Painting a pretty color scheme

Black, white and red bring dash of glamour together with a fresh and clean contemporary design


What's black and white with touches of red all over?

First, it was your wardrobe. Next, it could be your living room, dining room or foyer.

The look is so hot that Jade Jagger's home in London, featured in the April issue of House & Garden, has a red carpet, white slip-covered furniture and red and black pillows. Jagger, daughter of Mick and Bianca, calls it "my favorite color combination."

The ingredients for the sophisticated trio of colors are popping up everywhere:

Stein Mart, a hybrid department store/discount retailer known for spotting home design trends, recently featured black and white with a splash of lipstick red in its advertising.

Furniture manufacturers, no longer content with playing it safe, are spinning the color wheel to red for a major statement in upholstery.

More black wood furniture, often painted rubberwood from China, is showing up in everything from bar stools to bookcases.

Schonbek's new collection of lamps and chandeliers, introduced in January at the Dallas lighting market, introduced the drama of black crystal.

"Start with a white room and black furniture," says Miami interior designer Michael Saruski. "Use red in accessories, artwork or area rugs so that you can easily change them to another room or get rid of it altogether. I don't think it's wrong to have an accent chair in a corner or a red throw, but I would never have a red sofa."

Kassie Jones, vice president and general merchandise manager for home at Stein Mart, agrees that red should be kept minimal in accents.

"Customers have responded quite well to the accent of red," she says, noting the color combination will continue to be promoted through June. "It appeals to any age. One of the merchants here in Jacksonville [Fla.] has a grandmother in Fort Lauderdale [Fla.] who bought four or five items."

Joe Ruggiero, who became a design icon in the 11 years he appeared on HGTV, used red and black in his "Paris" Spring 2006 fabric collection for Norwalk Furniture. His inspiration? Fashion. More than half of the buyers and press were wearing the color combination when they visited Norwalk's High Point, N.C., showroom.

"I really feel that red consistently pops up on the charts as a top seller," he says. "If you look at a color trend chart, the colors come up and down like a wave. Red is like calm water. It is consistently in the mix and the best complement for red is black."

Although neutrals are still the most popular paint colors, when color shows up it's red, according to Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for Glidden. And Drum Beat red is the first color that pops up in every region.

"Red offers the opportunity to look good in so many places - entry, living room, dining room," she says. "You can't say that about any other color.

"From a psychological standpoint, we respond to red on an emotional level. It's part of our DNA. It's comforting, nurturing and can be a high drama color. It looks great with wood and makes us look great when reflected off our skin tones."

Doty Horn, director of color for Benjamin Moore, says the color story starts with the emergence of black, a paint color currently featured in the Color Origins section on The trend first showed up in European trade shows five years ago and in Paris and Germany the last two years, she says, and has just started to get popular here.

"Black is a key direction as we go forward," she says. "It's very mysterious, yet very elegant. To have an edge, you want to soften it with a color combination."

Although trend watchers say the natural partner for black is red, they say it also works with yellow, green, pink or purple.

"For 2006, black and white are a statement," Horn says. "Later they will be an influence for other colors."

One of the most novel ways to add a black accent is with a chandelier that features black crystals. The collection includes everything from beaded crystal chandeliers to Art Deco lamps.

"This is the first time black crystal has been used in a chandelier," says Eileen Schonbek Beer of Schonbek Worldwide Lighting. "It is the antithesis of what you expect in a chandelier. Normally crystal refracts light prismatically, but this has no prismatic brilliance. It creates a very dramatic look like a shadow or a negative space."

The trend experts say the appeal of the black/white/red color scheme is a desire for glamour combined with fresh, clean contemporary design.

Daryle Gibbs, director of trend and product development for Pier 1 Imports, agrees but says the color scheme also goes well with the Global Trend of African, Chinese and Japanese accents.

"It's a classic, but it's also primitive," he says. "It's a very graphic combination that demands attention. People are wanting their homes to make more of a statement. There is nothing more bold or graphic than the red, black and white combination."

The experts predict the influence of this trio won't go away anytime soon.

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