There are few color combinations as flexible as black and white. So why do we only seem to see it in either a modern minimalist style or formally traditional, or maybe upmarket French Country, or self-conscious goth?

There’s got to be another way — liveable and classic, but with a touch of whimsy — much more personal…

black-and-white dog print fabric I’d love to do a room in the black-and-white toile decor style, but with a funky twist.

Instead of the usual toile landscape pattern, for example, what about doing your throw pillows or valences or other accents in a black-and-white dog print fabric?

Or do a trapunto treatment on a swatch of toile, padding out areas of the print to make a three-dimensional effect? Very special as upholstery on the top of an ottoman, or framed as wall art.

And if you’re using fabric as wall art, why not go for an over-sized piece of an over-sized print? I covered a 3×5-foot bulletin board in a bold Art Deco-inspired fabric for a home office, once. It really jazzed the place up!

Go for the unexpected, that’s what I’m saying — because black and white decor can be anything but conservative and boring!

In Ribbons and Trims, the decor-craft book that I was gushing about earlier this week, there’s a picture of a simple off-white lampshade covered in closely-fitted parallel rows of black pompom trim — what they used to call “bobbles” — of the kind you might associate with an edging on a curtain or a tourist-souvenir sombrero.

Just imagine — in an otherwise traditional room, a lamp like that would show such a sense of humour and style!

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