Black & white sample board

Colour Psychology – Black & White

Colours – not all of them are made equal.

When we think of colour, we think bright, vibrant hues of blues, greens, yellows or reds and every other colour combination these create. Black and white aren’t really colours if you look at it from a scientific perspective and I did say, life isn’t black and white in the last entry on colour, but there are some upsides to these “non-colours”.

Before we get into this though, a little about why and how black and white even exist and how we see them.

Combining balanced amounts of red, green and blue light produces pure white. By varying the amount of red, green and blue light, all of the colours in the visible spectrum can be produced.1 Black on the other hand is visible when all light is absorbed by a surface, so no colours are reflected.

Now that we have clarified how these “non-colours” come to be, let’s look at how they can be used in interior design and why, for so many years white has dominated many spaces.

It’s easy to see its appeal – it’s clean, bright and crisp and works with any other colour you could possibly imagine. But, sometimes it can feel sterile, unimaginative and safe. There are, however, off-whites that will make you want to redecorate in an instant. Subtle warm or cool undertones can support a scheme wonderfully. Imagine cool white (blue tinged) walls with a blue colour scheme for upholstery, combined with warm wooden floors and furniture. It no longer feels sterile but complementary with the upholstery, and contrasting with the wooden elements of the scheme.

Black, as opposed to white is often underused but can really create an atmosphere in a room. A black kitchen, for example, is a real statement. Much like white, black can provide a canvas for other colours and as such is a great option if you like to change up the scheme from time to time. Plates, mugs and other kitchen utensils can be swapped out easily, leaving your kitchen looking transformed with just a few changes.

Black and white are also great options when it comes to showcasing plants, with biophelia (i.e. love of nature) dominating the scene, a white or black background really highlights flowers and the green in plant leaves.

On the downside, and there is one with any colour, dirt and stains show up on these two “non-colours” easily, so consideration should be given to who is living in the space. A lot of protective options, coatings, and sprays are available today to help ward off the worst, but it’s still worth bearing in mind.

If you would like to discuss black, white or any other colour as an option for your space, get in touch through our Contact page or via to book a colour or design consultation.

1 Pantone


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