While it is true that high contrast will add drama to a room, it is wise to consider how you use contrast. A painted accent wall is fairly easy to change should you decide you cannot live with the drama the color created, but a floor or a tiled backsplash or shower enclosure is a bit more complicated in terms of expense and time invested.
When you are considering changing something more permanent in your home, like flooring and counter surfaces as well as backsplashes and tub/shower enclosures, try less contrast. You will be living with these changes for a long time and a classic surface in these areas will serve you better.
Think of all the homes built in the early to mid-20th Century; for the most part, these homes were built with hardwood flooring. Over the years, as wall to wall carpet became popular, these floors were covered with soft, colorful carpet. Today, that carpet is considered undesirable and old fashioned. Carpets in older homes are routinely being pulled up, exposing those now treasured hardwood floors. If the wood is in good condition, a simple sanding, staining and fresh coat of polyurethane to preserve its beauty for another half century or more.
Choosing a new color for the floor will be important and fairly permanent. While it may be tempting to add or stain a border or pattern, think in terms of long term use and how you will feel about such a contrast as a wide, light or dark border verses a solid-colored floor. An exception to this rule, would be if the floors cannot be successfully refinished, but can be painted instead; then I’d say, go ahead and paint a fun harlequin pattern or boarder. While the traditional black and white pattern is always popular, you can use softer colors for less contrast, like shades of grey or spa colors like blues and greens; even shades of beige would be a calm and peaceful color combination.
Tile and natural stone is an expensive and fairly permanent surface for kitchens and baths. Tempting are the bright colors and fun patterns, but again, consider how long it will be in style, staying classic is wiser.
Unless your home is clearly in a particular style like a Spanish Revival or Spanish Colonial, the use of colorfully patterned tiles might be a bit risky. Adding cute “accent tiles” to a kitchen backsplash will date your renovation very quickly and reduce its value at resale time.
If using these colorful and playful tiles is something you have your heart set on, use them in less permanent ways. For instance you can make tile trivets and hang them on the backsplash to add some personality without risking the need to tear it out once you tire of it.
When considering high contrast, think about how long you will live in this home and consider the home’s style. High contrast will give you high drama, but you can enjoy soft contrast too and it is often easier to live with in the long term.