Ten Beautiful Rooms from The Monochrome Home

A slight change of tack this week as I’m delighted to be able to bring you pictures from the latest book by one of my favourite stylists Hilary Robertson. I spotted this book when I was at publisher Ryland Peters & Small for a meeting a few weeks ago and immediately asked if I would be able to write about it when it came out.


The book deals with decorating in black and white and the shades in between. This is sort of my dream interior design scheme although I would never be quite disciplined enough to stick to just black or white. My own house started off mainly white, then the black/charcoal started to creep in and now the accent colours, which are mostly 50 shades of pink actually.


Hilary says this is how the book came about. Having always veered towards large doses of white and grey she could never resist adding dollops of turquoise, chartreuse or, like me (you have no idea how thrilled that makes me) pale pink. Until she began to wonder what would happen if she disciplined herself to just black and white.


The result was this book. I too am drawn to the simplicity of monochrome, while more than one colour at a time (in addition to blacks, whites and greys) makes me feel slightly on edge. I remember – cue name drop – interviewing Chrissie Rucker, founder of the White Company, a few years ago who said the same thing to me. It’s not that her whole house is white (although it sort of is – 50 shades of anyway) it’s just that lots of bright colour doesn’t make her relaxed and I feel the same way.


But, if you’re a bit scared of colour, like me, or like balancing it with a simpler colour scheme and want to know how to layer in texture and print, you’ll love this book as , I hope, these pictures will show.


According to Hilary, in the same way that wearing only black and white makes getting dressed easier, so does a monochrome home make living easier:

“Monochrome interiors are restful, timeless and practical. By restricting the colour palette, any number of eclectic elements can exist happily together, inexpensive or simple things look more sophisticated and decorating decisions are made easier. Creativity flourishes within the boundaries of black, white, grey and all the shades in between.”


It might take some discipline at first, she warns, but once you start editing, decisions become remarkably simple. “Those hours spent contemplating paint swatches, combining them, imagining a way for all the different spaces in a home to flow visually, creating a cohesive whole are over.”


The only reason decision, she suggests, is whether you are white with accents of black or veer towards the darker end of the spectrum with a few flashes of light.


Crushingly for all of us who thought we were being a bit fashion forward with our grey walls, Hilary suggests that for the true monochromists grey is rather middle of the road. We’re a bit bland, they would say.


Fortunately, she is happy to point out that there are any number of “fashionably complex” greys so I think we can hold our heads high among the purists after all. And, for anyone who is toying with the idea of being a little more monochrome, then this book will show you how. Me? I’m off to google black and white rugs. Again.

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Images taken from Monochrome Home by Hilary Robertson, photography by Pia Ulin, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£25) on 9 April 2015.
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I’m going to own this book! We’re in the middle of choosing paint right now; sadly, Mr 23 is not a fan of grey, whereas I could do every room in all the shades of. Sigh.

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