Black and white as a combination is seen in many walks of life, from nature and food to sport and fashion branding. Whether it’s zebras, humbug sweets, Newcastle United or even the classic logos of Nike or Adidas, this colour combination is as iconic as it is prevalent.
The timeless appeal of black and white has also influenced home décor for centuries, from Tudor houses all the way up to contemporary spaces. Bathrooms are no exception of course, with black and white prints, bathroom tiles and decorative features found in countless interiors across the world.
In this guide, we will explore whether there is a right way of creating a black and white bathroom, why and how black and white work so well together, and how you can best use these colours in your home to create the most stylish effect.
Do Black and White Go Together?
Black and white are technically shades as opposed to colours (they’re actually known as ‘non-colours’). Without getting too technical, this is all to do with wavelengths of light (we know, bear with us). White is the result of all the hues of the colour spectrum combined into one, which is why splitting white light reveals all the colours you’d find in a colour wheel. Black, meanwhile, represents the total absence of light, sitting all the way across at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Basically ‘opposite’ is the key word here. Black is bold and absorbs light, while white reflects it for a fresh, bright effect. The conflicting natures of these non-colours is what makes them work so well together, with each contrasting and highlighting the appeal of the other to stunning effect.
In terms of bathroom spaces, black and white can be used as playfully as you like. That could mean creating a full black bathroom suite with white touches (or vice versa), or going for a strong mix of both. These shades can be incorporated subtly through fixtures and fittings, or boldly with eccentric patterns and geometric shapes.
What is the Meaning of Black and White and What Does It Represent?
From a historical and cultural point of view, black and white have notable connotations. For example, thinking of the iconic Chinese yin-yang symbol, white (yang) is seen as positive, while yin (black) is seen as negative (although both have many other meanings too). The two halves are illustrative of opposing cosmic forces complementing & fusing with each other.
Alongside this, white is often seen as the symbol of purity, peace, virtue, simplicity and cleanliness, making it a calming and zen addition. Black, meanwhile, is the colour of darkness, mystery, power, strength, and sophistication. Black is also dominant, and can be a formidable addition to any bathroom theme. Together, these shades transcend styles, fashion trends and time periods to create something truly lasting.
What is a Black and White Colour Scheme called? Are Black and White Monochrome?
Many people assume that black and white and monochromatic colour schemes are the same thing. While it is true that black and white is a strong example of such a scheme, they are not synonymous with each other. In fact, monochromatic refers to any scheme where any colour is used exclusively in variant tints or shades of itself.
Black, grey, and white all sit on the same spectrum as variants of the grey hue, which means they can all combine to create a monochromatic look. However, the same can be said of all other colours too. As such, using all golds in your bathroom space, including walls and floors, for example, would be considered a monochrome look.
Another term that is often used to describe a black and white colour scheme is ‘achromatic’. This basically just means ‘without colour’. However, achromatic only really applies to black and white individually, as opposed to a combination of the two.
Are Black and White Bathrooms in Style & is There A Right Way to Use Them?
The definition of what is on trend or in style is very much open to interpretation. Times move so quickly that things expected to be popular can swiftly diminish as new, unexpected trends emerge. However, for the reasons already stated, black and white is an eternal look that is very much at the forefront of bathroom design, and will remain so for as long as bathrooms exist (which is hopefully a good few years yet).
What Ways Can You Use Black and White in a Bathroom? How Can You Decorate a Black and White bathroom?
If your heart is set on that gorgeous black and white bathroom theme you’ve been dreaming up, simply read on for some black and white bathroom ideas that can be considered for any space. Pinterest and social media are also great sources of inspiration, along with home and interiors publications. However, it is worth noting that some of these details may be bespoke or personalised.
1. Plain Black or White Walls
The first and most obvious option is to completely redecorate your bathroom in either black or white, while using the opposite colour to contrast and compliment where appropriate. These contrasting touches can be achieved via fixtures and fittings, or even through little details such as towels and bathroom accessories. We’ve previously detailed a few all-black bathroom ideas here, featuring plenty of stunning examples of how this dominant colour can be used to create a powerful and stylish bathroom space that exudes luxury.
If opting for a black interior, bathroom items that come naturally in white (such as baths, basins and toilets) will act as a stylish contrast to the surrounding space. This effect can be further enhanced by white touches in tiles and flooring, as well as the addition of a white ceiling to add light and breeziness. For a luxury marble look, a black marble worktop with white veining is another fabulous addition. From a bathroom furniture point of view, you could also try a grey finish to add depth and dimension to the existing black and white.
Conversely, if opting for all-white bathroom walls and flooring, tactical dashes of black can really bring the space to life. White offers a fresh, bright look, but it can also look quite basin and bland without a bit of variety in there to spice things up. A trend for black toilets and baths experienced a wave of popularity a few years back, and these can be paired with matching, black-finished brassware. Some bathtubs are even available with a painted black finish, particularly freestanding baths.
In terms of showers, adding one with a black frame can provide a welcome interruption to the all-white surrounds. It doesn’t have to be plain either, with Crittall-style showers introducing a more partitioned look to the room without affecting the light.
2. Black or White Brassware
Matt Black brassware is hugely popular now. You can bring it into your space delicately without having to go overboard, especially if you want to keep a fresh and minimalist appearance. This includes everything from basin taps and bath taps to shower sets, including shower handsets & hoses and even overhead rainfall shower systems with exposed or concealed valves.
Alternatively, there is also matt white finished brassware that rose as a trend at similar time, which can provide a stylish modern look against a black backdrop. However, this is predicted to become a more niche trend in our 2023 bathroom, and so if looking to create a bathroom with longevity, choosing another colour may be a more frugal investment.
3. Create a Stylish Backsplash
If you don’t want to tile an entire wall, a clever little touch in your bathroom is to create a simple backsplash or backdrop. Tiles can be arranged in several decorative styles, like this parquet or herringbone example below.
Ca’ Pietra can provide tiles in several different styles and shapes, including abstract, simple brick, mosaic, or even honeycomb or small hexagons – whatever tickles the fancy.
4. Be Creative With Your Use of Tiles & Flooring
Create a Chequerboard or Mosaic Effect
Chequerboard, or a mosaic pattern is another iconic style trend that perfectly encapsulates the appeal of a black and white design scheme. It’s used widely in a number of different home settings, from entrance halls and kitchens all the way through to the bathroom. This classic style is often used for larger features such as walls or floors, but is just as effective in smaller doses such as a protective backsplash behind a bathroom sink.
From a bathroom flooring perspective, large tiles can be laid in a straight fashion if opting for a conventional chessboard style appearance. Alternatively, they can also be laid at a 45-degree angle to create a diamond-style visual effect.
Geometric tiling can mean anything from simple hexagonal tiles to sumptuous patterned tiles shaped in circles, triangles and squares. These can be decoratively designed for simple minimalism or eye-catching intricacy, such as rich Moroccan and African-style patterns.
5. Show Your Stripes
Stripes are a great way of merging black and white together and can be incorporated in various ways. This creates an interesting look that doesn’t take over the space. Although some people may pre-emptively jump to “barcodes” or other such negative associations, stripes are actually a classically chic look brimming with versatility.
Stripes can be incorporated into the areas often thought about last, such as blinds and decorative touches like bathroom mats, rugs and towels. It could even extend to bringing plants into your bathroom space in funky, stripy plant pots!
Moving back to floors and walls, investing in black and white wallpaper can be a real time-saver compared to painting the walls or investing in a tiler. Nevertheless, all are viable options for creating a stunning black and white feature wall or backdrop.
6. Don’t Forget The Finishing Touches
It‘s easy to focus on the walls, flooring and main fixtures and fittings when creating your idyllic black and white space. But there are plenty of little decorative things you can do to enhance your space.
If imagery and photography is being added to the space, why not use black and white pictures instead of colour? This may seem a little old-school, but it can really complement the space. Especially as colour may look a little odd in a black and white only space.
Alongside this, add soaps, bottles, and storage baskets in black or white, and why not even purchase some black and white toilet paper to really mix it up!
How to Warm Up a Black and White Bathroom
If the feeling of reticence is still there in terms of whether a black and white bathroom is right for you, then keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be limited to these two shades plus a little grey. Here are a few alternative colour ideas for warming up your black and white bathroom:
- Mix it up with some wood tones – wood is a great, natural material that offers a bit of rustic appeal
- Golds and Brasses - Bring in some rich, bright colours like golds and brasses to add a more luxury and indulgence to your space
- Bring in nature - Add some plants that bring vibrant colour and a touch of nature, keeping your space oxygenated for physical and mental health benefits
- Use shades over pure colours - Invest in products that offer a different shade of black or white rather than pure colours, such as carbon black or brushed black
- Get coloured handles – handles are a great way of adding colourful accents to your bathroom furniture
- Finish with decorative touches - Buy some colourful ornaments to add a slice of personality to your interior
What Colours Go With Black and White?
Black and white are so incredibly versatile that just about any colour can mix with them beautifully. If you want to brighten up your space with a colour such as yellow, blue, or red, then any of these can work fantastically well with black. Just remember if you’re using the bathroom for a long period of time each day, then it must be tolerable in the long term.
If bold and bright is a bit too outlandish, then keeping it simple with metallics is just as good:
- Chrome – the universal silver-like colour that works with any bathroom space
- Gold – a match made in heaven - gold and black!
- Brass – a more industrial and rustic gold colour, ideal for creating a more traditional space
- Copper – like brass, a more matted tint that adds a bit of 19th century Britain to your home
What Mood Does Black and White Create?
Adding any kind of hue or shade into a space can bring a range of emotions. Each colour has associated positive and negative traits that can have a psychological impact on us.
When black and white are combined, they evoke classical nostalgia to bring a sense of reassuring convention. It isn’t necessarily daring, but it is risk-free, offering brightness and sophistication.
Of course, it doesn’t have to stop there! The use of black and white patterns can be dramatic and striking or peaceful and calming. They can reflect our personalities, demonstrating playfulness, with a fun, quirky sense of adventure.
In short, black and white covers a variety of different moods and can be defined by what is incorporated into the space.
Images of Black and White Bathrooms
If you’re looking for more inspiration regarding your bathroom space or want to chat to someone about creating a black and white bathroom in your home, we can help! Just contact a member of our friendly team today, or book a 3D bathroom design service appointment for some stunning creative imagery.