Published this month is a gorgeous, gloss new book by writer and stylist Hilary Robertson. Called Monochrome Home, the book explores the stunning homes where owners have decided to live at one end of the colour spectrum. From poured black floors as shiny as an oil slick to immaculate all-white spaces built to embrace light and order, the book features some of the most striking monochrome homes from around the world, as well as Robertson’s insights into the design tricks and subtly graded colour palettes that make it all work. A self-confessed colour-lover with “an embarrassingly voracious eye” Robertson introduces the book with a personal epiphany. “Years of absorbing images, of desiring so many things, of flirting with trends and decorating fads have made me understand how helpful rigour can be,” she writes. Notorious colour-junkies ourselves, we asked her to explain more…
Was there a specific moment that inspired the idea for the book?
“I had been looking at a lot of Scandinavian blogs and noticed that they all seemed to present a monochrome look that seemed quite effortless and easy to live with – white painted or concrete floors, white walls, black and white accessories. And then I started a Pinterest board called ‘monochrome’ that just grew exponentially and I realized how strong the look was all over the world; a sort of color minimalism.”
Has working on the book changed anything about the way you decorate or curate your own home? How is your own home decorated?
“Its pretty monochromatic. I’ve always preferred a territory color palette so it does include some soft pinky taupes, warm greys and a lot of black and white. I always mix old and new as I’m a bit of a flea market junkie but I’m veering towards new more at the moment. I am shifting the balance of vintage versus contemporary a bit. I’m buying more contemporary ceramics and modern lighting. I would love to be more minimal but I keep a lot of props for work at home!”
Light or dark – which of the palettes from the book appeals to you most?
“I like both and I usually incorporate some dark rooms in my homes. When there is a room that gets little natural light I go for dark shades. I like the drama of the dark ground. In lighter spaces I choose pale-grey or white, and I would always go for a white or grey floor over a dark floor.”
Can you pinpoint any wider (cultural) reasons why monochrome is having a moment?
“I think fashion influences interiors a lot and it seems to me that popular labels like Rag & Bone, Hope, Helmut Lang and Acne all revolve around a monochrome palette. It’s definitely a way of keeping things at home simpler – editing color from your home and wardrobe (when there are so many choices available) helps you make decisions. It’s calming and classic, easy to live with. And if 80 or 90% of your home is monochrome you can afford to take some risks with an on-trend splash of contrasting color for accessories now and then.”
Do you need to be brave to go for this look – or to sustain it?
“You just need to be a good editor. I suspect it is a discipline that you have to develop and be rigorous about and gradually it becomes reflexive. I’m almost there but I can’t quite bear to part with the things that don’t fit!”
Monochrome Home by Hilary Robertson, with photography by Pia Ulin, is published by Ryland Peters & Small on 9 April 2015