How to mix it up with a monochromatic design

Going monochromatic doesn’t mean your room will lack variety or flair.


Color is one of the most effective ways to express yourself and your personality, so why would you want to go with a monochromatic decorating scheme? Wouldn’t that be safe, drab and—the worst sin of all—boring? Actually, going monochromatic doesn’t mean your room will lack variety or flair. Done right, a monochromatic décor can be sophisticated, soothing, and quite distinctive.


Monochromatic color schemes allow you to achieve an interior décor that is cohesive and easy on the eyes. A major advantage of this type of palette is that you’re less likely to make mistakes: no worries about whether your complementary or split-complementary color plan is too jarring to the eye. If you have an open floor plan, staying within the parameters of a monochromatic color scheme can give you a nice flow from space to space.



Build Interest With Texture and Pattern

The most successful monochromatic schemes typically involve the use of a neutral color that’s rendered in various different values—that is, a range of lightness and darkness. But keep in mind that color is only one aspect of your decorating scheme. Texture, sheen, and pattern also are effective ways to add visual interest and sophistication to a room, and they can be particularly effective in a monochromatic color scheme.


If you’ve built your room around a taupe scheme, for instance, pattern can help you use the color in unique and eye-catching ways. A paisley print on your throw pillows, featuring closely aligned colors, will add a nice decorative flourish to your sofa. A floral or geometric pattern on an area rug, rendered in a moderate shift from your chosen color, is a beautiful way to pull your color scheme together.


Use a pattern on the wall to add interest within your chosen color scheme. Wallpaper will allow you to introduce pattern, texture, or contrasting sheens to a single feature wall or even to the entire room. Similarly, you can create a painted wall treatment that adds pizzazz to your monochrome scheme. For example, a tone-on-tone striped effect with subtle shifts in color and sheen can add just the touch of sophistication you’re looking for.


Texture is another important element of a monochromatic color scheme. You can use texture in various elements of the room—for instance, a plush area rug, a woven window treatment, multidimensional wall tiles, a faux-brick wall finish, or carefully chosen accessories (more on those below).


Accessorize Like a Pro

Accessories are a great way to make your monochromatic décor more distinctive. A glass and chrome accent table, a tall floor vase in a unique material such as galvanized metal or concrete, a piece of rough-hewn pottery, or multimedia wall art will add an element of texture. In a monochromatic color scheme, your accessories are a way to add some color—for instance, with some greenery or blooms in your vases or a multicolored art piece hanging above the fireplace.


Finally, light is a way to make your monochromatic décor quite literally shine.  Distinctive light fixtures and lamps add a nice element to the room, and you can use track lighting to highlight a specific area or decorative element. Natural lighting is another great element to feature in a monochromatic room. Make sure your window treatments can be easily lifted or drawn to the side to add a light and airy feeling to the surroundings.


How to resolve decorating disagreements


A few trade-offs can result in a design that makes everyone happy.


You say, “Wallpaper.” I say, “Wall texture.” You say, “Carpet.” I say, “Hardwood.” Before you call the whole thing off, recognize that compromise might be required to resolve disputes over home décor. Whether you’ve just purchased your first home or are finally getting around to redecorating after decades, you may find that those diverse views that make life interesting in the best of times add heat to discussions over design decisions. Keep in mind that differences over decorating are common, and a few tradeoffs can result in a striking décor that makes everyone happy.



You’re in This Together

When two people share a dwelling, what makes it their home is a concerted effort to reflect the combination of styles and interests. If a major disagreement arises over interior design, a first step may be to look for common, or at least complementary, ground.


Start with the palette: A visit to Tommy's Paint Pot will offer a wealth of color schemes and wall-finishing options from which to choose to form the backdrop of your décor. Next, compare furnishing styles. If your tastes run to classical and your partner prefers modern, you may be able to find some elements of each style that offer a starting point for discussion. Spend some time browsing decorating sites, shows, and magazines to identify rooms that you like. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to talk about why you like this and why your partner likes that, which may provide some insights into the emotional aspects of decorating preferences.


Shopping and making these decisions as a team makes it more likely that both of you will feel involved and pleased with the outcomes. Speaking of shopping, that’s another area where there may be some disagreement. You may love to shop—the more choices, the better—whereas your partner hates it, or vice versa. In that case, one solution is for the shopping pro to make some scouting trips, return with paint and wallpaper samples and fabric swatches, and then schedule return visits to the stores most likely to yield maximum results with a minimum time commitment from the non-shopper.


It Doesn’t Have to Be Either/Or

Combining your decorating preferences and treasures can yield a décor that’s fabulous and uniquely yours. Style, function, and comfort aren’t mutually exclusive. An antique cupboard can command a place of honor in otherwise modern surroundings.


Going room by room is another strategy. If one of your style preferences dominates in the living room, the other person could make key design decisions in the kitchen. And each of you can have your own spaces on which to place your stamp by choosing favorite colors, furniture, and belongings to showcase in a den, sewing room, or hobby haven.


Some rooms can be designed for double duty: The basement man cave may occasionally be rearranged to make room for a big family get-together. The home office can double as a display for that prized collection that used to grace a living room.    


A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way

People have strong attachments to their belongings and sense of style. It may be hard to agree that a cherished collection of salt and pepper shakers or sports memorabilia would clash with a new living room décor. Acknowledging the pangs that arise over such decisions and appreciating each other’s willingness to compromise are crucial steps in creating surroundings you can both call your own.