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Recipes for Interior Decorating Success: Part 1: How to Create a Black and White Room

A recipe according to the dictionary is any formula especially one for preparing a dish in cookery. There is such a glut of food and interior design shows at the moment on Australia TV. I am having a great time with all the design shows and my husband is addicted to Master Chef. This has been to my advantage as he has now become serious about cooking and often cooks. I have often thought of creating interior decorating recipes. The idea came to me again last night so I thought just give it a try it so here goes this is my first series of interior decorating recipes.

Board created by Rosena on

A recipe is a formula

My first series of interior decorating recipes are based on an all white room. In the image above the timber floor boards have been painted white. The ceiling, walls and architectural detailing (skirting boards…) have also been painted white. The only variation to the white is the art work and accessories we can use this as the starting point.

Introducing my 1st series of interior decorating recipes using an all white room

Many cooking recipes have some basic ingredients. Then a number of various on the same dish can be developed. Below are the ingredients for the basic all white room. Then added to this are the ingredients required to make it a black and white room.

Black and White is Always Right    

Basic ingredients for an all white room

Timber floor boards – painted white

Skirting board, architraves – painted white

Ceiling & Walls – painted white

Sofa – white fabric

Cushions – white fabric

To these basic ingredients – a black & white art work has been added

Sample Board created by Rosena on

To create the Black and White room; pictured above the following items have been added

Black and white floor rug from Zuomod of South Africa

Leather armchair with animal sink upholstery side feature from Wunders of South Africa

Black side and coffee tables from Zuomod of South Africa

Floor cushion fabric faux leather from Comfort Creations of South Africa

Feature black and white wallpaper from Thibaut Design

Table Lamps from Spazio of South Africa

Sculptures from Andrestead Sculpture

Scatter cushions from Fundi Designs


Margaret Lord a pioneer Australian designer stated ‘…it is through the wide and continuous observation of many things that good taste as well as knowledge develops’.  One of the most helpful things you can do to develop your design skills is to become a great observer.  When you analyze interior design; check for each element of design individually. One of the best ways to do this is to ask yourself questions, for example ‘what sort of lines have been used are they straight or curved?’  Then do this with each element and then check how each of the principles of design has been adhered to.

The method

When decorating a room it is important to use the elements of design in such a way as to adhere to the principles of design. This will ensure the decoration of the room will be successful.

In this example the black and white used throughout the room creates a sense of harmony and unity

Contrast and emphasis is achieved by the black being placed to contrast with the white for example the leather floor rug, and leather cushions on the white timber floor. Also the black and white art work on the white wall allows the art work to be emphasized.

Adhere to the principles of design

Rhythm has been created in this design by repeating the bold black and white patterns throughout the room. For example the wall art, floor cushions, wallpaper and floor rug.

The principle of Proportion/gradation/alternation has been achieved with different sizes of patterns in the art work, floor rug, lamp shades and wallpaper.

Each element in the room has been played against each other to create a sense of balance.

Discord has been achieved with the armchair. It is dark brown making it an irregular object. It works because the black and white animal print on the side of the chair relates to the other items in the room.

Use (the tools of design) the elements carefully

Black and white are referred to as non colors or neutrals however colors schemes can be made up of neutrals as has been done in this project.

Color and line

The room is dominated by straight lines and the rectangular shapes, of the furniture, doorway, rug shape and art work. The organic forms in the patterns; of the rug, wallpaper, armchair and floor cushions add interest. Curved lines in the art work and lamp shades add variation to a room dominated by straight lines.


Textural variation is achieved with the smooth hard surfaces of the floor, walls and tables contrasted with the rougher texture of the floor rug and the finer softer textures of the sofa upholstery and cushions. The shinny smooth surfaces of the sculptures and lamp bases and the shiny grey cushion add shine to contrast with the dull surfaces.


The strong bold patterns of the art work, floor rug, floor cushion fabric, and wallpaper, side of the armchair and lamp pattern shapes are played against the plain walls, floor and sofa and add drama and interest.

The element of space/area also needs to be considered this can be done on a floor plan via drawings or on site. Playing around with designs on the SampleBoard website is a great way to hone your design skills. One of my design lecturers advised us to get as much practice as we could by playing around on paper. If you can make great design on a page this will help you with your space manipulation skills.

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