Black and white living room ideas can take your home from dull to delightful and be used to create a design with staying power. Monochrome can be a bold look as it's high contrast, but it can be dialed down or up, depending on how the two shades are used across the room.
When looking for simple living room ideas, you can make a home feel calm, collected, and effortlessly on-trend with a black and white scheme.
So, what are the best ways to use this color combo? We asked top designers to show us the way to make monochrome modern and interesting. Here are our favorite ideas.
10 fantastic black and white living room ideas
1. Use black accents in a white living room
If you aren't fully sold on drenching your living room with black paints, a great way to still create a black and white living room scheme is by adding subtler black accents.
These could be in the form of rugs, curtains, accessories, or an occasional chair. Not only will this have a real impact, but the temporary accents can also easily be swapped out if there’s another must-have trend on the horizon.
'When working with a small space, embrace a clean white color scheme to open up a space, then use accents of black on paneling, trim or a linear divider to make a real statement,' says Helen Shaw, director at Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab) UK. 'Alternatively, for a more industrial feel, consider a layered scheme with black brassware and darker grey accents to create a sleek look.'
Another way to accent the room with black is with decorative boxes, frames, and coffee table books rooted in the dark shade. At other times, all you need is a black lamp to set the room for the palette you want. A minimalist floor lamp or even black wall sconces can add to the living room color scheme.
2. Consider a monochrome feature wall in your living room
'A feature wall is a great way to make a bold statement,' says Natasha Bradley, director of interior design at Lick (opens in new tab). 'It will provide an easy way to inject a dash of creativity on a manageable scale. It could be a fantastic wallpaper or perhaps a black paint color.'
Of course, while fully painted feature walls continue to hold appeal, homeowners are also willing to experiment with different materials and looks.
Framed prints look great, are affordable and any good home decor store will have a lovely collection of black frames if your prints are a standard size. Keep the walls white and hang these prints for a stunning gallery wall feel.
Murals are also an interesting living room trend to explore. The beauty of murals is that if there is a design you love, you can get it hand-painted by a professional onto your wall, and give your home a personal touch. The intensity, ratio, and undertones of the colors can be customized for the perfect look.
3. Paint the floor and joinery black
Black floors can act as a foil for fabulous accessories and colors, as against it everything looks brighter and more pronounced. If you'd love to bring the black and white effect underfoot, opt for a checkerboard floor that can give a smart edge to the room.
Do take note that if you have an all-black painted floor, the upkeep can be more significant. Consider durable gloss or reflective tiles and paints that bounce light around the room and make the interiors seem brighter.
Of course, painting the floor black or choosing dark tiles is a big commitment when it comes to choosing living room flooring ideas. So if you’re unsure, cheat with a rug instead. You can also bring in black by painting all the joinery this dark hue.
'We love designing joinery for the client to showcase either book or personal objects and we often choose to build the joinery in black valchromat to contrast dramatically to white walls,' says Jean Dumas of Trellik Design Studio (opens in new tab). 'The depth of the color of the valchromat material allows whatever art or book that is displayed to stand out.'
4. Experiment with color blocking in a black and white space
One of the greatest things about color blocking is that you can implement as many or as few colors as you want. It lends itself well to black and white, too.
Using black and white to color block can look striking, but consider introducing a variety of textures and materials in the room so that the contrast doesn't look too stark.
A color block with black and white also can help highlight special architectural details, like beams, columns, and even door frames. In this image, for instance, the eyes travel up to see the contrast between the walls and the ceiling. And in doing so, one notices the beautiful cornice details on the wall.
Incidentally, color blocking can be done with artworks and even books. Color-coded objects create a wonderful visual story. When working with black and white, consider adding one other solid color perhaps on the living room window treatments, to give the room a visual spike.
'This living room, like the whole apartment, is designed in a single minimalist style and color scheme: a strict black-and-white base and bright fuchsia inserts,' says Rustem Urazmetov, principal architect, UR Bureau (opens in new tab).
'The color-blocking technique is used in the distribution of color – accents are placed as boldly as possible, in large color blocks. The principle that I often use in my projects is to treat space as a three-dimensional canvas so that it has large strokes of black and white and subtle graphic elements. The color dilutes the severity of the monochrome background.'
5. Inject warmth to the black and white living room with plush materials
Black and white can sometimes look harsh, especially if you decide to go with a brilliant white; one that has no undertones and reflects maximum light. One way to lighten the scheme for a cozy living room is by introducing plenty of textures. A fluffy carpet, a fur throw, silk cushions and more can add depth and intrigue.
'Warm things with textures and layers of organic materials including a timber vintage chair, sheepskin throw, tone-on-tone dark bark-colored velvet sofa,' says Anna Burles, interior designer, Run for the Hills (opens in new tab) . 'Accenting here and there with some gold and brass accents to the drinks trolley could work as well.'
6. Bring in other colors to keep things interesting
Don’t feel you have to stick to black and white in a monochrome scheme. Bright pops of colors can bounce off this look. Soft palettes look particularly good against black and white spaces. One great companion to a solid monotone palette is pink. The combination can warm up a dark room, making it appear inviting.
Another color that goes with black and white is grey. Usually, the color is considered a neutral shade as well but when its deeper tones are used, it can add an interesting layering to the room. The three shades together can create a mesmerizing light and shade scheme.
'While there are several combinations that work, I think black is a wonderful color that goes with green. This is a naturally occurring pairing in nature and easy on the eye regardless of the tone,' says interior designer Natalie Tredgett (opens in new tab).
7. Add metallic tones for a luxe look
Largely, black and white is the perfect background for all kinds of metallic accents to glow – gold, silver, and copper will stand out and add tons of vibrancy to the space. Although, be cautioned that using black, white, and gold could make your room feel like the Palace of Versailles if you aren't careful. The trick is in proportions.
If you’re going for gold, keep it to a minimum. A gilt-edged mirror, a gold wall hanging or a minimalistic chandelier could all stand out against the black and white theme without looking too OTT.
Another way to keep the metallics restrained is by grouping them. Perhaps keep all the gold or silver accessories on one table, while allowing the other tabletops to feature fresh flowers or books. You could also consider bringing in monochrome mosaics or living room furniture with ornate detailing and motifs in gold or silver.
8. Make a black and white statement with a wallpaper
This is the perfect solution for those who are too scared to go with solid black paint and would prefer a middle ground with wallpaper. Black, patterned wallpaper can break up the monotony of a white wall and engulf the room with rich beauty.
Overall, it's a good idea to choose large format patterns for living room wallpaper ideas that look great in big rooms, and give the wall some breathing space. You could even go in for textured wallpapers like leather or tile-finish wallpapers that look realistic and give the space beautiful layering.
9. Add materials that warm up a black and white scheme
If you think about it, brown and black are seemingly on two opposite sides of the neutral coin: black is usually considered bold or overpowering, and brown is both earthy and maybe sometimes boring. White as we all know is a universal neutral, which doesn't command a lot of opinions. However, when all three combine, the effect can be quite interesting.
Unlike black, brown doesn’t usually vie for attention and so it makes for an excellent choice in monotone rooms that seek patterns, textures, and a slice of something new. The best way to bring in brown is either through wood or leather furniture. See how the tan sofa and the wooden coffee table light up the monochrome scheme.
Another reason to befriend brown for an elegant living room is that the boldness of black can sometimes be too strong, especially in large amounts. But when the color is mixed with other neutrals, including white, the dramatic nature of the color can be calmed down.
10. Bring in pattern in the black and white space
One of the best things about patterns is that they’re versatile and can lift a plain interior. Take stripes, for instance – they can bring a stylized look to a place, contrast a design or lift the mood of staid areas.
Consider adding long, vertical black and white stripes in a monotone room to give the design some movement. This living room curtain idea, with curtains and valance in monochrome stripes, gives a sense of more height and lifts the solid-toned space just the right amount.
What colors go with black and white room?
Several colors go in a back and white living room. Essentially, the two colors are usually read as one neutral palette, such that any third color can be brought in for layering.
Consider coupling the monochrome living room with earthy hues such as brown or sage. This will help create a snug interior. If you love high-energy spaces, then rich jewel tones like emerald green or deep blue look fab.
Metallic colors such as gold or silver mix well within monochromatic rooms, creating a sumptuous interior. Black and red look contemporary and chic. And finally, while many colors go with green, the coupling with black and white can look fresh and calming to the overall scheme.
How do you make a black and white room cozy?
Simple – with textures and the right lighting! A monotone room can sometimes feel too stark and cold, and the best way to warm it up is with the right balance of textures.
Choose natural textiles, handmade materials, plush linens, silks, fur, and velvet. These can bring a flat scheme to life and offer comfort to the dweller. Also, texture can dampen sound and give the room a cozier feel.
Other than fabrics, raw natural materials like paneling or stone can add a sense of calm and warmth, adding interest to a black and white scheme.
As for lighting, a well-lit room with mood lighting can change the atmosphere of a space. Consider yellow lights for the black and white living room so none of the colors look too stark and in-your-face.
Choose table lamps for soft, focused illumination, and bring in a crystal chandelier that throws a warm glow over the monochrome scheme at all times.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.