Q&A: Jeff Trotter reveals his expert tips for black & white design

When it comes to menswear, monochrome is my moniker, but when it comes to interior design, no one does black and white better than my friend, Jeff Trotter.

This LA-based designer is a master of modern luxury who creates beautiful, high-contrast interiors for the clients of his eponymous firm. Along with his refined aesthetic and meticulous attention to detail, which are self-evident in his ever-growing Instagram account, his designs helped to make him a finalist for Traditional Home Magazine’s New Designer of 2016.

Needless to say, I often send him SOS texts about pillow cases and end tables.

I recently spoke with Jeff about our shared love for these dichotomous colors and how to make them work in any space. Here’s what he had to say:

Nicholas Trobiano: You use a lot of black and white in your designs. What keeps you going back to them?

Jeff Trotter: A black and white palette is such a timeless and sophisticated color scheme in design. It’s neutral yet high contrast, it can be extremely traditional or lean modern, and it allows for endless opportunities in a space. It’s also a fantastic canvas to incorporate virtually any color you’d like.

Marble and dark wood give the illusion of black and white inside this stunning dressing room renovation.

NT: When you do decide to use color, what are your go-to favorites?

JT: I tend to favor shades of blue and green, but I also love shades of nude, taupe, blush pink, and chocolate brown. It really all depends on my client’s desires, as well as what may be appropriate for the space or spaces that I’m creating.

NT: What about gray? Does it enhance or detract from monochrome design?

JT: Gray is a color I use in every project. Whether it’s a monochromatic space, or a more colorful palette, gray will always be found somewhere in a Jeff Trotter design. It can be a great equalizer or a bold statement in and of itself.

Natural fibers and animal prints add warmth and interest to this Hancock Park guest room.

NT: I imagine using only black and white in a room would be a bit overwhelming. What are some tricks for using color while keeping the room “reading” monochromatic?

JT: The textures I incorporate are just as important as the colors I choose in my designs. I’m a huge proponent of layering varying textures that create a visual and tactile experience. It’s important to soften the contrast of a black and white space with different fabrics, accessories, and art that create an inviting environment.

NT: How do finishes and textures help to enhance these types of designs?

JT: Finishes and textures are integral in making any color scheme feel cohesive. I’m able to lighten and brighten a space by using lighter and higher-sheen finishes such as polished brass, chrome or nickel, or darken a room by incorporating darker, matte finishes like powder-coated steel, oil-rubbed bronze or matte black. As far as fabrics go, silks, viscose and velvets can help formalize a space, while cottons, linens and natural fibers tend to create a more casual and informal feel.

To enhance the room’s natural light, high-polished chrome and glass finishes shine brightly in this Santa Monica master bath.

NT: How do you make black and white feel less cold and more inviting?

JT: Textures, finishes, and accessories. The styling of a space can take black and white in absolutely any and every direction.

NT:  Do you have any favorite monochrome projects in your portfolio?

JT: Picking a favorite project of mine would be like a parent picking a favorite child. I love different aspects of every space I create, but even if I did have a favorite, I’d never tell.

Muted gold walls and rich green succulents balance out the dramatic contrast of these black and white cabinets.

For more information about him or his work, visit

Photos courtesy of Edward Duarte


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