I am drawn to black and white rooms – they can be decorated in so many different ways! One of my favorite styles for a monochromatic room is to use retro decor for a powerful and sexy vibe. The 1967 film The Graduate inspired me to show you how great, and sensual black and white rooms look with the retro decor! Mrs. Robinson, the main character in the movie, mastered the look with moody soft lighting, a luscious tropical background, curvy glove-soft black leather furniture, white rounded back chairs, and animal print fabric accents. Read on to see my top picks for selecting retro decor for entryways, living rooms, and outdoor decor.
Black and white rooms can be layered against a tropical background that is moody, sexy, and mysterious. It’s a jungle out there behind the sliding doors with wild, powerful, and seductive animals like Mrs. Robinson. Her animal print outfit is certainly part of the movie set- it unmistakably points to her cougar’s nature. You can add tropical plants, or jungle prints, to any black and white setting to mimic this vibe.
Designer Tips for Black and White Entryways
Shapes and forms have stronger visual power in a black and white entryway. If you want to make it warmer and more welcoming, you should accent the black and white scheme with just a few, carefully selected bold pieces of furniture or decor. Capture the sensual vibe of the above scene from the movie by using soft lighting to create subtle shadows. Accomplish this by using dimmers, or chandeliers with shades.
If you want to make your entryway more dramatic, playful, or glamorous- add a strong pop of color with a rug or single piece of accent furniture. You can take the look of your entryway in many different directions. Use red for bold, glamour, or mod, animal prints for a sexy or adventurous vibe, or blue for sophistication and chic style. The below John-Richard Collection Talullah four-drawer chest would be perfect for a black and white entryway. Elegant and decorative, it draws attention while being still glamorously understated.
- Hardwood, acacia, and wood composite.
- Gold-painted trim; back is painted black.
- Mortise-and-tenon frame construction; dovetailed joints.
- Four drawers.
- 44″W x 22.5″D x 35.75″T.
Another excellent choice for a splash of visual interest for a black and white room is to use a rich, vibrant rug. The Kas Signature Round Rug, below, has a striking Signature Prism pattern. Its playful geometric shapes are in a vibrant palette of bold jewel tones, providing it with an appearance of depth.
- Hand-tufted on a loom by skilled artisans.
- The design is hand-stenciled onto a canvas.
- Ultra-soft wool
- Stain-resistant, fire-retardant and biodegradable
Designer Tips for Entertaining Areas
Whether your primary social space is in your kitchen, living room, or a combination of both thanks to an open concept design- there are many fun ways to craft a retro-inspired look for a black and white space.
There is nothing sexier or more sumptuous than the smooth dark leather of a Chesterfield sofa. This couch hugs you, invites you to stay a little longer. It’s a perfect beauty with impeccable proportions both on the elegant serpentine arms and the shapely legs. Its’ face is beautifully tufted. This Chesterfield is soft and sexy but yet Fifty Shades of Grey naughty. This couch is strong and confident enough to stand alone or can co-exist with many other types of furniture. The above couch is a Moore & Giles palette, made of full-grain leather upholstery that is soft, durable and gradually develops a natural patina. It has a high-quality hardwood frame and bowler finished legs. The cushions are high-density foam core fill wrapped in soft foam. Remember, always test natural leather cleaners and conditioners in a hidden spot before treating a leather couch to protect the color.
Next, infuse your primary entertaining space with animal prints of unexpected objects to create a fun or exotic vibe. Below are some of my top picks for great retro decor for a black and white living room or kitchen.
Animal prints in small portions always give spaces a sex appeal. However, be careful and not use too much of them. I like to use small objects rather than overwhelm the space with extensive all-printed bedding or drapes. When the whole room is covered in animal prints, it can look vulgar. Meanwhile, accent furniture and accessories are fun and playful additions. Don’t be afraid to try fluffy textures and shiny metallic objects for more glamor.
- White Cord Globe String Lights. Brighten up any black and white space with these classic string lights. The 20 removable glass bulbs are strung along a 20′ long white plastic-covered wire. Perfect indoors + safe for outdoor use in a covered area. AC plug compatible, they require a power converter when used outside of North America. UL listed.
- Precedent Wilson Ottoman. Pairing a cushy Mongolian lambswool seat atop splayed hardwood legs, this quirky ottoman embodies a modern and playful attitude. Made in the USA.
- Leopard Ice Bucket. The ice bucket in leopard print is decidedly quirky without being tacky.
- Black and Gold Vintage Vase. A retro styled, slightly rounded black vase brings in the simplicity of the Era of the Plastics of the late 60s.
- Arthur Court Bottle Opener. A set of the openers is refined and luxurious. They are ruggedly handsome and fun additions to bar service and make wonderful hostess gifts. Arthur Court began his design business in 1966. Today, his creations celebrate the beauty of nature and the durability of unusual materials. His company offers significant support to a number of conservation and wildlife causes.
Designer Tips for Black and White Living Rooms Decor
Add delightful, retro-inspired decor to a black and white living room to enhance the room with lively energy and chic style. Retro decor is often in bold, fun colors or involves delightful gold or metallic accents. Below are a few of my top picks for adding pops of color and retro style to your living room.
- End Table with Marble Top. Flawlessly handcrafted by Bernhardt, a pioneer in American furniture manufacturing.
- Black Telephone Vase. This pop art piece makes a delightful reference to the retro era with a vintage cell phone shape. Use this vase to bring exotic, lush greenery to the room. This vase is made from a colored clay and glazes. The interior is completely glazed to prevent permutation of water. Can hold up to a dozen flowers. Made in the United States Brick vase brings back classic tech design of the mid-century modern style. It is made from a colored clay and glazes. The interior is completely glazed to prevent permutation of water. Can hold up to a dozen flowers. Made in the United States.
- Crossley Radio Cruiser. A handsome turntable modeled after British Dansette models of the 1960s features a lid and handle for portability.
- Dian Austin Couture Throw. Taking inspiration from fashion’s most famous houses of haute couture, the Dian Austin Couture Home collection features luxurious bed linens and window treatments with a high level of attention to detail. Introduced in 2006, the collection features extraordinary textiles from around the world.
Designer Tips for Black and White Outdoor Spaces
Somehow, the outdoors often makes us feel freer to combine colors and textures. Perhaps because nature does not ask us if green goes with gray- everything goes together in God’s laboratory. Don’t be afraid to mix stripes and animal prints in your outdoor setting. This will create a delightfully exaggerated look that Mrs. Robinson would definitely approve of. Below are my top picks for retro decor for a black and white outdoor space to direct or inspire you.
- Leopard Print Folding Chair. It’s’ unexpected fabric application makes your patio, beach or lawn more fun. This is a perfect way to add a sexy animal print to your space in a classy way.
- California Pagoda Black and White Umbrella. Whether you’re entertaining or just lounging outdoors, catch some shade in style with this patio umbrella. Its canopy is crafted from durable Sunbrella acrylic to protect against the elements, while its frame is made of a combination of sturdy aluminum and stainless steel. An umbrella base is not included but is required for use.
- Cherry Red Retro Cooler. This cooler looks great and makes for a fun a conversation piece. It is perfect for the outdoor party season as this easily transportable cooler holds up to 18 cans or 12 bottles securely with a locking handle and lid. Use the attached bottle opener when it’s time to pop a top. It has a scratch-resistant powder coated finish and chrome detailing.
- Crossley Outdoor Retro Table. Give your outdoor patio a pop of color with this classic retro metal side table. It’s fun lacquer white color is easily cleaned and looks quite chic!
Designer Tips for Retro Lighting For a Black and White Rooms
If you remember from the movie, one of the iconic phrases was one-word- PLASTICS. Here are many fun, retro-inspired lighting options to play with that theme. These shapes, colors, and styles are all perfect for any black and white room.
Variety of Home Decor Products
- Pyra Table Lamp. This lamp harkens back to the era of neon lights while still maintaining a bright, mid-century vibe. The Metallic light edges ever-so-slightly masculine. Its intentionally oversized, towering shade filters light, creating a super-soft glow that flows up and down. Also, it’s antiqued copper base is a hot new trend!
- Plexi- Craft Francis. This retro-futuristic side table seductively snakes in thick acrylic to show off three tiers of storage or display space. Handcrafted in the USA.
- Cici Pendant. Fashioned with a clear bubbled glass shade and silver hardware, this midcentury-inspired pendant will bring an illuminating glow and retro appeal to any space. Hardwired.
- Bariano Table Lamp. This classic retro lamp makes for a stylish addition to any home. This lamp features an oversized hardback round shade and a delightful ribbed lamp base.
One More Thing
Now, this has nothing to do with black and white rooms – but it has been on my mind while writing about retro decor and the time period that inspired (or created) it. I just wanted to share The Sound of Silence experience with you. As I listened to it, I forgot that the lyrics were created in the 1960s. I think it is more relevant now than ever before. The lyrics could refer to our challenges of today, such as isolation caused by the new VIRTUAL REALITY GOD that we pray today. Am I right?
Do you like black and white rooms? Which one of the images above is your favorite?