Sep 21, 2023 | Carpet One Floor & Home
Written by DIANA ROSE | Design by DIANA ROSE | Photography by MIKE CHAJECKI
A monochromatic decorating scheme can be a bit of an enigma. Employing a one-color palette somehow makes a space look larger without renovating, more organized without tidying, more luxurious without spending an extra dime, and totally timeless in a world of ever-evolving decorating trends.
It’s truly amazing what a little color can do—or, in the case of monochromatic rooms, very little color.
Contrary to popular opinion, narrowing down your color choices to the same color family and then using it effectively can be a complicated matter, with the risk of creating a one-dimensional, boring, and lifeless-looking space that feels flat. There are some important principles to understand in order to master a monochromatic space. Here’s what you need to know.
What draws people to monochromatic color palettes? Indeed, there’s nothing quite like a monochromatic interior, but the reasons behind the wide appeal of this look can be subtle and sometimes hard to rationalize. Aside from the advantages, the uniformity and simplicity of a monochromatic color is soothing to the soul, especially when the color in question is neutral —as is often the case in a monochromatic room.
A monochromatic home has harmony among elements and between different rooms, whether it be the bedroom, dining room, or living room, resulting in a seamless flow that invites you inside. When it’s done well and with the right surrounding elements, this decorating scheme achieves an eye-catching cocooning effect that many of my clients strive for as the chief goal of their redesign efforts.
As part of a home’s broader aesthetic, color is perhaps the most basic element, so choosing a color palette is the logical place to start the decorating process. You may be wondering, “What do you mean by ‘color’ in a monochromatic room?” And that’s where many are mistaken.
When planning a monochromatic space, it’s important to understand both what monochromatic is and what it isn’t. It’s not a single color in a single hue, splashed as far as the eye can see. Rather, this look is all about using one color in its various forms, layers, and patterns to create dimension, much like you would see in a traditional, multi-color scheme.
In any space, particularly in a monochromatic environment, color’s effect is all-encompassing, amplifying its influence on your surroundings. Research shows that colors evoke emotion, affect mood, and even manifest in our bodies through increased appetite or changes in energy level. When choosing a single color, its impact should be a key consideration.
While neutrals are a common choice in monochromatic design, they’re not the only option. One can create a cozy or dramatic effect with a dark color or a vibrant vibe with a brighter color. Even so, neutral colors come in a wide range of tints, shades, and tones. Color decisions can be especially impactful when they change the feel of an entire room.
Whatever your color choice, make sure it’s one you love, because once you decide to go monochromatic, there’s no going back. The effectiveness of this aesthetic depends on your commitment to the color. So, if you’re going to do it, be prepared to go all in.
We’ve already talked about commitment to your color, which you’ll use everywhere from walls and floors to furniture, upholstery, and window treatments. It’s important to use your color in its various iterations —with emphasis on the various. When you’re limited to a single color, be mindful that you must implement visual interest in other ways.
In a monochromatic space, variety can come in the form of lighter and darker shades of a single hue. It also comes in a range of different textures and finishes, from matte or glossy to smooth or rough. By using different materials and bringing some patterns into play, you can mix and match for visual appeal.
Juxtaposing these opposing elements creates contrast and greater visual interest. These contrasts naturally enhance each material’s unique characteristics and cause them to stand out more than they would on their own.
Like the principle of contrasting textures, your palette needs something to make it “pop.” Black, white, and metallics aren’t colors—if we’re getting technical—so feel free to incorporate these into your monochromatic scheme. Layering in some black draws the eye to key focal points and areas you wish to highlight. White, on the other hand, brings brightness and air to a room. And metallics are neutrals in their own right and can lend a little sparkle and detail. Just be sure to use these sparingly so you don’t dilute the broader goal of this styling strategy.
If you’re not ready to dive in headfirst, you can test the waters by starting small. Create a monochromatic front entranceway, walk-in closet, or home office. While many people love the monochromatic look, it’s not for everyone.
If you’re not sure but want to give it a go before applying it in a larger area, these small spaces are usually closed to adjacent rooms, so feel free to try an especially bold color. Paint, wallpaper, upholstery, and accessories will give you the biggest no-obligation bang for your buck.
These small spaces have the added benefit of being easier and cheaper to decorate without all the intricate and expensive elements you’d find in a kitchen or bathroom. When it’s all said and done, if you decide you’re just not loving it, you can easily redecorate.
Don't take your monochromatic decor too seriously, because not everything is always by the book. Some decisions don’t have a rhyme or reason, but instead come from a deep-down gut instinct that one can’t explain. With a monochromatic home, do what feels right.
Choose a color that resonates with you and then surround yourself with patterns and accessories that reflect your idea of home, your experience of life, and your interpretation of love.
All these things are subjective, and no one can tell you what is right or wrong. With the right resources and an open mind, a professional designer can guide you in the right direction to make your home beautiful, comfortable, and a true reflection of you.
Seeking further design inspiration? Explore our latest edition of Beautiful Design Made Simple, featuring exclusive designer tips and expert insights into the latest flooring trends.
Diana Balanyuk, the mastermind behind Diana Rose Design, elevates home interiors while incorporating an exploration of self-discovery, artistic expression, and the art of storytelling. Her luxurious interior designs seamlessly blend modern and transitional styles, creating a distinctive and captivating aesthetic.