Get Inspired: Timeless Ways to Use Black, White and Navy

Just like in the gorgeous dining room at HGTV Smart Home 2017, black and white create a graphic background for rich navy blue accents. Although this trio is not just for dining rooms: It works in any space, with any architectural style.

By: Amanda Lecky


Photo By: Erin Kunkel

Photo By: Steven Holmes

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Aubrie Pick Photography

Photo By: D&M Images

Bespoke Beauty

In a room for a young bachelor, designer Jennifer Dyer wanted to create a look that was “masculine without being too dark.” To that end, she painted the walls a soft café au lait color, and then used black, white, and navy accents on the bed, windows, and trim. The effect is tailored but far from stark.

Design by Jennifer Dyer, Jeneration Interiors; 

Trade Trick

Why do designers love the combination of navy, black, and white? Lauren Nelson, who created this San Francisco bedroom, weighs in: “If you want to add a bit of edge to a space definitely incorporate black with the more traditional colors of navy and white. All three pair really well together and give a modern, fresh feel to any room.” To keep the space from looking weighed down by the dark navy or black areas, she advises incorporating plenty of light hues, as she did here with white and cream bedding and white ceiling and side walls.

Design by Lauren Nelson, Lauren Nelson Design;; Photography by Erin Kunkel

Blue and Moody

To create a masculine elegance in the dining room of a bungalow-style home, designer Kerrie Kelly painted the walls a deep navy blue, then added accents of black and white through the graphic rug, window and door trim, and picture frames. Says Kelly, “Navy blue is the color of the decade.”

Design and Photography by Kerrie Kelly, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab;

Luxe Layers

A family with young children wanted a “classically current” take on their current formal living room, says builder Rallin Welch. By keeping the walls and cabinetry crisp with a coat of Sherwin-Williams Snowbound paint, the design team was able to create a bold contrast with a geometric black and white area rug. A club chair upholstered in rich navy blue adds just the right element of sophisticated luxury, plus a hint of color.

Design by Laura U Interior Design; Construction by Rallin Welch of Welch Builders;; Photography by Julie Soefer

Splash of Color

“You want a bright, clean bathroom, but you want it to be a little seductive too,” says designer Pamela Dailey. “Especially in a small urban bathroom, black fixtures with modern silhouettes stave off that antiseptic quality that plagues so many ‘white’ bathrooms. Layering navy (my favorite neutral because it’s both feminine and austere) into the mix, on the bathmat and towels, keeps it all from feeling too high-contrast.”

Design by Pamela Dailey, Pamela Dailey Design,; Photography by Rikki Snyder

Balancing Act

Faced with a large, high-ceilinged dining room and a client with a minimalist aesthetic, designer Corine Maggio opted to use color to visually fill the space. “I chose a rich, deep blue to accentuate the architecture and add balance and fullness to what is otherwise a very white great room,” says Maggio. Natural elements like a driftwood mirror and reclaimed tabletop nod to the home’s coastal location, while the black finish on the chairs and industrial light fixtures inject a more contemporary vibe.

Design by Corine Maggio, CM Natural Designs;; Photography by Chipper Hatter

Mixing Old and New

In the media room of a 100-year-old Victorian cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan designer Tom Stringer took care to create a design that would respect the past while bringing the look into the present. “Our goal was to preserve the history and charm of a classic American cottage—keeping all the creaky floors, exposed beams, and architecture in tact—but update it to feel light and breezy and suited for gathering multiple generations of family,” says Stringer. A new coat of Benjamin Moore White Dove paint created a crisp backdrop, while bold blue upholstery added energy and black and white prints injected an unexpectedly contemporary edge.

Design by Tom Stringer, Tom Stringer Design Partners;; Photography by Werner Straube

Can’t-Miss Combination

To return a classic pre-war New York City kitchen to its former elegance, designers Anastasia Amelchakova and James Krapp turned to the timeless combination of black and white. White cabinets almost appear to float against the espresso-stained wood floors; the freestanding island and bar stools match the floor’s deep finish. The warm veins of Calacatta Gold marble on the counters and backsplash “invite accents of copper and gold,” say the designers. Finally, a hint of blue on the throw adds a softening hint of color.

Design by Anastasia Amelchakova and James Krapp, studio PPARK llc;; Photography by Aubrie Pick

Shifting Out of Neutral

When designer Debbie Basnett’s clients wanted a change from their previously neutral family room, she turned to a black, white, and navy palette—punctuated with splashes of gold—to create a brighter outlook. The keys to the success of this space, says Basnett, are the “white walls, keeping the main upholstery fabric solid, and adding loads of texture.”

Design by Debbie Basnett, Vintage Scout Interiors,; Photography by Tricialee Photography

Working the “Pop of Color”

“This room was designed with the intention of demonstrating the power of a pop of color,” say designers Trevor Ciona and Curtis Elmy. “It began with the layering in neutrals—blacks, whites, and beiges—and then adding in glittering metallics (golds, silver, and bronze) for a luxury look. The pop of color comes in with the navy sofa: It’s a purposeful and intentional use of color that requires commitment, but the result is bolder than incorporating color in smaller pieces.”

Design by Trevor Ciona & Curtis Elmy, Atmosphere Interior Design Canada;; Photography by Elaine Mark, D&M Images,

Room to Grow

It’s tempting to create a bedroom that’s perfect for your child right now, but smart parents and designers know that a room needs to evolve with the child. Designer Merick Gollan chose furnishings and design elements with a view to the future. “Neutral walls with accents of navy are classic, and can be styled in a variety of ways, from traditional to modern,” says Gollan. Subtle black accents—the picture frames, for example—add a contemporary touch that makes the room feel cool and not too cute.

Design by Merick Gollan, Merigo Design Inc.;; Photography by Donna Griffiths

Low-Key Luxury

To give this elegant living room a sense of scale and detail, architect Alison Strickland stripped down the existing fireplace, refinishing it with a new black honed-granite surround and hearth, a painted wood surround, and a tall overmantel “intended to draw the eye upwards, accentuating the height of the room.” A coat of Benjamin Moore CC-40 paint gives the paneled walls a crisp, clean look, but “it’s a warm-enough white to counterbalance the dark grays and blacks,” says Strickland. Adding more warmth and interest: the highly textured navy-and-white diamond-paned area rug.

Architecture by Alison Strickland, Strickland Mateljan Design Associates Ltd;; design by Connie Braemer Design;; Photography by Stacy Vazquez-Abrams

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