The combination of black and white, it should be mentioned, has the potential to look a little cold, but there are lots of ways to warm it up. In the Harris bedroom I did that by mixing lots of patterns. I covered the chairs in a hounds tooth check, covered the walls with paisley wallpaper and scattered pillows in a bold, flowered print around the room. The highlight, though, is the quilt on the bed, which was created especially for the Harrises by renowned quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama.
These African-American women, many of them descendants of slaves, carryon a tradition that’s been passed on for generations. Their work is so admired that it’s been shown in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and now adorns a stamp. I gave them a panel of the black-and-white curtains I’d found.
In the thrift shop and that became the edging of the quilt. And let me tell you, that quilt is absolutely awesome! Perched atop the Harrises’ four-poster bed, it’s a work of art (and source of warmth). I also did a similarly graphic, if not entirely black- and-white room, for a great couple in North Carolina. Linda Riggins, despite being told that she wouldn’t amount to much, put herself through college and graduated with honors. She started a community center to help keep disadvantaged children in school and offer them activities like music and dance.