Thursday, July 10, 2008

Design Dilemma: What's Black and White and Blue All Over?

More Ways to Waste Time reader Jacqui writes, "When my husband and I bought our first house last fall, we painted nearly every room before moving in -- we figured that was easier than having to 'move out' of rooms later in order to paint. But painting before establishing a design plan has left me unsure about how to really finish our bedroom.

We love the wall color and the contrast with the black and white bedding and furniture. But I'm stuck on finding a rug, curtains, and something to go in that weird little corner next to the bathroom door. Do I stick with black and white for the textiles, or is that overkill? Do I find an accent color or are the three colors enough already?

Finally, please settle a long-running debate in our house: What do you think of the enormous IKEA artwork over the bed? Any other suggestions you have are most appreciated!"

I know you really like it, Jacqui -- but to be honest, all that dark blue and black together looks a bit dreary and dated to me. You can cheer up the scheme a lot -- but still retain the high-contrast black, white, and blue look you prefer -- simply by replacing some of the black elements with white ones.

Photo from House to Home

See how all the white and other light-toned pieces in the pictures above and below pop against the inky blues and make the wall colors even more dramatic? To follow suit in your room, you could keep the patterned blanket at the foot of the bed, for instance, but switch out that black duvet cover and sheet set for snowy white ones.

Photos via Rearranged Design and HGTV

Add a white drum shade on the bedside lamp and clean white curtain panels to the window to cover the bland mini-blinds and inject even more brightness into the space. (IKEA sells great white linen curtains for next to nothing.) And though you might not want to go this far, I'd consider painting the metal bed frame and the leaning bookshelf next to the bed white as well.

Photo from Domino

Speaking of the bookshelf, I'd move it to the wall to the right of the door, lose the small metal table that's there now, and look for a substantial bedside table or small dresser to balance the one you have on the other side of the bed. I do like the black on that piece -- it looks dramatic and sophisticated. And with a mostly blue-and-white color scheme, a few black pieces will help ground the space -- as the black bedside table does in the otherwise light and airy room above.

Top photo via Nibs

A white or light-colored rug will make the room feel extra dreamy, while a faux zebra hide (you can find them pretty inexpensively on eBay) or other black-and-white-patterned rug, like these two options from IKEA, will inject some fun pattern in a way that's not overwhelming.

Photos from Domino (top), HGTV (middle), and Apartment Therapy (bottom)

Once you've scaled back the black, you could add in one or two colorful accents. As shown here, yellow or orange both compliment blue beautifully, and add energy and zing to these spaces.

Photos from House to Home

Red, as shown at top, is another classic compliment to blue -- just use it sparingly. Apple green would make a deliciously crisp foil to the particular shade of blue you've chosen for your walls. And even a rich lavender, as shown in the bottom photo, can work with blue.

Photo from the Sex and the City movie (please don't bitch-slap me!)

As for the picture currently above your bed, well -- it does sort of scream "generic IKEA artwork." Even when your budget is small, I think it's important to find art that's more unique and personal -- especially in a spot you look at every day. Blow up one of your own photographs and hang it above the bed; stretch a piece of fabric that you love over a canvas; visit Etsy and other sites to stock up on inexpensive prints from artists whose work you admire, and then hang a bunch of them in a grouping similar to the one shown above; or display found objects -- a vintage sign, an assemblage of pressed leaves, even a gnarled piece of driftwood you found on your last trip to the beach -- in place of the boring IKEA print.

Readers, what's your take on Jacqui's blue-and-black bedroom? What would you keep, what would you lose, and what would you change? Please chime in with your advice for her!

(P.S. Have a design dilemma of your own? Send it in, along with a photo or two, and I'll put it up here for a communal brainstorming session.)


Carrie said...

I like the blue you have, Jacqui, and I like the black and white with it. But one thing this room seems to be missing is anything organic. Most of the shapes in the room are squares and straight lines, and what gives the bedrooms Leah pictured some life and interest is the mix of shapes. The branches in the vase, the squiggles on the sunburst mirror, the fresh flowers on the coffee table -- these things make the space feel fresh and lived-in. It wouldn't be hard to grab a beautiful vase and throw in some beautiful branches, or to pot a hard-to-kill plant in a gorgeous planter, and I think it would be a good step in making your bedroom look new again.

Michelle said...

I think all of your suggestions were fabulous. I'd ditch the generic Ikea print as well. You can add some nudes or other sensual art as well to bring some romance in. I love the idea of a collage. White bedding would do wonders in the space and lighten it tremendously. My initial thought was to tell her to add pops of red throughout, but after seeing the plum against the blue that is what I'd do.

Tiffany S. said...

Fabulous suggestions with GREAT supporting photos. Wish I could think up a good design question now just to see another terrific response!

Stampin' Cindy said...

I agree with the suggestions. Love the blue and the patterned blanket, but they aren't popping as much as they could. New, lighter bedding, more substantial light fixture and window treatments would add so much to this room!!

Suzanne said...

Leah, all of your suggestions are fabulous! How long did it take you to find all those perfect supporting pictures?! That lavender and blue bedroom is making me salivate. I almost squealed when I read that you also thought that painting the metal bed frame white would be a good idea. To be validated on the internet, is there anything as priceless? ;) It's my first visit to your blog and I've a feeling I'll be wasting "a little bit" more time here.
Jacqui, you have a great room - beautiful floor, great pieces and your blue walls are very distinctive.

Jacqui said...

Hey everyone, thank you so very much for all your suggestions! For the first time I really feel like we have a direction (not to mention some seriously inspring rooms!) for this project.

Oh, and for the record, the IKEA art is DEFINITELY not my doing! :)

IRENE said...

So generous of you! You are a treasure.

Modern Craft said...

Leah-- You are a gold mine of wonderful suggestions-- your collection of suggestions is amazing. What a resource!!

virginia said...

wow, all those inspirational photographs...i have only practical advice to offer: if you opt to paint the bed, you will probably have to find someone who does powder-coating because that is most likely the original finish...definition below.
also, a great resource for images:

casacaudill said...

We have the same bed and the saturated blue walls, so I know first-hand how hard it can be to make the room feel warm and inviting. We added in white cotton curtains with a linen look on all of our windows behind the bed, black iron sconces with white shades, white and very light blue bedding with some other colors (reds, pinks, greens) and white dressers. We had black dressers and it was just TOO MUCH. The white dressers make it so much lighter and fresher. We also added in some mirrors to bounce the light around the room, some plant life and some very colorful photographs and I love the room so much more now.

lokis_mistress said...

Definitely I love the ideas already posted and I give kudos to finding so many gorgeous photos to share. WOW!

I am going to second the painting the bed out and the curtains for sure, as well as changing out the duvet for a white one and maybe I would put in a white bolster that runs the length of both pillows with a print right in the center. Easier to find with a black design, but if you can swing a lighter version of blue that is on the walls, even better. If you can't find one readily, try putting up a note on Etsy's Alchemy page. You just put up a description of what you need and people bid to do it for you and you usually get a sweet deal! It is a brilliant way to "shop"!

I would add substantial white lamps and something mirrored as well to bounce light around. I have never seen one, but a mirrored hope chest for the foot of the bed would be brilliant.

The post regarding anything with an organic feel is bang on. What I think would be more fun than a print on the wall would be to find a gorgeous piece of driftwood that is fairly large and has lots of shape. Then paint it out in a glossy white and attach it to the wall horizontally over the bed. You can even use it as a sort of shelf as long as you are careful what you put up and how you put it there. Adding little hits of a secondary color will bring the space to life. I have done this is a living room over a sofa and it is like sculpture for you wall that is fairly cheap and looks amazing. We actually placed books at one end and attached a simple vase at the other. It was gorgeous. It definitely won't be generic!

I hope you post after photos!

Sara Chase said...

I just have to say this this post is awesome. I read a lot of design blogs and this is the first time I've seen a blogger help out a reader in this way and I thought it was really thoughtful and interesting. The pictures and suggestions were great.


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