Sunday, 21 June 2015

bedtime reading - The Monochrome Home

Just in case you thought I'd lost my monochrome mind with that last post a few weeks ago, let me redress the balance by talking about the most exquisite book by Hilary Robertson which celebrates the joy and art of living without colour. 

Robertson describes the monochrome home as being like a capsule wardrobe:

"...restful timeless and practical. By restricting the colour palette, and number of eclectic elements can exist happily together..." 

She begins by exploring the monochrome palette of black, white, grey and every nuanced shade of each. Each palette is illustrated with gorgeously styled shots of a console table and tabletop vignettes that will have you wanted to run to your nearest paint supplier.

The majority of the book is made up of case studies of thirteen stunning homes, all using different approaches to monochrome schemes. So while the book makes for a cohesive look, there's something for everyone here, from quite stark and minimal, to rustic and full of treasured possessions.

Throughout the book, Robertson gives helpful tips on how to make a monochrome scheme interesting, highlighting the need for contrast and texture She rightly urges you to use black accessories against white walls and vice versa as well as textural textural elements like wood and metal.

This bedroom shot of Norm architect Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen's home is a case in point. Crisp white walls contrast with grey, textural soft furnishings and warm woods. It's incredibly simple yet there is plenty of interest to stop the scheme becoming boring.

This bedroom looks so clean and calm and would actually be easy to replicate in a rented home with white walls. Ikea has a few similar items, Regolit paper shade, Malm or Tyssedal chests of drawers Tjena black boxes, Undredal bed frame, Hampen Rug, Godmorgen mirror and Fejka plant and replace the ceiling hung clothes hanger with a floor standing one like The Turbo, again from Ikea.

This is just one of my favourite kitchens of all time (yes, I have a mental top 10!) The dark wood cabinetry and the use of marble is another great way to add interest to the predominately grey palette and that distressed table leg is just enough to stop everything looking just too perfect. French minimal architect Joseph Dirands Parisien apartment is high end luxe and is one of those places that's great for drooling over but probably not the kind of place many of us will end up living in.

Marie Worsaae's house is a great example of something that's more achievable though. Full of homely touches, simple arrangements and squishy soft furnishings, while some rooms are full of things, others like this bedroom are refreshingly pared back.

Ingeborg Wolf's Copenhagen apartment offers some great inspiration for styling. You could style freestanding shelves in the same way. Note again that the addition of a some wood and metal pieces stops the look from becoming too clinical by adding texture.

Roberson believes there are two main tribes of monochomists, those who like  pure bright whites as a background, the type favoured by Scandinavians and those who like dark and dramatic inky hues as a base. Some like Ingeborg Wolf mix both (her bedroom is pictured above).

While bright and white is clearly easier for renters. Most of us are faced with four blank walls of white, off white or some warmer variation. If you're lucky and painting is an option though, consider going for something like Farrow & Ball's Downpipe, or the even darker Railings and contrasting it with crisp white sheets, black and white photos and a few choice objet.

I love that although the images are clearly the star of the show in this book, there's enough text to make it a good read before it graces your coffee table and even if monochome isn't your thing, this book is essential for any interior design library.

Monochrome Home by Hilary Robertson, photography by Pia Ulin, published by Ryland Peters & Small, £25 available from the RPS website here.

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