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Homes - Get it down in black and white

Monochrome is still the most popular trend around

The world of interiors can be a little confusing sometimes, with the trends changing as rapidly as high street fashions.

That's fine if you've got the budget to indulge in every passing interior whim, but most of us really want a style that will have lasting appeal and doesn't cost a fortune.

Look no further than monochrome - a classic which looks just as good in rooms as it does in an outfit.

The black and white combo - accessorise with warm, chic touches of 'bling' gold or silver metallics to bring it bang up to date - is in the spotlight as designers celebrate its charms.

They're confidently predicting that it will be a leading look all through 2009 and beyond.

So how do you create monochrome magic? Black and white and cream are hot colours this season, however it is how you use them that's key.It's all about materials as well as colours, so go for polished steel, acrylic and plastic.

Most importantly, before you start choosing fabrics and furniture decide which style you'd like to go for so you can plan a complete look.

There's a whole choice of interpretations from modern and minimal using pure white and jet black, a more rococo style with elaborate pattern and detail, or the glamorous Art Deco feel with mirrored pieces and shiny black surfaces.

If you can't really afford a whole redesign but love the look get savvy. Use inexpensive fabrics for large expanses such as curtains or loose covers and then have a mini-splurge on some fabulous designer cushions and accessories like vases.

Follow a few simple monochrome rules to guarantee monochrome success. It's not simply a case of putting black and white together! Too much black and your decorating scheme becomes heavy and dark, so always consider the balance of colours.

Designers recommend mixing matt and shiny gloss combinations of black together to reflect the light and create surface interest.

Textured white cushions and throws make a fantastic contrast with leather furniture while a flash of metallic - silver or gold - will bring the look bang up to date.

Seeing things in black and white means they're clear and totally in focus and that could be the perfect recipe for home decor.

So banish the confusion and move to monochrome.

Splash out on monochrome

Some argue that black and white's clean, sharp simplicity is best used in bathrooms and kitchens. Marble worktops or glass splashbacks in kitchens or black marble with white tiles in bathrooms aren't just bang on-trend, they're also super practical.

The international fashion catwalks have been awash with monochrome designs for 08/09 and this strong theme is mirrored in interiors so the trend for black in bathrooms continues to grow.

The latest "must have" bathrooms come in a block colour of black which makes a real statement. A pure black bathroom which is well lit becomes moody and seductive, and accented with bold colours has a feel of urban glamour.

Black and white rules

Set the scene

The most versatile choice is white walls, or one black feature wall - in a glossy finish this is dramatic. Using very dark colours can give a luxurious appearance to a room. Rooms on a smaller scale are great areas to decorate with black and white - then get a dramatic effect with fabulous mirrors.

A black and white floor can look dramatic. Whether it's a painted wooden floor, black and white vinyl tiles or a carpet or rug maybe edged with a fabulous black border - the contrasting colours help to set the scene.

Fill the space

The strength of this look is that the simple contrast gives rooms a feeling of order and calm, so it's important that spaces aren't over-cluttered.

Select a few well-designed pieces of furniture, limit the selection of fabrics and accessories will bring the scheme to life.

Finishing touches

These are key to bring personality. Monochrome themes are elegant and timeless and will always be a designer classic. Use contrasting scales and sizes in accessories to add drama and mirrors to add illusion.

It's easy to let your imagination run wild with the abundance of accessories on offer in monochrome and the essential metallics.
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