Special Nonexistent Furniture

Black and white colour schemes

It's not all black and white, when it comes to black and white. Learn the proper colour terms, and find out how to work with this classic scheme.

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Monochromatic vs. achromatic
You may have heard the term 'monochromatic' being used to describe a black and white colour scheme, but that's actually incorrect. Contrary to what we often hear and read, a monochromatic palette is one that uses just one colour in different shades that vary in intensity, such as varying shades of blue. The word that you're looking for to describe a purely black and white room is 'achromatic'. An achromatic colour palette is one that has no colour, using only black, white and grey. (That's one for your next trivia night.)  

High contrast versus low contrast
'Contrast' is basically the gap between the brightest and darkest. High contrast indicates a large gap between the brightest and the darkest, while low contrast refers to a much smaller gap between the brightest and darkest. So, in the case of black and white, we're talking about a very high-contrast look. A black and white colour scheme causes our eyes to bounce around a space, creating an active, energetic feeling. Of course, even black and white schemes can vary in contrast with high-contrast schemes having a wider range of tones from bright highlights to dark shadows. 

How to work with black and white
While it may seem straightforward, a black and white colour scheme can vary greatly, depending on where, and how much of each colour is used within a space.

More white than black
If you like a light and airy feel to a room, you'll want to include more white than black, with white walls and white furniture, and just mere accents of black through picture frames, table legs and ornaments

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More black than white
If you prefer a moodier den-like space, consider black walls and black furniture with finer white details through wall art, cushions and ornaments

Grey in the mix
Grey works effortlessly in a black and white colour scheme, and can soften the look too. Consider different tones and also work with small-scale black and white patterns, such as checks and houndstooth.

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Turn black and white on its head
For a more dynamic look, flip the balance to what we ordinarily see in most homes. Instead of dark floors and light walls, consider light floors and dark walls.

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"Black and white rooms are timeless and more versatile than you might think. Keep it energised with a commitment to black and white, or soften your black and white palette by using a warm accent colour like that of rustic timber, jute rugs or mustard."

Modern black and white
For a more contemporary urban look, commit to the black and white scheme, and instead play with different tones of grey. Black and white wall art and photography is especially an easy way to achieve this. 

Classic black and white
If you like the elegance and tradition of a country-style home, warm up black and white with timber and other natural textures.

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