"Black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony." — Coco Chanel
Fashionistas across the globe live and breathe black and white. Although annual trends emerge without fail, these oh-so-chic shades reign.
There is something theatrical about a room decorated in a high contrast palette — like a strand of pearls against a little black dress. Whether you've opted for creamy Chantilly lace walls and dark wood baseboards or a fun splash of black and white marble flooring, it's all very Tim Burton — and I'm hooked.
Find the latest additions to my inspiration board below:
Shopping for wallpaper can be stressful, especially if you shy away from pattern. But this sweet print from Anthropologie is safe for a small space and would add plenty of black and white contrast.
HGTV star Thomas Smythe's old kitchen is perfect. We actually featured it back in October 2004. I love how the upper cabinets are light and the lowers are dark. A table made from salvaged wood softens the look, giving it a really cosy feel.
I love walking into a home and being startled — in a good way. Black and white throughout amps up the wow factor in this fashionable pad.
Subtle black accents add drama in a sitting room with crisp white sofas.
This stunning bathroom with black and white mosaic tiles reminds me of the bathroom my sister and I shared growing up. The contrast between the dark beadboard and clawfoot tub is perfect against the buttery walls.
Check out Seema Persaud's roundup of black and white spaces.
1. Tallow (#203), Farrow & Ball
2. Kalahari Vignettes Wallpaper, Anthropologie
3. House & Home October 2004 issue, photography by Michael Graydon, via TheLennoxx.com
4. Camille Styles
6. Better Homes & Gardens
As the Interior Design Show came to a close on Sunday, Karim Rashid's quote, on the purpose of design, stuck with me: "Design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorially and emotionally." A well-designed space has the power to shift our mood and transform our experiences.
Hotels and retailers have been cashing in on this for decades with slick concept spaces, but what about the common spaces we visit everyday? More designers are focusing on elevating the mundane activities of daily life by creating innovative spaces in unlikely places.
If only all bakeries and metro stations were this much fun:
Princi Bakery, Milan, Italy.
To me this space evokes a cross between Ancient Egyptian and Mayan architecture. I love the use of rough, natural materials and the monochromatic palette. Claudio Silvestrin Architects used sand coloured porphyry stone — smooth slabs on the floor and rough, textured slabs for the wall — to match the colour of the bread flour the bakery uses. A waterfall and seven recessed candles soften the monumental wall. Ceiling spotlights illuminate only the bread and a wall of clear glass is all that separates the customers from the bakers.
Mistral Wine & Champagne Bar, São Paulo, Brazil.
I'd be tempted to take my time picking out a bottle of red if the local beer and wine store looked anything like this. I love the use of wood and mirrors on the walls, and the bright backlighting. Architect Arthur Casas designed the bottle display system to show each bottle label-up, eliminating the need to handle the bottles. This long selection hall leads to a bar area for tasting and learning about different varieties.
Audi City, London, U.K.
Shopping for an Audi would be exciting enough in itself for me, but doing it in this new digital car showroom would make it extra special. Audi City has taken the more traditional car sales environment and transformed it into an imaginative, high-tech experience. All models are available in digital form on expansive wall screens, ready to be customized by shoppers through tabletop touch screens.
Toledo Metro Station, Naples, Italy.
The latest in the Metronapoli Art Station project — past designers include Anish Kapoor, Karim Rashid and Sol LeWitt — was undertaken by Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. I feel like ascending those escalators would be like barreling headlong through an undiscovered planetary system à la Star Trek or Contact — it's probably not quite that exciting, but the mosaic walls would still make the morning commute more interesting.
Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany.
I haven't made it to Germany yet, but when I do this will definitely be on my must-see list. The five-storey open chamber is fit for a modern art museum — and qualifies as a work of art in itself. The all-white space features no direct lighting, allowing the books and visitors to bring the space to life.
Have you visited any extraordinary public spaces lately that have stopped you in your tracks? Comment below!
It's time to take pink out of the nursery. Don't fret: there are easy rules to follow to avoid the frilly, overly-feminine look. First and foremost, forget Pepto-Bismol and embrace these warm pink hues that don't scream Disney princess.
If you're a pink virgin, start small with blush-hued drapes. The crinkled nature of those pictured above offer a more casual aesthetic (read: not prom-like).
If you're ready to throw some pink paint onto your walls, try colour-blocking with a muted shade. I suggest a pink that almost reads as beige or grey — that way it will feel more like a neutral.
You're ready to commit to a pink upholstered piece? Hats off to you! Keep it from looking too sweet by pairing it with not-so-feminine decor elements, such as the raw wood-plank wall and linen pillows pictured in this modern Scandinavian beach house.
This gem is Bodie & Fou co-founder Karine Kong's home in London. Her daughter Mila picked the colour after judging their home's interior as being "too white". I dream of a house where the front door could be painted cotton-candy pink! You really can't go wrong with such a neutral façade. Beautiful.
For more inspiration, check out our Decorating With Pink photo gallery.
Kids aren't the only ones who go through awkward stages, their rooms do, too. A nautical scheme that was perfect for a boy at 10 can seem babyish to a teen, and piles of dirty hoodies do not a decor scheme make. These teenage boys' rooms capture a playful use of bold colour and convey evolving personal interests, without being too grown up.
Hits of orange, a dramatic accent wall and barnboard warm up this Ottawa attic bedroom.
Vintage lockers provide indestructible storage for teens, and add a nice patina.
Sculptural wall art makes a big, gutsy statement, and who wouldn't appreciate the subversive humour of the license plate in the shark's jaws?
This Scandinavian boy's room is punched up by an industrial pendant and fierce bedding.
Athletic memorabilia can make a bedroom look like a sports bar, but this graphic ticket-stub wall treatment is a simple way to convey passion for the (obviously memorable) game.
For all the stuff that boys love to just drop on the ground, a multitude of hooks on an easy installation decal encourages neatness, and geographic knowledge of the West Indies.
Read more on Furniture & Accessories For Teens.
As you can see from these before photos, the open-concept dining/living room was in need of some cosmetic changes. The walls were a too-bright green, the bulkhead a too-dark brown, and the dated sofas were too large for the narrow space at the front of the house. We wanted to create flow from the far back (kitchen) to the very front (living room) through common colours and patterns. We didn't move any walls or rip anything out, but last summer and fall, we went about making small changes like paint and furniture to refresh the space we use most often.
Here are our progress photos. It's been quite a journey!
From the kitchen looking towards the front of the house:
First came the white paint. We went with Benjamin Moore's Cloud White (OC-130) — just like the kitchen walls and cupboards — for fresh yet warm walls that would let the wallpaper and gallery wall stand out.
We traded the sparkly orbit chandelier for this silver antiqued metal drum pendant from Restoration Hardware. I love the contrast between the soft trees on the wallpaper and the industrial feel of the pendant. It's quite large for the space, but since it's all one room, I wanted something that would command attention.
And I should mention that we didn't toss anything — we sold everything from the chandelier, artwork, TV and sofas on Craigslist and Kijiji. Economical!
Like the inspiration shot in my previous post, I love the look of mix-and-match coloured moulded plastic chairs, so we ordered four from Ottawa's The Modern Shop in shades of blues and greens. Along with the wallpaper, they add some colour to the mostly grey and white space. One day, we would like to replace the dining table with a longer, more rustic version, at which point we can add more chairs.
Instead of replacing this '90s-like metal-shaded table lamp with a pricey new one, I replaced the shade with a creamy linen one from HomeSense. I really like the geometric base of the lamp, so I didn't want to toss it. I did the same with a matching floor lamp in the living room, and they look like new!
We wallpapered this recess and the one in the living area in Cole & Son's Woods wallpaper in lilac (69/12151), available through Kravet. We were going to go with a plain grey and white version of this pattern, but I'm glad we opted for some colour. The two wallpapered walls really add warmth to the main floor. And having the same pattern on a dining room wall and living room wall creates cohesion between the two connected areas.
On the opposite wall are the staircases — left goes down to the front door, right goes down to the grade-level laundry room and office, and you can also see the staircase to the second floor. Beige, beige, beige.
I was inspired by the photo wall in former H&H-er Emily Walker's home. We wanted to create a casual arrangement of black and white photos like hers on our boring entryway wall — it's a great spot to pause and take them in!
I brought a memory stick of digital photos of all our loved ones to Staples and they printed them on good-quality paper for me. I cut them out, then used one stainless steel thumbtack to pin each photo directly into the drywall. There will be lots of little holes, but drywall filler will easily cover them up if we move one day. Everyone who visits lingers here on their way in and out to pour over the memories — they love finding themselves in the collage! And we can easily add to it over time, too.
I created this gallery wall of my own Leslieville photography for my husband as a Christmas gift a couple of years back, but it was a little sparse and we wanted to add a few more to fill it out.
Did you know you can browse your city's archives for old photos that were taken in your neighbourhood? The City of Toronto Archives has an extensive database full of old transit photos, construction photos, demolitions and new buildings going up. You just type in the street names in your area and you'll find lots of fascinating snapshots. You can save small JPGs for free, or you can order larger JPGs for printing purposes. We ordered five new photos of the Leslieville area to fill out our gallery wall. Some of them are even the same photos I happened to take of the area, so we paired them side-by-side on the wall to show the old and new. Some of them date back to the 1920s! Our gallery wall is finally complete.
You can see that the TV and sofa were cramped into a narrow space. We want to replace the bulky TV with a wall-mounted one on a pivot bracket one day, but in the meantime, we're enjoying the quiet of not having a TV on the main floor. Is that crazy?
The TV will eventually go on the wallpapered wall to the right.
It took us longer than expected to find the perfect sectional. It was tricky to find the right dimensions, since the speaker needed to stay to the left and the sofa needed to fill the corner properly. Several sectionals we loved didn't come far enough along this half-wall, so they would seem a bit lost in the space. Many sectionals also have a chaise instead of a full back, but we really wanted to maximize seating for guests with two proper backs.
But we found it! We could keep the speaker where it was, and it was just long enough to cover an unsightly outlet to the right. We came across this beauty in Stacaro on King Street East — made by Montreal-based Lucyau — and it definitely checked off all our must-haves. Called the Cloud, no chaise meant it could accommodate lots of lounging guests. The down-filled cushions are clean-lined and contemporary in shape, and we love the two long seat cushions and barely-there legs.
I found the down throw pillows at HomeSense for a song, and their linen-like covers (removable!) are the same texture as the sofa's upholstery. The braided twine piping adds a raw contrast to the soft fabrics, too.
We kept the same curtain rod and Umbra drapes to save money.
The white walls really do make the space seem larger. Eventually, we want to replace the carpet on the stairs and paint the spindles white, but alas, that will have to wait. Charlie the cat seems pleased with the makeover, especially because of all the grey.
What do you think? I would love to read all your feedback. Comment below!
In the dead of winter, it's fun to get a shot of juicy vitamin C in the form of Hermès orange. The flip side of Tiffany's icy blue turquoise box, this shade adds warmth to everything it touches, particularly if it's accompanied by an iconic silk scarf.
For the very bold, this designer hue makes a statement, starting at square one.
This wall colour is a faithful reproduction of the Hermès hue, right down to the brown grosgrain ribbon on the edges.
Why not have some fun with built-ins? This millwork by Michael Fullen Design Group looks like a giant present that could contain something far more exciting than a widescreen TV.
Orange shades are just the antidote to keep graphic black and white playful in a kids' bedroom. Designed by Diane Bergeron, the bunk beds resemble the cabin of a luxury liner.
Or just use a judicious hit for a surprise of colour that elevates drawer fronts.
An irreverent homage to Hermès from stylish power couple Simon Doonan (of Barney's windows fame) and housewares designer Jonathan Adler. The gold fixtures are exquisite, but anyone can copy the shower curtain. This bath appears in Decorate (2011 Chronicle Books) by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick.
The original article, in all its glory.
See our Orange Rooms photo gallery for more inspiration.
1. The Velvet Fantastic blog
2. Martha Stewart
3. Michael Fullen Design Group
4. Houzz.com, design by Diane Bergeron
5. Bungalow 9
6. Houzz.com, from Decorate (2011 Chronicle Books) by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick
My new year's design resolution is to be more wacky.
Why wacky? Partly because it's a hilarious word — go on, say it out loud, it will make you snicker (another hilarious word) — and partly because it makes me think of eccentrics like Anna Piaggi, Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness, women who gamely embraced their own deeply personal style and emerged true individuals. How inspiring! How memorable.
In the world of interiors, the fearlessness of David Hicks, Miles Redd and Toronto writer Victoria Webster come to mind. But don't get the wrong impression: wacky doesn't require clashing colours and floor-to-ceiling boldness. It doesn't mean wild. Rather, think amusing. Think moments. Think different. It's a habit that has worked wonders for a certain computer company. Imagine what it can do for your living room.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Play with scale. A gauzy oversized light doesn't overwhelm this dining room, but still delivers a fun, Alice-in-Wonderland shift in perspective. Pairing it with a dramatic wallpaper takes the effect up a notch.
Amp up neutrals. These colours are popular because they're timeless, soothing and livable. But they don't have to be boring. Pattern helps add interest. Try layering a few prints where you need some pizzazz.
Do the unexpected. A simple floor lamp would have illuminated this seating area just as well, but a ceiling light that looks like it came from the toolbox of Inspector Gadget leaves a lasting impression.
For more whimsical design, see Bev Hisey's Textile Designs.
There was a time when adding colour and pattern to a backsplash meant traditional Delft-blue or Mediterranean-style ceramic tiles that didn't exactly suit contemporary spaces. While white subway tiles aren't going away anytime soon, colourful, graphic tiles are increasingly being used to make a strong visual statement. It's like hanging a piece of art behind your faucet — except it can withstand splatters.
The backsplash in this California home by Jute Interiors resembles Missoni's iconic zigzags.
A modern floral mosaic sets off the French stove and lets the gold wall-mount pot filler shine.
For the very neat, mirror tiles are the ultimate in sexy sophistication. Extending the tiles to the uppers or ceiling lends an ultra-luxe look.
A feminine design suits vintage-style Jadeite green cabinets, warm metal pulls and marble counters.
Unexpected in the kitchen, milky glass tiles add subtle pattern behind a cooktop.
See our Dramatic Tiled Interiors photo gallery for more inspiration.
Scenic wallpapers were once only the domain of the well-to-do. Today they offer a dramatic dose of tradition and elegance for anyone.
This glam silver bed begs the question, do you need a grand room with stately panelling and furnishings to make scenic papers work, or does it in fact, make the room grander just by being there?
Monochrome, sepia-tone wallpaper takes things down a notch, but still places a jungle canopy squarely inside a London hotel. Part of the allure of scenic paper is their ability to wrap you in colour and fantasy and transport you to a place that bears no relation to anything you would see outside your window.
Such as a Rajasthani elephant. Although technically this is a water scene, so apropos in a bathroom.
And who wouldn't want to be transported out of the laundry room? This print is similar to a famous, hand-painted Gracie pattern (de Gournay and Zuber are two other venerable hand-painted wallpaper brands).
Chic heiresses like Aerin Lauder (above), the granddaughter of Estée, remembers Gracie wallpaper hanging in her grandmother's apartment and followed suit in the boudoir of her Park Avenue digs.
Here is a genuine Gracie sample, in all its opulent, hand-painted glory — but that's the whole idea behind scenic wallpapers: they mimic the painstaking work of an artist's hand.
Which is what makes Rufus Porter's work so ironic. In the 1900s he travelled all over New Hampshire, daubing insta-landscapes on tavern walls and parlours in a few hours for those who couldn't afford wallpaper, and along the way proved to be a real Renaissance man (he invented the revolver, founded Scientific American magazine and dabbled in early photography and aeronautics). Now that's vision.
View our Wallpapered Rooms photo gallery for more inspiration.
1. Sarah Rosenhaus Interior Design
2. Condé Nast Traveler
3. Knight Moves blog
4. Gingiber blog
5. Harper's Bazaar, photography by Anders Overgaard, via The Posh Space blog
6. A Flippen Life blog
7. MB Historic Décor
Window seats let you take in the wonder of fresh snowfall, or the drama of a thunderstorm, while you lie back and stay warm and dry. There's such a romance to window seats, and they're a practical way to max out an awkward space.
I wanted to update my bedroom window seat above (a prime squirrel surveillance outpost) but when I looked for inspiration photos, I was stumped. Most were clogged with enough pillows for an opium den, or topped with swags of balloon drapes — the effect was claustrophobic, not dreamy. So what does it take to make a window seat you can crush on?
If you have beautiful mullions and trim, show them off and skip the fussy window treatments.
Treat a window seat like its own little room with panelling and light fixtures. This window seat obviously moonlights as a guest bedroom with a trundle bed and pillows that are part and parcel of the bedding.
Use quality cushions, no thin little mats or dinky toss pillows. This London window seat is spartan for sure, but the deep padding still makes it look like a cushy spot to lounge.
To create an ultra-calming environment, go with neutral fabrics, like these butterscotch-hued cushions that practically melt into sauna-inspired bench seating.
Use your view as inspiration for the palette: watery blue fabrics and blond wood complement this bay vista.
Finally, if the view from your window seat looks like this, you can't really go wrong. It's the best perch in this Cali treehouse-style studio, and reading material is always close at hand.
Find more ideas for window seats here.
1. Wendy Jacob
2. Houzz.com, kitchen design by Brian Watford
4. Platform 5 Architects
6. Houzz.com, kitchen design by Mahoney Architects & Interiors
7. Wordever.com, design by Safdie Rabines Architects