A high-contrast space (a room that uses light and dark values of colors in combination - for example, deep burgundy with light gold) appears clearer and more highly defined than a space that incorporates low contrasts (say, saffron yellow with sage green). So think about using high contrast to enhance the formality of a room and low contrast to introduce soothing qualities.
When paired, black and white (which, by the way, are not colors but rather the addition or subtraction of light) are somewhat formal in appearance, not unlike a tuxedo. White with beige, however, has a low contrast and a feeling of calmness. Combining white and black with gray is very low key and also creates a restful space.
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