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Back in Black

“Back in Black”
By Rachel Perls of Hue Consulting, decor8 guest writer

Fall is finally here; our palette has turned to deep, rich, autumnal colors. With the colder weather approaching, we move indoors, looking forward to making our spaces warm and cozy for the months ahead. Light, airy whites and pastels are tucked away in storage, and denser, muted tones become more prevalent, ushering in a feeling of weight, comfort and stability.

Via Domino magazine.

Black is a strong, dependable color that becomes quite prevalent in home decorating during this season. It has a sense of permanence, and solidity that is reassuring. How decadent and glamorous is this room shown above? Black represents sophistication and substance. The ultimate chic color for cocktail parties and black-tie affairs, it can morph into a completely different interpretation with a simple change of context.

People react quite strongly to this hue, which is actually the absence of all pigment. It signifies mourning in many cultures, as well as danger, or the supernatural. It is ominous, the fear of the unknown. Black represents power, which can be reassuring, or scary, depending upon whom wields it.

One combo that packs a punch is black and yellow. In nature, black and yellow color patterns communicate to predators that an animal is dangerous, like stinging wasps or poisonous snakes. We?re biologically conditioned to pay special attention to this color duo.

Via CB2

Another popular match is black and red. It has a strong Asian flair, and looks amazing in lacquered finishes.

A fresh, modern variation of the red and black theme substitutes fuchsia for the red, lightening the mood considerably.

Via Domino magazine

Or experiment with orange and black, another stunning combination.

Via Domino magazine

Have you considered pairing black with kelly green?

When paired with other bright colors, black works as a unifying element. How fun is this treatment? I feel like I just stepped into a pop art painting.

Bathrooms are a great place to experiment with dramatic tones.

Trend-wise, I?ve read that dark cabinets for kitchens are very hip these days, Susan from the blog The Kitchen Designer, is a terrific source for trend watching in this area of the home. But be forewarned about those oh-so-popular black granite countertops. Ergonomically, they are horrible for your vision because there isn?t enough contrast between the work surface and your kitchen items; this causes eyestrain.

Via HGTV

Just by tweaking the texture, surface, and tone of black, you can create vastly different moods. This shiny kitchen by Miles Redd is really over the top, but I thought it was so fun, I couldn?t resist.

Here, a room by Nicole Sassaman has a soft matte black wall of chalkboard paint.


If you don?t know where to start, accent pieces and dark flooring are great places to begin introducing ebony into your spaces. (Remember the Nate Berkus NYC Aparment reveal on Oprah?) Black can look great with almost any color, especially if it is used with contrasting lighter colors. You absolutely need the contrast, so don?t go too overboard with this inky tone.

Any questions regarding black that you have? Please leave your question or comment below and I’ll gladly do what I can to answer!

(images linked accordingly above. some links via desire to inspire.)


White Inspiration – Flickr Slideshow

If white hasn’t inspired you yet, I pulled together this set featuring 285 of my favorite mostly white photos for your enjoyment. I think it will do the trick! From products to rooms, animals to nature, I think you’ll like clicking through these gorgeous images. All of them have been featured on decor8 at one time or another, so for long time readers, you should recognize many of them. It’s fun to see them all grouped together!


You can also view them as a slideshow against black right here and adjust the speed to slow, medium or fast in the lower left corner. I hope you like it. Have fun!

Posted in Color Inspiration, Decorating Tips on September 20, 2007

The Beach Studios

Let’s continue the theme of white for a moment with a glimpse into the properties offered to the film and photography industry by The Beach Studios in the UK. They have some of the most outstanding real estate where white is the “it” color and quite heavenly.


I enjoy looking at spare spaces, especially since I’m not sure if I could live in one without splashes of bold color and pattern, but for those that can I tip my hat to you because I don’t think I could survive amidst a white canvas without doing something to it. Again, it’s design ADD. At the rate I change things around in my own home, I think an all white space would last about a week for me. Funny thing is, I feel the most relaxed and focused in a white room. So why don’t I have at least one in my home? It’s a question I’ve asked myself for some time now.


Let’s enjoy these white spaces for a moment, shall we? Be sure to study each image, examine placement of objects and why white ‘works’ in each room. Perhaps there’s a beautiful view, various tones of white being used, texture, a slight burst of color…

I’m not one to gravitate towards leather furniture, but this worn leather chair looks so cozy, it really warms up the space. I also like seeing twinkle lights around mirrors, I do the same thing but not for holidays, year round. I also arrange entire strands of them inside of large glass vases, they look pretty on top of tall cabinets, on the fridge, or in the corner of a living room. Just be sure to purchase the lights with the white cord, green looks dreadful!

Shots of pink! Yay! This space is so glamorous, a modern day Marilyn Monroe. I picture a very successful leggy blonde at this table. Gwen Stefani, perhaps?

More delicious pale pink. And a shot of seafoam green. Yum. Of course, these rooms all have the most amazing bones, from the floors to the ceilings, so how can you go wrong decorating a space like this?

Now we’re seeing the space with black accents. Nice combination. Black and white consistently wins awards, it’s such a classic.

More mini shots of seafoam green. Wouldn’t you fancy a spot of tea at this well arranged table? I see more and more bench seating at tables than ever before. I like a bench like the one shown above against the wall, paired with two chairs. I’ve been thinking of trying this look, it’s a nice mix. My friend Crystal in Montreal has a very rustic farmer’s table paired with a church pew and a few chairs. The pew came from a church that had closed, she grabbed it, cleaned it up a little, and made a cushion for it out of white linen.

Not much to this simple shed space (perhaps that’s the appeal?), but I can imagine it transformed into the most lovely guest house or art studio. This setting speaks to me on every level. It’s so serene. I want to own a shed like this someday.

A shot of blue overhead (canisters) gives this kitchen some personality. I like the birdcage on the back cabinet and the chandelier, but it seems a bit high for my taste. I wouldn’t be able to stop there though with my accessories, I’d stack vintage tea towels on the counter and add a colorful stripey rug beneath that table. Fresh flowers on the table in a vintage pitcher (yellow?). And a painting. Must have art.

For more on white interiors, click here.

(images from the beach studios uk)

Posted in Color Inspiration, Decorating Tips on September 20, 2007

It’s All White

By Rachel Perls of Hue Consulting, decor8 guest writer

White is the color of whipped cream and popcorn, of fresh snow and fluffy clouds. It is the presence of all colors in light, but the absence of color in pigment. White has the vibrancy to rival the brightest hues, so should not be considered a neutral. Think of whitewashed buildings in Greece overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean.

via: Flickr

A common misconception is that white, in and of itself, will make a space bigger and brighter. Much of this depends on the lighting-just picture that small, dark hallway with white walls. It tends to look grey and dingy, doesn?t it? Without light streaming through a big window, it doesn?t work. I must admit, as a color consultant, trained in the psychological and physiological effects of color, I try to steer my clients away from using too much white. From a scientific perspective, studies have shown that it has little, if any, positive psychotherapeutic value. But, these articles on color are good exercises in learning how to embrace something that you might otherwise wrinkle your nose at. And so, without further ado, I bring you, white!

Signifying purity, simplicity, and the barest of essentials, white is a favorite of designers and architects for sparse modern spaces.

It?s also been embraced for a more country feeling; think Rachel Ashwell?s Shabby Chic. Thought of as clean and pristine, you have to be careful not to over-do using white because it runs the risk of appearing cold, lacking emotional warmth, even clinical.

To avoid this effect, off-whites such as ivory, cream, and whites tinted with colors can be layered in, adding texture and softness.

One Room, Three Ways via: Southern Living

One Room, Three Ways via: Southern Living

One Room, Three Ways via: Southern Living

It?s a great place to start with your big ?base? pieces: the couch, fireplace mantle and side chair. Then bring in other colors to really customize the space to your taste. Same basic elements, totally different feel to each.

White is great as an accent, to add contrast, and provide a unifying element through spaces. For instance, white trim, molding and floorboards. Or how about this great idea – artwork all framed in white-so sharp!

White kitchens are quite popular. As a super duper messy cook, my white cabinets and stove are my undoing; every tiny little splatter glares back at me. It sure does look lovely paired with some soft blues, doesn?t it?

via: Fired Earth

Another way to avoid white?s side effect of sterility is to bring in different textures and natural materials. I love the bathroom shown above with soft, natural stone and creamy colored tiles. Just think about all the different materials you can use, all with vastly different looks- stone, ceramic tile, painted wood?

These rooms use the same color scheme, but look at how a few key pieces can completely change its character.

White is a blank canvas, and really is there for you to project your personal tastes and styles upon. How do you feel about white? How do you use it in your home?

{Thank you Rachel for stopping in with your post about white. To read more of Rachel’s insights on color, visit her blog or previous articles written for decor8 right here. -holly}

Posted in Color Inspiration, Decorating Tips, guest bloggers on September 20, 2007

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