Posts Tagged ‘contemporary’

Black and White Color Palette – Oreo cookie style

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I found myself craving Oreo cookies the other day, which is unusual for me.  It’s not my usual cookie of choice, but cravings must be satisfied or they take on a life of their own.  While enjoying a couple of DoubleStuf Oreos and appreciating their simplicity, it struck me that they were a great inspiration for the quintessential color palette combination: black and white.

So here are some of my favorite black and white rooms. I tried to find spaces that only used those two colors. It’s interesting to see how often people choose these colors for their kitchens and bathrooms and how well these colors work in both traditional and contemporary rooms. 


This palette works well in any room of the house, even outdoors.

Alexander Wang, a successful product designer/artist, who tragically lost his life earlier this year (in what some believe was the result of his sleep disorder), created playful spaces with a unique mix of textures and forms in his loft in NYC (upper right picture).  I love the black trim around the windows in the upper right photo. It’s a trend that’s been emerging over the past couple of years and it can really change the feel of a space.

The white on black paneling on the lower right photo adds a great graphic element.  Most people would be terrified to have black walls, so they have guts.

The desk at right is another Alexander Wang piece. What an office that would make!  All the other rooms have dark walls, but all of the white trim, artwork, magazines and other design elements create balance to temper the darkness. The dining room at the bottom has classic bones and proportions, but mixing in the contemporary chairs and art hanging over the table keeps it young and fresh.

This final group showcases the power of wallpaper.  The graphic nature of these wallcoverings adds instant personality to each room.  The background in the dining room in the middle of the top row is actually a wall of patterned curtains with a valance above, but it creates the same type of effect with such a solid wall of pattern.    Powder rooms is a great place to experiment with bold colors and patterns since we spend so little time in them and they are small enough that no pattern will seem to go on and on.  My favorite room is the  dining room with the wall covering of a forest in black and white.  I love the juxtaposition of it with the traditional moldings and chair rail and the completely funky dripping chandelier off a natural branch style form. And the table settings in black are so minimal and modern. Brilliant mix.

I love color. But the restraint of a limited color palette can push you in new directions that can be a fun challenge. Remember to include a variety of textures and shiny and matte surfaces.  The eye needs visual variety, and if it’s not through color, make sure it gets it through textures and different tones.

Could you live with even ONE black and white room?  Which room would it be?

 Photo Credits:
1. Kitchen by In Search Of
2. Kitchen by Kate Hume of Birdman Furniture Company
3. NY Times article on Universal Design, 2-20-09
4. Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design via DesignSponge, 12-21-09
5. Backyard by Commune Design
6. Bathroom by Kjaer8 via DesignSponge, 11-09
7. Knack office
8. Unknown
9. Alexander Wang in his apartment, NY Times
10. Unknown
11. Room by Gal Nauer
12. Knack foyer
13. Living Room by Color Theory
14. Alexander Wang’s desk, NY Times
15. Knack living room
16. Dining Room by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design via DesignSponge, 12-21-09
17. Bathroom by Purple Design
18. Dining Room by owners of Maison 24
19. Fireplace wall with wallpaper by Jocelyn Warner
20. Dining Room with forest wall covering by Applied Image

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Cinnamon Rolls Inspired Palette

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The other night I had a very vivid dream involving a giant cinnamon roll – you know the kind that are the size of a dinner plate?  Needless to say, I woke up with quite a craving for cinnamon rolls.  After staring at the beauty that is a well crafted cinnamon roll, I realized it would be fun to use it as a source of inspiration.

So here are rooms that incorporate the colors of the cinnamon roll – the glossy white of the icing, the deep brown of the cinnamon filling, and the shades of golden brown of the bread.  This palette can work in every style of room – contemporary, cottage, rustic, traditional.


I like this mix of bedrooms. Notice the use of texture in these subtle palettes helps to add layers and interest.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

Bathrooms can be traditional – with marble counters and cream inset cabinetry, or rustic – with exposed beams, distressed cabinetry, crisp white walls and a creamy tub meant for hours of soaking.

Kitchens can be the new transitional – with a mix of vintage inspired stools, exposed beams, creamy walls, and sisal rugs balanced by crisp white cabinetry.  Or this palette can be applied to a traditional kitchen with buttery yellow walls (more butter isn’t really necessary on a cinnamon roll, but it sometimes tastes really good, admit it!), creamy inset cabinetry, a crisp white exposed sink and the warm tan of a butcher block countertop.  

Living Rooms and Dining Rooms


Here you can see the range of this palette.  Contemporary living rooms and dining rooms from sunny LA to NYC. A clean lined midcentury modern living room from the midwest. Axel Vervoordt’s Belgian antique filled dining room and living room with those great textural walls in such an enveloping shade of cream. 

However you live, there’s always a way to incorporate the cinnamon roll palette in your home. It results in such calm, inviting spaces, just like the bliss I feel after a cinnamon roll and a big glass of milk.  Has food every inspired your color palette?

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