Splurge & steal: the black & white bedroom

Written by erinn valencich
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Splurge & steal: the black & white bedroom
The centrepiece of the room is the bed, which was a custom design. Creating your own furniture design is sometimes necessary to create the right look for your room. You can splurge on an essential piece and then look to accessorise with inexpensive items to help stay within your budget. (Erinn Valencich)

Juxtaposition is always a great design tool. Learn it and use it well!

Designing a black and white room may seem intimidating to the novice designer, but it's actually a lot easier than you think. Your choices are narrowed down quickly, and the design solution is all about layering light and dark. But, when it comes right down to it, your black and white design choice is one of the most diverse home decor options you'll find out there. It can be trendy or classic. Exotic or understated. Sleek or textured. The multiple ways a black and white design can be applied to a room are limited only by your personality -- how daring or low-key you're willing to be when choosing accents and accessories.

Project Background

I designed the black and white bedroom in the photo for a fireball of a woman who is not only a young, beautiful, successful attorney, but also happens to be a good friend of mine. After purchasing her first home in the Hollywood Hills, she wanted my help to create a very chic, "grown up," "boudoir" feeling master suite. I set out to create a modern bedroom for her that would have a touch of elegant glamour. Given the location of her new abode, it seemed only fitting that we should bring in a signature Old Hollywood element to complete the look.

When I start any decorating project, finding inspiration is key. And since taking an aesthetic one can visualise in your imagination -- or maybe not at all, at this early stage --- and turning it into reality is hard for most people, the best way to start is to look at images until you have a collection of ideas that exemplify the look you're after. Don't be afraid to look at tons and tons of images! Check out design magazines, catalogues and websites, and clip and screenshot photos, until you've got a batch of images that clarify the ideas you want to incorporate into your design. During our search for a bedroom fit for a starlet, we came across a room in a Ralph Lauren Home advertisement that was citrus and black and white. My client immediately fell in love with the idea. And right then we had our inspiration!

How We Did It: Furniture

Splurge & steal: the black & white bedroom
This chair was a Goodwill find that I had reupholstered. When looking for a thrift store steal, keep in mind the most important aspect is the frame of the object in question. The shape of this chair was exactly what I wanted and because I saved on the initial purchase, I was able to splurge on a luxurious material for the finish. (Erinn Valencich)

The centrepiece of any bedroom is nearly always the bed and this is where I started. My client's room wasn't that large, so I didn't want a "heavy" bed: When doing a design for a room, it's important to keep the size of your space in mind at all times, as you don't want to overwhelm it with pieces that are too big. I designed this custom made modern four-poster bed to be very sleek and lean. You can splurge by having a custom piece of furniture made, as this is sometimes the most important element to getting the right look. And you may be surprised when you comparison shop in furniture stores: In some instances, you can have something custom made for less than you would pay in a designer showroom. When getting a piece of furniture made from scratch to your own design -- or copying a magazine photo --- it pays to shop around to find a craftsman willing to meet your budget. Also, make sure you're crystal clear about the measurements and look of the piece you want made -- and be prepared to talk it over in detail with the carpenter or craftsman you're trusting to make it -- because if there's any misunderstanding at all between you about the piece, you could be looking at a very expensive mistake.

If getting a custom made bed isn't for you, remember that choosing a modern bed over a very ornate one is an excellent way to save money. You can find a lot of great ready-made modern pieces at places like Room & Board, West Elm and CB2. Once you're happy with the basic style, you can add antique pieces like ornate mirrors, a tapestry piece, or a smaller dressing table or ornate side chair and still get the same mix of styles to create the impression of a higher end room.

How We Did It: Accents

Splurge & steal: the black & white bedroom
Save money by taking an older piece of furniture and giving it a fresh coat of paint. In this case, the dresser was painted black and given new handles to update it. White automotive tape was added to outline the drawers, creating a more dramatic effect. An inexpensive mirror was added to create a larger sense of space and balance. (Erinn Valencich)

For the citrus accent wall you see behind the bed (accent colours should always go behind the bed), I mixed multiple paints on location to get just the colour I wanted. Who says you have to stick to only what they sell? Tap into your creativity. I started with about 3 shades of green Dunn-Edwards paint that were close to what I had in mind and then mixed until I got the desired result. Don't get caught up in paint names, instead focus on the actual colours, tones and shading. This is where experimentation comes into the equation. Choose paint colours that are close to what you have in mind and play around with them until you're happy with the final colour. In this case, I now wish I had the formula! Since posting the photos of the finished project online, I get e-mails almost daily about this colour.

Given I was using such a bold colour, I only painted it on two walls: The main focal wall behind the bed for accent, and the wall with the windows on it. I chose that second wall for two reasons: It's the wall you first see when you enter the room, and it was the wall with the least amount of "wall" to be painted...meaning, the windows take up most of it, so the green is not overpowering. I left the two remaining walls in neutral beige, so as not to compete with the bolder citrus walls. When it comes to working a bold accent colour such as this green into a room, you don't need to feature it in too many other places to make it work. I was able to save a little by accenting the green on the wall with only two green silk pillows in the same shade on the bed, and one green vase on the dressing table. That's all it took to make the room come together! Always think of using 2-3 accent pieces in your pop colour and spread them around the room.

To bring the black and white theme onto the windows, I bought £5/yard silk and had the curtains sewn with a black border. Nearly any good seamstress can make custom drapery; there are often many workrooms in your city that can do the same for a very reasonable cost. Again, do your research. Custom doesn't always have to be expensive! For additional savings, you can also take ready-made white silk or cotton panels and add the black band to them. I chose silk to give the room some added glitz and glamour.

Bedding is a key element in a bedroom. The bed is your focal point after all and having a gorgeous duvet and elegant well-appointed shams, with just the right toss-pillows, really makes a difference. With this in mind, consider splurging on the right duvet. Great bedding will last years and years, and there is nothing more luxurious than slipping into some gorgeous high-thread count sheets at the end of a long day. The duvet in this room came from Williams-Sonoma Home. Not terribly pricey, but definitely not on the bargain rack. To achieve the "hotel" look of a white duvet with black accents, I found the contrasting shams and paired them with the original duvet. I saved on the toss pillows by picking those up at Home Goods --- one of my favourite shops for discount pillows and accessories.

You can save by going second-hand. This wingback chair was a £39 find at the Goodwill! They often have great old chairs like this one sitting around. Of course I had to have it reupholstered, but the frame is what you're looking for here. Look past the finish and you'll often be surprised about the beauty in a piece of furniture. If you get something on the cheap, like the chair, you can then afford to spend a little more on other details. I splurged on a great vintage black fabric with white striping for the new upholstery to create the effect of men's wear suiting with this piece of furniture. The overall style of the room needed a tailored, modern elegance, and this fabric was just the right contrast for the curvy, womanly lines on the chair. Juxtaposition is always a great design tool. Learn it and use it well!

The dressing table in this bedroom was another piece of salvaged furniture in need of a modern makeover. Pretty simple to do. I outlined the drawers and frame with white automotive-tape, which instantly gave the dressing table a tailored black and white appeal. Using a tape outline like this is a great way to update any old piece of furniture! A new coat of black or white paint will make any piece feel like new. I completed the makeover by adding Lucite handles to give it a little Hollywood sparkle.

I found a white leather upholstered modern stool to give some contrast with my new black and white vanity. The detail on the stool also provided some contrast: The oversized nail heads give it a hip feel and it fit right in on top of the black and white rug. This rug is another example of a key place to splurge. The bedroom had a fitted beige carpet and, while I felt it was boring, we didn't want to change it. So bringing in this small black and white rug to cover the carpet at the bottom of the bed, anchored all the colours and played up the new black, white and green palette we were using for the room perfectly.

I found the large mirror for over the vanity at Home Goods. This was another save for our budget as you'll always find bargains at Home Goods. Mirrors are a great way to open up a room and bring in light and sparkle when placed opposite a window --- or opposite any feature you want to replicate in the room! For instance, I placed this one opposite the green wall, so it tricks the eye and brings in green on the other side of the room.

I rounded out the overall look with some inexpensive black and white photography -- in black frames with white borders of course -- and some black and white accent pieces like the tiled box on the bedside table.

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