Black & white decor is a timeless classic

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Using black and white in a design scheme is a timeless and classic option. Right now the all-white kitchen is most popular among homeowners. Some combinations include kitchen cabinets paired with a black and white checkerboard tile floor, a black painted floor or a black island to contrast with white counters. Black granite on white counters is also a favorite choice and always looks fresh.

Sarasota-based interior designer Bonnie Lancaster owns her own firm and has 30 years experience in devising black and white combinations that are chic, fun, sophisticated, traditional or modern. She is sometimes referred to as the queen of black and white, and her home in an established neighborhood of Sarasota is a showcase of what can be done with just two colors (which are not technically colors at all), black and white.

Bonnie’s dining room is a lanai that she enclosed with glass. It looks out into a garden lush with foliage and colorful flowers, and when you sit down to dinner you have the feeling of al fresco dining without the heat and humidity. Bonnie is a frequent visitor to the flea markets of Paris and generally comes home with vintage silverware for her table, but she also hunts for odd and unusual black and white plates and chargers. She likes to set her table with mismatched china, silver and glasses. What unites everything and brings harmony to the scheme? Black and white. She mixes square plates with round, modern with traditional -- it doesn’t matter as long as everything is either black, white or a pattern that combines both.

Then Bonnie injects an accent color, her favorite lately is green. She’ll use the accent color in a centerpiece, for napkins, or table accessories such as napkin rings. Whatever accent color you choose, do select one that brings an extra dimension of interest to the table. And do different shades of the accent color. On Bonnie’s table with green accents you might see something lime green, another object in a velvety forest green, and something else that’s soft sage. There are endless variations on a black and white table and it’s something you could have a lot of fun creating. No time like the present.

Bonnie Lancaster’s tips for black and white design schemes:

• Every room can use a touch of black. It elevates a space with sophistication. You might want a pair of black pillows, a black lampshade, a black buffet or black and white photos framed in black. And there’s nothing like a black baby grand piano to do the trick.

• Bonnie’s go-to shades of white paint are: Benjamin Moore 2121-70 Chantilly Lace; Benjamin Moore 2126-70 Chalk White; Benjamin Moore PM-2 White.

• You can use more than one shade white in a room and, in fact, you should.

• Generally a glossy finish of white or black reads more modern and a flat finish convey a style that is traditional or rustic.

• The easiest and most economical way to unify a set of mismatched chairs or small tables is to paint all of them white or black.

Bonnie Lancaster, Lancaster Interior Design, 650 Central Avenue, Sarasota.

Marsha Fottler regularly contributes to local, regional and national publications with articles on residential, commercial and restaurant design as well as food.