Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Key to Successful Monochrome Interiors

Yorkshire Post - 7th October 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Throughout the last century there have been distinct periods when monochrome interiors have been very in vogue.

From the cutting-edge innovations of the 1920s and '30s, through the Woolworth Homemaker revolution in the late 1950s, to the hard lines of "me" generation excess in the 1980s, it's a trend that just keeps coming back. Monochrome might whisper of colour austerity, but it shouts cool, clear success.

This season sees the addition of monochrome designs from a number of fabric houses hinting we are about to enter a new age of pared-down design, offering more simple magnificence. If executed correctly, monochrome interiors offer the householder a chance for simple and subtle sophistication.

Current designs are a lifetime away from the brash 1980s, having a much softer feel to them – evoking the understated optimism of the 1950s.To achieve a successful monochrome interior apply the old adage "less is more". Keep window treatments very simple – use drapes or blinds in clean lines to frame your view of the colourful exterior world. Use plain pelmets to hide tracks or eyelet curtains to provide a straight drop for your drapes that will show off any fabric design at its best.

Monochrome is defined as a picture or painting executed in different shades of a single colour. If working with a black palate, incorporate various shades of grey to enhance the design. Plan your scheme with plenty of space to avoid any feeling of overcrowding – the look you should aim to achieve is light and airy.
The Multimedia range of printed cottons from Prestigious Textiles (; 01274 688448) sets the pace for some of today's designs. It includes a stylised floral, a grand-scale specimen peony and retro-negatives of urban architecture, echoed in a broad stripe and check. They have stuck to simple colour stories, led by the monochrome Granite. Fabrics range from around £9.60 per metre.

Black and white is one of the most recognised and easily executable forms of monochrome. Avoid an overblown scheme with a "visual treat" in your room by adding a feature piece in a strong, bright colour: a vase, cushion or a colour picture on the wall. Ensure this is a definite statement, not a timid hint; pink and turquoise are particularly effective when used in this fashion.Designers Guild show the impact of an additional colour to great effect in the images of their new Darly range which includes Padgett prints (£49/m) and wallpaper (£42/roll) featuring bold geometric designs with a neoclassical architectural inspired motif (; 020 7351 5775).

Black and white pictures look terrific in this environment (with the introduction of a single colour always adding impact – consider the sunflower in the original WI nude calendar): present with plenty of space around them on a bare white wall for maximum impact.Add interest to your scheme by introducing a variety of textures and finishes in both your furniture and soft furnishings.The Manzi collection from the Liberty Furnishing range by Osborne & Little includes classic wide black and white stripes or dog-tooth inspired checks in a pure cotton satin finish a luxurious feel with the advantage of a stain-resistant Teflon finish from around £45/m (; 020 7352 1456).Keep floors bare or covered in a plain colour, avoid patterns, but introduce texture with the addition of a single colour rug.
Remember you do not have to stick to black; brown also works well particularly if you are going for subtle chic (consider Persian Tulip wallpaper from Zoffany at £85 per roll –; 0844 543 4748), whilst red hints at night-time glamour; ideal for a bedroom or spectacular dining room.
Jamie Hempsall is one of the region's leading interior designers, see more of his designs at or contact him on 01777 248463.

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