Tips for Adding Traditional Black and White Photos into Contemporary Home Decor

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Black and white photography is a classic, artistic style, loved for its nostalgic and atmospheric effect. Even so long after the birth of colour photos, many people choose to have photos printed in monochrome because they love the way it looks. If you have a collection of old prints tucked away, there's a good chance at least some of them are black and white.

Old monochrome photos can look great displayed in various types of home, but if your style is particularly contemporary, you may feel like they won't fit in. With the right photos and framing, they can look right at home, so follow these tips and get the right effect.

Choose the right pictures

If you want to rely on the photos alone to match your modern decor, choose carefully. It's best to go for images that aren't too crowded or busy, with a fair bit of background or significant plain sections.

Often, buildings or other structures can be a good way to create the right effect, rather than pictures of people.

Choose a suitable framing material

Because of their traditional look, black and white pictures are often framed in more traditional styles. In your contemporary home, you can try something a bit different to fit in with your design.

Use bright plain metal frames to bring those old photos up to date, or go for plastic frames in either black or white. The trick is to choose something simple and plain that will complement rather than stand out in contemporary rooms. Consider custom framing if you have a treasure photo that doesn't quite fit in regular frames.

Get colourful

Not all contemporary homes are plan and colourless. You might be someone who likes to get experimental with colour choices, and doing this with the frame for a monochrome photo can really transform how it looks.

Use a colour that echoes other elements of your room design, or get extra creative and choose colours that complement. You can also have several pictures together, each in a different coloured frame, which really adds an attractive splash of colour to a room.

Experiment with size

Frames are normally either the same size as the picture they contain or close to it with a mount to separate the two. Just because this is the usual way of doing things, however, it doesn't mean you can't break the rules.

A great way to turn a simple black and white photo into a piece of modern art is to use a frame that's much bigger than the print. Use a black or white mount or background to fill the gap between the picture and the frame, and it creates a striking effect.

To really maximise it, use a particularly small photograph in a large frame. It draws the eye to the picture but also reduces its impact in the room as a whole, for an intriguingly modern touch.