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Monochrome Decorating Is Having a Major Moment

Monochrome Decorating Is Having a Major Moment
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Any design-lover who’s ever landed on a Scandinavian blog via Pinterest knows how appealing that strikingly simplistic approach to color can be. British interiors stylist Hilary Robertson, the aesthetic genius behind some of the most memorable decorating imagery out there today (those surfaces don’t magically style themselves, you know), understands this better than most. Her new book, Monochrome Home, beautifully captures her passion for pared-down palettes. The gorgeous interiors included make a compelling argument for pledging your decorating devotion to black, white, and every shade of gray. Are you ready to give up the rainbow? Below, Robertson offers five good reasons to do so.

Inside the home of Pierre Emmanuel Martin and Stéphane Garotin, owners of Maison Hand, located in Lyon in the South of France. The blue velvet sofa stands out among a sea of gray and white.

Inside the home of Pierre Emmanuel Martin and Stéphane Garotin, owners of Maison Hand, located in Lyon in the South of France. The blue velvet sofa stands out among a sea of gray and white.

#1: Being a Monochromist Makes Decorating Easier

“Monochrome interiors are restful, timeless, and practical,” writes Robertson. “By restricting the color palette, any number of eclectic elements can exist happily together, inexpensive or simple things look more sophisticated, and decorating decisions are made easier.” Rather than limiting your decor choices, Robertson says, it’s quite the opposite: “Committing to a monochrome scheme might sound restrictive, but it affords the decorator considerable freedom to experiment with mixing pieces from different decades, adding pattern, and layering texture.”

Against the dark wall, vignettes in shades of white and cream really pop, as does the shapely silhouette of the Saarinen side table.

Against the dark wall, vignettes in shades of white and cream really pop, as does the shapely silhouette of the Saarinen side table.

#2: No More Agonizing Over Color Combos

“If it’s all neutral, it all works together,” says Robertson. “It might take some discipline at first, but once you start editing, decisions become remarkably simple. Those hours spent contemplating paint swatches, combining them, imagining a way for all the different spaces in a home to flow visually, creating a cohesive whole, are over.”

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This black-and-white vignette mixes a variety of textures and styles, including a simple white console table, a 1960s stool, and a nubby braided basket, to create a striking moment.

This black-and-white vignette mixes a variety of textures and styles, including a simple white console table, a 1960s stool, and a nubby braided basket, to create a striking moment.

#3: White Can Do Wonders

“There are countless good reasons to choose white. So many, in fact, that I’m baffled by people who insist on asking if I don’t worry about it being cold, sterile, empty? No, no, and no, I reply, quite the opposite.” Robertson goes on to share just a few of her favorite attributes of a mainly white color scheme. “White is reflective, peaceful, and restorative… White and its related shades of pale seem to enlarge a space.” As for what to combine with white, Robertson’s answer is clear: “White loves black. Black loves white.” In a room with white walls, she suggests using black to command attention. “Mixing black furniture, black-and-white photography, and a lamp or two adds punctuation to a room, and a rug combining both colors will ground it.”

In this Copenhagen bedroom, a built-in headboard and the walls surrounding it are painted black, while the bed is a sea of textured white linens. The carefully chosen items above the bed add even more textural interest to the room.

In this Copenhagen bedroom, a built-in headboard and the walls surrounding it are painted black, while the bed is a sea of textured white linens. The carefully chosen items above the bed add even more textural interest to the room.

#4: Monochrome Can Swing Between Styles

A simple palette doesn’t mean your room will look one-note. According to Robertson, textures are the key elements that give monochromatic rooms their stylistic direction. “Choosing bleached wood, a nubby jute rug, handwoven baskets, or a lampshade knitted in wool takes an interior in a modern rustic direction, whereas adding geometric copper candlesticks, a severe side chair fashioned from sleek folded metal, industrial lighting, and sculptural marble objects takes a lead from contemporary Scandinavian trends.” Whichever direction you go, be sure to use a variety of tactile elements. “Mix those ‘hard’ elements with tactile and luxurious textiles—nubby handwoven linen, buttery leather, sheepskin, mohair—and a room becomes rich with visceral contrasts that make it interesting.”

In the living room of a Milanese architect, a single black accent wall is met on either side by walls painted a dark gray. A light linen sofa and a few wood pieces balance the gray club chairs, rug, and metal coffee table.

In the living room of a Milanese architect, a single black accent wall is met on either side by walls painted a dark gray. A light linen sofa and a few wood pieces balance the gray club chairs, rug, and metal coffee table.

#5: Going Dark Can Be a Decorating Solve

“Instead of struggling to lighten a dark or gloomy space, embrace the atmosphere created by going for intense, dark shades, and then choose to illuminate with targeted lighting from lamps or candlelight,” advises Robertson. “Darkness can have a soporific effect, so it is generally best reserved for rooms arranged for sleep or relaxation, and it’s an effective way of giving a space with restricted daylight a definite identity.”

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2 Responses to “Monochrome Decorating Is Having a Major Moment”

  1. Dawn S. Marvin says:

    I have long been thinking of decorating in shades of white only with maybe some pales mixed in as accents. I think it would be very soothing. Thanks for validating this design style with your article on One Kings Lane.

  2. Debie Pettry says:

    Each of these rooms was striking.

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