How to find balance with black and white

Black and white is a neutral color combination that can easily be dressed up or dressed down, while in many cases serving as the perfect base for almost any color palette. The key, according to many designers, is finding the ideal balance of how and when to use combinations of the two colors in a space. Here are a few tips.

To do

1. Consider artwork to infuse black and white into a space.

2. Incorporate black and white accents and accessories to infuse a black and white color palette.

3. Consider painting as an accent wall to bring black and white into a space.

4. Pair pops of color with a black and white color scheme. Greens and yellows are colors that work well.

5. Infuse large-scale black and white elements into a space like an oversized piece of art.

Not to do

1. Don’t oversaturate a space with too much black or too much white. A ratio of 50-50 or 70-30 is a good rule of thumb.

2. Do not include too dark elements in a dimly lit room. In these cases, infuse tints, tones and shades of white, and use black as an accent.

3. Don’t overlook opportunities to bring black and white into a space in large and bold ways, such as larger furniture and upholstery.

4. Don’t ignore wearable decor options to bring in black and white, like cushions, throws and accessories.

5. Don’t overdo it. Remember that less is more. Use black and white as the basis for your color story.

(New York-based Cathy Hobbs is an Emmy-winning television host and nationally acclaimed interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York, Boston and Washington, DC. Contact her at or visit her website at

About Gertrude H. Kerr

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