Black & White: Neutral doesn’t have to be “blah”

Lowcountry Living (January 2008)
by Stephanie Burt Williams
Photography by John McManus

Modern homeowners often resort to a too-easy solution for a relaxing home: a neutral color scheme so everything “goes.” Mike Ruegamer of Group 3 Design designed this room (in a Hilton Head home) so that it's airy, bright and neutral but definitely not boring. He started with the traditionally modern palette of black and white and softened it into the tones of a faded black-and-white-photograph; the result is a master bedroom that is serene and traditional with a modern touch.

Design Tips

1. The iron bed creates an open feeling (no solid headboard and footboard), and its deep black color provides some richness to the room.2. Plantation shutters filter the light and add an architectural element while at the same time blending into the background.

3. The toile fabric acts as an anchor for the design, but Ruegamer didn't overdo it with draperies on each window; he instead chose to feature the fabric in the focal points of the French doors and the bedding.

4. To create a designed look like this room has, avoid pieces that match, instead opting for different natural textures: wood, sweetgrass, iron.

5. Avoid stark whites and choose a variety of creamy hues, including the pale grey-green paint on the wall, Benjamin Moore #1570.

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