6 Expert Tips For Decorating With Black And White
If there’s anyone who knows how to pull off black and white interiors with ease it’s Australian architect and interior designer Greg Natale. Greg looks to fashion greats like Tom Ford and Halston for inspiration, but his mix of high-contrast hues feels entirely innate. His first book, The Tailored Interior (Hardie Grant Books, $55) begins with a foreword by design legend Jonathan Adler, followed by chapter-by-chapter breakdowns on topics like contrast, layering and proportion. Learn how to transform your own home using black, white and shades of grey for a look that feels effortlessly elegant, and of course, tailored.
Greg chose grey grass cloth wallpaper to offset this Melbourne dining room’s expansive white walls and ceiling. “Large spaces provide the opportunity to introduce a variety of treatments — perhaps breaking up vast wall areas with panels, artworks and different finishes, or adding extra furniture and accessories,” explains Greg.
If you’re working with a smaller space, don’t be afraid to try graphic wallpaper. “In the living room of this small one-bedroom apartment in Fitzroy, the diagonal stripes of my wallpaper seem to elongate the walls, an effect heightened by the narrow portraits and low sofa and table,” says Greg.
High-contrast spaces may not have a cornucopia of colors, but they needn’t lack in textures or patterns. “Contrasts of tone, shape and texture are central to the library and study of this Sutton Forest country house, with elements such as the rug and cushion patterns, curtain trim and ottoman fringe providing detailed finishing touches,” says Greg.
Greg’s tip for painting walls black: “Many people are hesitant about using dark colors for walls, but it is entirely possible — and pleasingly dramatic — to embrace dark walls, wallpaper and even ceilings as long as you have sufficient natural light,” he says.
When mixing color into a black and white space remember that less is more. Greg recommends limiting how many colors you choose. In this Edwardian house, Greg painted one wall in a soft blue to offset Fornasetti’s Malachite wallpaper and chose terracotta orange as the second accent color, which can be seen in the painting and rug.
Greg’s tip for picking accent colors: “A good guide is two neutrals and two hues, sometimes adding one extra accent color to make the others pop.”
Black and white are undoubtedly a pair for the ages, but shades of grey are also quite at home with the high-contrast duo. “If monochrome is the black tie of interior design, then grey and white is its morning suit. Elegant and classic, it produces a softer effect than black and white while still offering a striking, formal pairing,” explains Greg.
Introducing gold as an accent color is an instant way to warm up a cool black and white space. “Against the moody charcoal-grey backdrop, gilt elements in this living room create a visual conversation between pieces,” says Greg.