Bright, clear, colorful photographs play a huge role in the way we consume home decor inspiration – blogs, magazines, Pinterest, Instagram. Beautiful images are vital in this era of visual media. I’ve worked hard to improve my own photography to meet that expectation.
So imagine with me for a moment, your Pinterest feed or your Instagram app suddenly drained of color, instantly transformed to black and white with shades of gray.
It’s such a weird thought, right?
Black and white photography, while lovely in its own right, is typically separated from the world of interiors – aside from decorative purposes like family photos printed on canvas.
So I am okay with admitting that the thought of gaining inspiration from interiors shot in black and white is something that never crossed my mind until recently.
Today’s story (as with most good stories) starts with a rummage session in my grandparents’ basement when I was there for a visit a few weeks ago…
A Study in Black and White Interior Photography
Yes, that is THE George Nelson, iconic Mid Century designer and one of the founders of American Modernism. (Coincidentally, also a Connecticut resident like my grandparents.)
“Living Spaces” (*affiliate link, in case you’d like to nab your own copy) is a design book full of interior inspiration from some incredibly famous modernist designers. And, every image is shot in black and white.
As I flipped through the pages and devoured the inspiration, I began to zone in on the photography. If you aren’t at work to capture colors, what changes in the way you photograph a room?
The color scheme for the room above is explained in the accompanying paragraph of text, but even without color reference, it’s definitely a striking space.
Shadows seem to play a much bigger role, whereas interior photography these days tends to err on the side of overexposure.
Without color, lines, textures, and high contrast all become very important.
There’s room for pattern as well, although it’s interesting to be forced to consider the pattern itself, not just its color combinations, in the rooms below.
(Even without color, I’m certain that I adore that rug!)
No cheating – what colors do you think the stripes are in the sofa and chairs above? I was surprised to read the description and find out that they are red and white and blue and white striped. Would you ever have guessed?
I had to include the room above when I spotted the fiddle leaf fig – a time-honored and sculptural choice!
Finally, this room is my favorite. Without a hint of color, I know that I would be perfectly happy in this gorgeous design! The incredible rug provides a textural backdrop. I adore the lines of this room, and that wall of windows makes my heart sing.
So as I was perusing this book and musing on the photography, I began to wonder what my own home would look like in black and white. I’m such a color lover and splash it around with reckless abandon, without necessarily considering the lines, textures and contrast so important in the black and white photography of Living Spaces…
Purely as an experiment, I began to pull up my favorite photos of our home and convert them to black and white (adding some extra “noise” for authenticity’s sake, of course.)
Some rooms held up very well to the black and white treatment, while some suffered from lack of contrast, in my opinion.
Overall, it was a very interesting experiment that forced me to look at these familiar spaces in a completely different way!
For your viewing pleasure/amusement, I present…
A Black and White Home Tour
I’m really curious to hear your responses! How would black and white photography change the way you view your home?
It’s inspired me to give greater attention to form, not just colors, and perhaps to consider the value of moody shadows every now and again!
Also, I now fully understand my deep need for a wall of windows overlooking a luscious jungle of a back yard…