Black and white living rooms are classy and timeless, and almost anything you decorate with will look effortlessly coordinated, since it already is part of a coordinated color theme. Here are some home decorating suggestions for laying out a monochromatic living room.

Painting Walls and Ceiling

To avoid the whole room feeling dark or unwelcoming, it is usually best to work with whites or grays on the walls. Here are some general wall and ceiling painting tips for black and white rooms.

  • Darker colors tend to make spaces feel smaller and cozier, light walls make rooms seem lighter and more airy. Use a lighter shade on the ceiling to get your attention directed upward.
  • If you decide to go gray on the walls instead of plain white or black, be careful of the shades you choose. Many shades of gray can look completely monochromatic in the paint store, but when added in context of other monochromatic furnishings, you might see other undertones like blue, green, or purple. If this is unwanted, be sure to get a true gray.
  • People’s attention is drawn to smaller areas of sharp contrast – so if you hate your molding, for instance, paint it the same color as your wall colors. If you want something to stand out, paint it the opposite extreme as the rest of the walls.

Choosing Furniture

Black furniture is relatively easy to find, but it can look oppressive and heavy very quickly. Balance it out by choosing pieces that are “leggy” or have open space in them to let your eye “flow through” them, such as bookshelves without backing. You can also get dark stained pieces that still allow some of the grain to show through, counteracting some of the tendency for all black furniture to lok stark and unnatural.

White furniture, on the other hand, is light – depending on your design preferences, sometimes too light. Most people immediately associate white furniture with a cottage, kitschy, or “shabby chic” look, which may not be what you’re going for. If you want a more put-together look, use very modern, simple pieces of furniture instead of intricate styles, and even consider painting the piece a pale gray instead of pure white.

If you want to change up furniture yourself, you can also use hardware like drawer pulls or visible hinges to create a contrast between the color of the furniture and the color of the wood to get a more interesting effect.

Selecting Major Decorative Elements


Black and white photography is a popular style of art. You can hang multiple pieces in a grid of individual frames for a cohesive look or hang the pictures in frames of various shapes and sizes to contrast with the inherent formality of black and white photos.

Drawings and charcoal art are also usually black or dark gray on lighter, monochromatic paper, and have a very simple, effortless look. Similarly, Asian-inspired characters and brush art is often black and white and can add a more global touch to your living room.


Black and white rugs are popular, and make a very bold and graphic statement that looks fresh and young. Try to keep other elements simple and unobtrusive if you’re going to make the rug a focal point, otherwise it will feel like the rug, furniture, and decorations are all competing for your eyes’ attention.

If this dramatic impact is not the effect you want, try a solid white, gray, or black rug, perhaps with some texture built into the weave for a tone-on-tone impact that is attractive but a much “quieter” statement.


Every space looks better with at least a few sculptural elements that are neither purely boxy nor purely spherical. These can also be functional pieces, like uniquely-shaped vases for holding flowers or an unusual chair or two, or things that range to interesting and/or pieces of three-dimensional art. Many affordable sculptural items can be found at Amazon.

Black and White Rooms Don’t Have to Be Boring!

Black and white living rooms, like any monochromatic design styles, can reflect any mood or be in any style you want.

A few final tips: the further you get away from medium grays as a palate choice, the bolder your room will be. However, every room relies on contrast to be engaging. Since you don’t have different colors to use to bring in contrast, you will need to pay even more attention to variety in shapes, sizes, textures and patterns to get a unique, beautiful living room.

Finally, if your finished room still isn’t quite what you want it to be, consider bringing in a small source of one color in two or three places in the room, like a yellow throw pillow and small vase, to make the color really “pop”.