Recently, we received this question:
What color mood does black and white have? Is it a warm, cool or neutral color mood.
Since the planet is suddenly obsessed with painting their rooms art gallery white, and since black is the new grey, this question doesn’t surprise me. It’s probably a highly searched question online.
But here’s the problem.
It’s not the right question.
People are trained to ask themselves ‘What mood are you looking for?’ because when anyone starts talking about colour and re-decorating, that’s the first question a decorator or a paint store will ask.
What’s the mood that you want to create for this room?
That could be a great question for someone who has a blank slate.
But if you are like many of my clients who just want their existing living room to feel good, (which means they have existing furniture to work with) this is totally the wrong question
The second place people look for colour inspiration is current trends.
They look at all these blown out WHITE rooms on Pinterest and they decide white is the answer.
My bookkeeper just moved into a little house in the country and during our one of our regular meetings last week, she mentioned that she just painted the entire house some shade of art gallery white.
This is someone who does not follow my blog and is not overly interested in design. But the pulse of colour is currently about WHITE. And that’s how she ended up with bright white walls.
So back to the question about black and white.
A room decorated entirely in black and white can be warm or cool but that depends on the balance of black and white, the texture, lighting, and most of all styling.
This room (below) is so black that it could read cold. The floors warm it up for sure, but it’s a great example of when too much black makes a room feel masculine.
If you live in a house that it old and undecorated, this room might still hold some appeal for you (which is why you might be shaking your head right now instead of nodding). And, there’s nothing wrong with that, but just stay with me.
This room (below) is even more black on grey on black. What is the mood here? Debilitating is what I would call it, which is what too much grey and black will create.
Take away the high end, well-lit display cabinets at the end of this room and the lacquered furniture and we’d really not want to spend any time in this room. Except if it was dark and we were watching TV.
Okay so you probably get the picture right about now right? Are we depressed? I know I am.
What makes the following rooms work?
Here this room has been styled well with hits of brass everywhere, lacquered floors and furniture to provide some shine, black and white books in the black bookshelves to add texture along with a glittery chandelier.
This room is almost as black as the media room in the above photo but the gold adds warmth and glamour to the heavy black colours in this space. And the white walls provide some much needed contrast here.
Love that the black (below) wasn’t repeated in the faucets and the mirrors. This bathroom, although obviously trendy, has just the right balance of black and white with the black repeated strictly in the light fixtures. That’s enough.
Not too heavy, and glamorous enough to be the bathroom that looks like it belongs with the living room we just saw before this photo (above).
This art gallery white room (below) has lovely architecture detail with black and white artwork and a primarily white area rug to balance the black leather sofa.
Be mindful of how you decorate with black. It can look chic, elegant, strong and dramatic, but it can also quickly look boring, masculine, harsh, flat, and predictable.
The way to introduce a trend this strong is with paint. How many of us would love a bathroom entirely tiled in black?
As I said in my 2018 trends report, if you want to incorporate black into your kitchen, do so only if you can incorporate a wall or two without uppers.
Otherwise your kitchen might be as bleak and dark as so many espresso brown kitchens were (and still are) in the 2000s during the Tuscan brown trend.
Remember, boring equals timeless. This statement is still just as true five years after I wrote that post.
Who is incorporating black into their reno’s or new builds this year? Who is going to follow my advice? Raise your hand, haha!