How to master monochrome

Combining black and white is an ode to elegance. The beauty, sophistication and simplicity of monochrome has been celebrated by interior designers and artists for centuries.

In Italian, there is a word devoted to the magic of monochrome, called 'chiaroscuro' – literally translating to the play of light and shadow using black and white tones. 

The chic and classy aesthetic of monochromatic colour schemes can add character to any room, whether it be revamping your home office or upgrading your lounge into an oasis of luxury. Monochrome is a timeless style, not only testing the course of history, but also evolving into a current on-trend global phenomenon in interior design. 

However, mastering the art of monochrome requires careful consideration. These three steps can help you unleash your inner artistic genius and embrace monochromatic decorating ideas. 

1. Colour-match your blacks and whites.

First and foremost, it is important to note that black and white come in a myriad of tones – some cooler, some warmer, some more velveteen, some matte.

For instance, Resene Black Sheep exudes a warmth underneath the black hue, while Resene All Black boasts sumptuous, deep onyx-like tones. 

Similarly, white also comes in a multitude of iterations. The spectrum of white ranges from ivory, pearly notes like in Resene Buttery White and extends to sunnier, bronzed hues such as Resene Quarter Spanish White.

As a result, colour-matching turns into a lovely game – which precise version of black will best complement the white you selected?

Our helpful team at Resene can guide you, or you can make choices from the comfort of your couch by using our online ColourMatch service.

2. Think about texture and gloss. 

An excellent way to jazz up black and white is by adding texture or gloss to the paint finish. This is a simple way to avoid flatness, animating the walls and bringing life to them. Because black and white is minimalist, sprucing up with texture or gloss can dramatically improve the way they contrast. 

Though it isn't only the walls that could turn to texture. Cushions with fur, rugs with tassels and photo frames with carved edges can all be added as black-and-white accents to the room. Often, home decorating ideas take into account every detail and the best way to master monochrome is to extend it completely so that the entire room is immersed in those colours. 

3. Ease the eyes with patterns.

Rather than adding total blocks of pure black and white, stunning patterns can liven up a monochromatic palette. A smart way to achieve this is by adding low tack masking tape to your walls in linear patterns, and then rolling over them with paint. Once the paint is dry, gently peel the tape off and voila – you have an eye-catching focal point. 

Alternatively, for those who want an easier and time-saving method, wall decals can come to the rescue. For an ornate and regal approach, you can add decorative motifs using damask or floral prints. On the other hand, for those who have a taste for the modern and contemporary look, you can pare the patterns back with only a few thin lines or swirls. 

Equally, consider the variety of two-toned patterns such as chevron prints and checkers when purchasing rugs, pillows, vases and even your kitchen cutlery and plates. These smaller items in black-and-white can add the wow factor to the similar tones on the walls, creating a total harmony in the space. 

Marvel over monochrome in your home 

Sometimes less truly is more, and monochrome is a perfect example of this. As a final stroke of genius to your monochromatic canvas, frame some abstract artworks done in charcoal and chalk and hang them on the walls or create a blackboard with Resene Blackboard Paint for an ever-changing artwork space. Sketches done by children on watercolour paper using only black pencils can also be a sentimental and sweet addition to the monochrome theme. 

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