Skip links

Classic Combinations: Black & White

Designed by Alfredo Paredes (

As classic as an old Hollywood movie, designing in black and white remains a timeless go-to for both traditionalists and modernists. This monochromatic scheme is layered in history, offers a multitude of tonalities and feels both crisp and inviting at the same time. The most successful designs balance out the contrasts between these two hues by using a mix of materials and finishes for the most striking effect.

Consider these ideas when creating this type of space:
  • Contrasting high gloss cabinetry with a matte white countertop.
  • Pairing modern black stainless steel appliances with simple white cabinetry.
  • Using encaustic tiles to blend with natural stone surfaces.
  • Blending onyx and carrara marbles to create high drama.
  • Adding accessories like metal task or pendant lighting for an industrial look.
  • Combining classic white—or black—subway tile with a contrasting grout color.
  • Adding brass hardware to add warmth or nickel for a contemporary feel.
  • Painting the ceiling in a high gloss lacquer black or white paint.
  • Creating checkerboard floors by painting over hardwoods or laying black and white tile.
  • Installing oversized pendants in a powder coated finish over the island to play with scale.

In Celerie Kemble’s design book, Black and White (And a Bit in Between) she used ten words to describe this combination: elegant, versatile, practical, inclusive, classic, playful, creative, orderly, calming and liberating. She called the pairing unfussy, while simultaneously eliminating the “paradox of choice” that can so often overwhelm a homeowner when it comes to major design decisions. With such a limited palette, the design becomes about textures and materials that ultimately create this irreverent  combination.

For more inspiration check out our Pinterest board full of great black and white kitchens.


Skip to content