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The Times
  • Home Style: Decorating with black and white

  • There are some things in life I will never grow tired of, like a really good chicken-salad sandwich, shopping trips with girlfriends and the classic color combination of black and white.

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  • There are some things in life I will never grow tired of, like a really good chicken-salad sandwich, shopping trips with girlfriends and the classic color combination of black and white.
    Here are ways to thread this timeless twosome into your decor.
    I'm partial to using white upholstered furnishings in designs because they give you so much flexibility when it comes to accessorizing. The upholstered furniture in my own living room is cream colored, which enables me to change the look of the room in a snap just by bringing in new accent pillows and other accessories.
    Instead of a traditional coffee table, consider a large, tufted leather ottoman. I'm partial to coffee-table ottomans because they give you so much flexibility in a room. In a pinch, they can serve as extra seating. You can put your feet up on them without feeling guilty. And they offer a great deal of surface area so you can fill them with an eye-catching display and still have plenty of room left over.
    One approach to decorating a coffee-table ottoman is to divide the space into quadrants. Be sure to reserve one of the quadrants for a killer display of doodads. You could use the second quadrant to hold a drink service and the third to house a stack of books. Leave the fourth empty so you have a place to toss the book you're reading.
    When I design living rooms, I like to include a large chest against one of the walls because these dramatic pieces help ground the room and give you a place to spotlight the books and accents that will make the room reflect your unique style.
    Think of the inside of a large chest as a stage on which to tell your story. Fill it with the treasures you love, like snapshots from your vacation, sleek pottery, books, artwork and faux ferns.
    Black and white also can be glamorous. Mix in a bit of gold, silver or bronze for a stunning result.
    All it takes to switch a black-and-white color combo from dark and moody to playful and fun is inserting a pop of color. That's what my friend Ann did in her home. One year she went to market with me and saw a display room done entirely in black and white, and she fell head over heels in love. She went home and painted every room in her home white, then, step by step, began to fill each room with black and white furnishings and accents. She never grew tired of her monochromatic color palette because she tricked it up periodically with a pop of bright color, like apple green or Tiffany blue.
    If you'd like to experiment with decorating with black and white, but don't want to commit a whole room to this palette, a great place to start is with a bedding ensemble.
    Page 2 of 2 - Get lots of mileage out of a custom bed treatment by mixing pillows covered in classic fabrics with a few pillows that showcase today's hottest styles. The bedding will look fresh and new, yet sophisticated and timeless.
    If you were to grow tired of the trendier colors, you could easily recover the pillows and get an entirely different look.
    This column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.
     
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