By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
City & Shore Magazine
The classic combination of black and white can be sophisticated, chic and timeless, or it can be cold and uninviting. It takes considerable skill to make the combination sizzle.
Iconic designer Dorothy Draper loved black-and-white floors and doors. Movies like Casablanca evoked romance in these opposite tones. And Yousuf Karsh presented the drama of black and white in his photos of Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and others.
Every designer has his or her own way with this combination, but leave it to Celerie Kemble, a former Palm Beacher who now designs mostly in New York, to give the best advice. Her Black & White (and a bit in between) was published in 2011 by Clarkson Potter, and the ideas are still fresh today. Her book highlights the work of popular designers such as Bunny Williams, Thomas O’Brien and Victoria Hagan. Kemble also gives her own sage advice. Here are a few tidbits gleaned from her book:
Don’t be too stuffy. Make sure to include a bit of whimsy in your design, such as placing a white swan on a black chest or upholstering chairs in a zebra pattern.
Don’t be too literal. Add natural materials and texture with natural wood, grass cloth and sisal.
Don’t be bland. Add a punch of color in a rug or throw pillows. Red is a natural, but you can use green, magenta or yellow.
Don’t forget the walls. Experiment with some bold pattern black-and-white wallpaper.
Don’t skimp on lighting. Remember the old black-and-white movies and black-and-white photos. The secret is in proper lighting. Light should come from more than two heights in a room, and dimmers are a must.