The Gray Area of Patterned, Black and White Sofas
In the past few days, I’ve seen some absolutely killer black and white sofas on Instagram. For example:
^This geometric one from @itsaboutcreativityandlove
^ This tribal, mudcloth-inspired one from @onekingslane
and finally, this earthy striped one from @anthropologie.
A lot of people – myself included – stay away from patterned couches. Why? Because couches are kind of like tattoos. They are a long term commitment and they are expensive. People are afraid that they might love a couch now (kind of like how one might LOVE that Vietnamese saying they’re about to get tatted on their rump), but might regret the couch later – after all, tastes and styles change. Therefore, its a lot easier to get a neutral couch and change how you’ve decorate around the couch (i.e., with throw pillows, a can of spray paint on some accent furniture, curtains, or other decor). I tend to agree with this logic, especially when your operating within a budget or trying to save up some cash money.
HOWEVER – lately, I’ve seen a lot of patterned sofas styled in ways where the sofa acts more like a neutral. This is especially true where the sofa is a duo-chromatic, simple, pattern. Think black and white, tan and black, navy and white, or light taupe and dark taupe. Nothing crazy bright. When decorated property, a super cool, patterned, and much more unique sofa can be just that – super cool, patterned, and unique – without being as risky as a Vietnamese tattoo. In a few years, when styles change or when you just want to mix things up a bit, the right couch can be made to look completely different (but still equally cool, patterned, and unique)! Basically, there is a gray area when it comes to patterned sofas, and that gray area lies in black and white sofas. Here’s how you can find that sweet spot:
- Stick with neutral colors, and no more than two colors total (unless there is a fading/ombre situation – then you’ve got a bit more flexibility);
- Stick with simple patterns – smaller patterns (like the small geometric pattern in the couch from @itsaboucreativityandlove) or classic patterns (like the striped couch from Anthropologie);
- If one color is more dominant than the other color in the pattern (for example, the sofa from @onekingslane is mostly white), make sure its a color with which you can work. Your eyes understand when a color is a “background color” or the “foreground/design color” and this serves as a basis for which is the dominant color and which is the accent color. Personally, I think lighter and more neutral is better for the background color.
Here are a variety of ways a black and white couch can be transformed to create vastly different looks based on their surrounding decor:
- Slightly glam, slightly eclectic with a black and white geometric couch (note that the main colors are still black and white, with some slight wood and then some accents of teal and pink):
- More of a mid-century modern bohemian vibe (note the broad color palette and variety of different upholstery patterns (yellow pillow, black floral pillow, rug):
- Earthier, more rustic bohemian (note the more neutral tones, “blockier” furniture, and generally more “easy-going, nonchalant placement of the decor):
- This super glam use of a black and white sofa, with a hint of bold bohemian styling (note the gold, the exaggerated pieces, and pinks and purples):
- And finally, this more contemporary styling:
Moral of the story – black and white couches can be a lot more neutral than other patterned couches, and are a lot more flexible, such that you can create a lot of different looks with the same couch.
Now the problem – THEY ARE SO HARD TO FIND! They are about as hard to find as a horse in a living room (see the photo of the anthropologie couch above). I scoured the internet, and couldn’t find a single black and white patterned couch for under $1200. And the only non-custom-upholstered couch I could find is the Anthropologie one above. All of the others were custom-upholstered couches from places like West Elm and Ballard Designs. Readers – have you found a black and white patterned couch recently? Do you have one? What do you think about black and white sofas? Post below or tag @franc_and_eli on Instagram!