Recently, a friend lent me the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Japanese author Marie Kondo. This small little tome has caused a world-wide decluttering phenomenon and made its author a superstar. Kondo's main strategy to fight clutter is to take everything (and I mean everything) out of your closets, pick up each individual item and only keep those things that spark joy. The idea is to get rid of at least a third of your possessions in order to turn your home into a welcoming, peaceful environment that will stimulate you to be the best you can be – creative, harmonious, happy. On paper, it makes a lot of sense and I do feel inspired to start cleaning up my house asap. The problem is, as you may have read on these pages, that I am very much a maximalist, and lots of things (maybe all?) in my house spark joy for me.
Having said that, I do feel the need to hit the “reset button” so to speak when it comes to my home environment. This got me thinking that I needed a palate cleanser, a neutral flavor that will enable me to make the transition to a new – hopefully better organized and more functional - environment. I have found myself looking at many black and white photographs over the last few weeks, as well as interiors that are mainly black and white. And sure enough, a few nights ago I was invited to attend the book signing of Hilary Robertson's latest book “Monochrome Home – Elegant Interiors in Black and White”. It's a gorgeously illustrated volume. Black and white feels just right!
Images from the book “Monochrome Home – Elegant Interiors in Black and White” by Hilary Robertson, photography by Pia Ulin
The fun thing about restricting yourself to a simple black and white scheme is that you can introduce some really bold graphics in your interiors. Think graffiti-style patterns, bold brush strokes à la Willem De Kooning, and Jackson Pollock inspired drips.
Bold black and white stripes will give your room height, energy and chic – ideal for petite powder rooms and dark, boring hallways.
I am a huge fan of the classic black and white checkerboard tile floor, which really does not look out of place in any style of decorating.
A variety of patterns and styles can be mixed and matched together – ikats, photo prints, toile de jouy, chevrons, snakeskins, you name it - as long as you stick to the black and white palette.
If all that black and white starts to feel just a little too predictable, try introducing just one additional color, such as a bold egg yolk yellow.
Still nervous about making the jump to no-color color? Start with a black and white gallery wall of your favorite pics, posters and art, and build out the room from there.
Don't think all this black and white will be easy-peasy: by taking color out of the equation, you'll need to pay a lot more attention to scale, proportion, line and weight. It's an interesting decorating exercise, but one that can yield some really powerful and poetic environments. As photographer Andri Cauldwell stated so aptly:
"To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul".
Inspired but need a little help? Calico's Free Design Services may be just what you need!