10 tips for creating a black and white interior !!

/images/black_and_white_interior_1.jpg

image: likainen parketti

There is nothing as smart as black and white !! And you don’t need another colour at all if you are clever with texture and pattern.  How inviting is the grey woollen blanket above, not to mention the rustic trunk …. the juxtaposition of the contemporary slick white walls with lots of texture, pattern and vintage !!

/images/black_and_white_interior_2.jpg

Again, a simple white interior contrasted with the warmth and texture of the linen sofa and timber table.  Interestingly, it is the definite contrast of the black shade, television and other smaller pieces that create the statement.

/images/black_and_white_interior_3.jpg

images:jakob nylund

This is an example of pure white on white with not a lot of black …… however you don’t need a lot to make the statement.

/images/black_and_white_interior_4.jpg

image: apartmentsilike

In contrast, the black in this interior is strong and bold and looks fabulous !!

The combination of the very definite black and white stripes with the softer lines of the sofa and armchair works beautifully. The detailed window architrave and rustic side tables soften the linear effect of the rug.

So be bold ….. go forth and embrace black and white for its simplicity, its inherent style and its flexibility.

Some black and white suggestions ……

almost black walls with white ceiling, doors, windows, skirting and architraves, floors pale bleached timber

white walls, ceiling and trims with black gloss timber floor

bathrooms with white wall tiles, predominantly white tiled floor with small black tile in check pattern, black vanity as a contrast with white bath and basin

all white kitchens with a very thick black benchtop … particularly good with black timber floor or even grey bleached timber

staircases in white with black handrail and tread only

charcoal to black painted exterior for timber houses or sheds with white trim on windows, doors and shutters

black and white photographs framed in black on a white wall or framed in white on a black wall

a soft black fringed throw rug on a bed made with crisp white bedlinen and doona

thick black bath towels hanging or folded in an all white bathroom

a large vase full of fully blown pink roses in any black and white interior ….

Designer rugs by fabulous designers

/images/designer_rugs_by_catherine_martin_2.jpg

/images/designer_rugs_by_catherine_martin_3.jpg

The very clever Designer Rugs has engaged a number of designers with differing skills and backgrounds to come up with a range of spectacular rugs…..we are talking Akira Isogawa, Dinosaur Designs and Easton Pearson to name a few.

My favourite rugs are interestingly both by Catherine Martin, production and costume designer to Baz Luhrmann’s fabulous Moulin Rouge and others.  Her philosophy for these patterns was to “transform the mundane into the extraordinary”.

The rugs themselves are works of art but to see the rug named Feathers in situ above…. one can appreciate the impact of a stunning pattern but in rather subtle tones on what would have been a very neutral or bland interior.

/images/designer_rugs-by-catherine_martin.jpg

This rather exotic rug named Peony caught my eye…..I pictured it immediately….. sitting on high gloss Black Japan timber flooring.  Such a rich and vibrant addition to a classic traditional or contemporary interior….. a similar feel to a Persian rug.  Persian rugs work with any period or style of furnishing and this rug would be equally as versatile.

Rugs certainly change the mood of any room….they are a little like accessories that can dress up or down an outfit….they dress the room !!!

Home away from home at the greenwich hotel new york

/images/greenwich_hotel-new_york_2].jpg

There is something rather special about boutique hotels like The Greenwich Hotel in New York…..they are so much more homely and inviting than the larger hotel chains….even if they are 5 star !!  The attention to detail during the design process is one thing but the concept of the smaller hotel offering a little more is what really makes the difference to its clientele.

The additional decorative items that you don’t see in the bigger hotels such as the occasional throw rug, coffee table books, magazines….the sort of decorative pieces that you would have in your own home or would like to have, are generously incorporated into both guestrooms and public spaces.

/images/greenwich_hotel-new_york_4].jpg

Having spent a number of years working on the interior design of large hotels and small, there is only so far the big hotels are prepared to go when it comes to individualizing either the guestrooms, lobbies, restaurants or bars.  Yes it is a staffing issue…..after all straightening books and decorative items does take time!!!

The reason I don’t go back to hotels I have worked on is that I have been known to plump up cushions or reposition a collection of items on a coffee table !! I have to say that a large part of the thought process when incorporating all the gorgeous extras is how it will stand the test of time …. and the general public.

/greenwich_hotel-new_york_5.jpg

Wonderful boutique hotels like The Greenwich have no two guestrooms alike.  They are elegantly eclectic …. incorporating delicate silk rugs, interesting art collections, glamorous mirrors and libraries of books…and are truly a luxurious home away from home.

/images/greenwich_hotel_new_york_.jpg

Grain sack fabrics both rustic and elegant

/images/grain_sack_fabric_1.jpg

I first stumbled across these fabrics at the iconic Peppergreen antique emporium in the Southern Highlands…..sadly no longer.  Shelves and even bolts of this vintage linen, cotton and flax grain sack fabric. I think what draws me to it is the subtlety in colour variation.  All very neutral, really only varying in texture from the soft scrubbed finish to a much coarser, almost hessianlike fabric.

/images/grain_sack_fabric_2.jpg

/images/grain_sack_fabric_3.jpg

The faded imprint of the logo or manufacturer only adds to the appeal….almost like works of art.

 Also falling into this category of fabrics I feel are the gorgeous antique european mangle cloths.  These are a softer colour palette and finer texture….fabulous for tablecloths and serviettes. I love the subtle stripe to the edge…..always faded red or navy.

/images/grain_sack_fabric_4.jpg

/images/grain_sack_fabric_5.jpg

images: homelife

Being so neutral these fabrics combine well with pattern…..however with their subtle shades of cream, putty or taupe are at their most elegant when incorporated into a cream or white interior.   Have fun with scatter cushions and interesting trimming….and think about loose covers !!

The most exciting part is searching for these fabrics at your favourite antique market…..

Tips for organizing your home office

/images/semikolon_document_folder.jpg

The time has come to reorganize my working space so that it not only functions more effectively but is inviting to spend time in.  I am particularly lucky to have taken over the room with the best view of our garden!! I overlook magnificent 80 year old maples and elms which I expect any day will start to turn for autumn and put on the usual spectacular display of colour.

I have to say that I do relish the thought of those bookshelves full of coordinating files and binders…..magazines perfectly filed in date order….you have the picture!!

However before I get to the fun bit there are certain tasks which I guess take priority –

create a clean space to work on by filing into binders, storage boxes or magazine holders any superfluous documents, stationary, pens, pencils etc

simple document trays allow you to keep in sight current items that you are dealing with, working on or referring to

if you are a visual person, a white board or planner would be helpful on a nearby wall beside or in front of your work space

assess whether additional shelving is necessary…those piles on the floor just don’t work

if your desk chair isn’t as good as it could be now is the time to start looking and trying out new ones…..you spend a lot of your day in this chair so it isn’t worth creating posture problems

good lighting is essential and task lighting is easily introduced with an adjustable lamp

/images/semikolon_desk.jpg

Now is the time to head off to buy those gorgeous binders and boxes…..try    Kikki K, or the gorgeous Semikolon stationary.  Filing can be fun if you have all the appropriate tools.

An ordered and calm space can only inspire creative thinking!!!

Carolyn quartermaine fabrics rediscovered

/images/carolyn_quartermaine_fabric_4.jpg

Featured in countless leading design magazines worldwide Carolyn Quartermaine’s fabrics have always been a favourite.  It is only fairly recently that I noticed that the fabric house Boyac in Sydney were the agent for them.  Carolyn, a London based designer and stylist works on projects both in the design and fashion world.

She is the textile designer who modernised my other favourite fabric….toile de jouy.  Always light, floating designs…ethereal.  ‘Art and inspiration flowing onto fabric’….Vogue Living Australia.

/images/carolyn_quartermaine_fabrics_3.jpg

These fabrics are feminine and pretty yet hold their own in elegant, formal rooms ….. particularly when used as upholstery on french furniture, in fact any antique furniture …..aged, gilt or white washed!!! Her classic designs of lace or script create a formality.

I have on the other hand seen her fabrics used in very formal interiors ….. they seem to provide the whimsical element… it just works.

Since the 90’s Carolyn has always been able to predict and translate trends.

/images/carolyn_quartermaine_fabrics2.jpg

Interestingly, I noticed that there are parts of her collection that have moved away from the colour pallettes here…..she has a brighter more vibrant range with turquoise, aqua and lime…..just fabulous for beach houses and resorts !!

James salmond style

/images/james_salmond_cabinet.jpg

It was with much pleasure that James Salmond launched his latest collection of exquisite furniture pieces this week.  Classic and contemporary is his trademark and doesn’t he do it so beautifully.  The thought he puts into each piece is very evident……his wonderful style shining!!

He is always on the hunt for original bits and pieces that he can incorporate into his designs or take inspiration from in some fashion.  The cabinet above has been designed around his collection of small stone bottles….only James could create such an elegant piece with the choice of timber and design complimenting the warmth and earthy texture of the bottles.

/images/james_salmond_with_%20gold_%20chair.jpg

James explains that this classic chair covered in gold with stud trim is the perfect size, height and proportion to have as a pair with side table in any room adjacent to the dining room…..simply add them in to your dining room setting for extra seating. All furniture is custom made to order with of course your favourite fabric.

 I do have to say that James has impeccable taste and style when choosing the perfect fabric to suit his pieces of furniture.  The fabrics in his showroom currently are particularly fabulous……grey, gunmetal and gold…..the future direction we are told.

/images/james_salmond_tall_bookcases.jpg

images: tess brennan

The tall bookcases above show his fine ability to combine classic elements yet create a contemporary piece…in fact a piece that would be at home in any interior…as long as you had the ceiling height!!

These bookcases were my favourite pieces in the showroom.  When I mentioned this to James he replied “you know you have created something special when you want to take it home” …I guess they are a favourite of his too.

White on white ……

/images/love_french_bulldogs.jpg

images: love french bulldogs

There are so many beautiful books published about a predominantly white interior. The look can be rustic, slick and contemporary, opulent or minimalist.  It also allows you to showcase anything you choose.

It could be bookcases filled with books, artwork, flowers in a vase, baskets, gilt mirrors or picture frames, porcelain ….. patterned, cream or white, architectural detailing or warm timbers.

Everything else in the room will be in contrast or shadow against the crispness of the white.

/images/love_french_bulldogs_2.jpg

My favourite shade of white has never altered…..Dulux White Birch.  It has enough warmth to give the room a certain glow.  For a very polished, state of the art interior I adore Dulux Vivid White !!!

An all white kitchen gives a feeling of orderliness and cleanliness…..an all white bathroom…..elegance and an all white bedroom……peacefulness.

Be bold…..floors can be cream or a light coloured carpet to complete the look. White painted timber floors can be both rustic or contemporary…..rather Scandinavian.

Don’t stop with the fabrics……what could be more divine than cream, white or antique linen in varying textures…..have fun!

/images/love_french_bulldogs_3.jpg

The latest design hunt by habitus living magazine

/images/annawili_highfield_owl.jpg

As I glanced at my Habitus Living magazine March edition (online) I was particularly interested in the interview with interior stylist and author Sibella Court.

Sibella’s design favourites included the Sydney artist Anna-Wili Highfield, making wonderful paper sculptures of all manner of animals but predominantly birds and horses. Her impressive client list includes no other than Hermes who commissioned a series of majestic horse masks.

It is worth also looking at her sculptures made with copper piping….quite amazing the movement she captures.

/images/annawili_highfield_hermes_%20horse.jpg

Without doubt my favourite of her paper birds is the owl in flight.  This may have something to do with the fact that we have a beautiful large white owl that visits our Southern Highlands garden at a certain time of the year …..sadly not every year.

For those of you that don’t know Sibella Court….she has a very interesting shop in Paddington and can be best described as being all about collecting and styling…..positively everything in sight.

  Her books Etcetera and Nomad showcase her talent beautifully….showing how to display your very own possessions and collections with style.  In the case of Nomad she works with the treasures and memories you have acquired while travelling…..so much better than poking them into a cupboard somewhere….the memories gone with them.

/images/sibella_court_etcetera.png

/images/sibella_court_nomad.png

The elegance of neutral bathrooms

/images/bathroom_1.jpg

The simplicity of this bathroom is very appealing.  I am loving the neutral tones and finishes…..classic and elegant.

/images/bathroom_2.jpg

Let the accessories tell the story and create the feel and mood…..what ever that may be.  Bring in texture, warmth and contrast.

/images/bathroom_3.jpg

Natural materials have a natural warmth and texture and require little else. They provide their own contrast and variation within the material itself.

/images/bathroom_5.jpg

Slick and contemporary or rustic and earthy …. neutral works best.

The White Company London stocks the most fabulous range of everything one needs for the bathroom….online.

images: the style files

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks