  • Installing oversized pendants in a powder coated finish over the island to play with scale.

In Celerie Kemble’s design book, Black and White (And a Bit in Between) she used ten words to describe this combination: elegant, versatile, practical, inclusive, classic, playful, creative, orderly, calming and liberating. She called the pairing unfussy, while simultaneously eliminating the “paradox of choice” that can so often overwhelm a homeowner when it comes to major design decisions. With such a limited palette, the design becomes about textures and materials that ultimately create this irreverent combination.

 

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