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Regional colour trends

For the most part, the current colour palette is comprised of feel-good colours – yellows, oranges, reds and blues – and nature-inspired greens and earthy neutrals. But travel from region to region and country to country and you’ll often find slight variations in colour preferences. Geographic location, cultural diversity, demographics, the surrounding landscape, fashion and current events all play a part in influencing colour choices regionally. For example, homeowners in the subtropical north may favour a cool palette, while those in colder climes may opt for warmer tones.

“It can depend on whether it’s an older building or a new one,” says Dunedin-based Resene colour consultant Jill Marsh, “but we’re finding instead of going creamier so they have that more white look or cooler look, home owners are going as light as they can. For instance, with Resene Spanish White, which is a creamier version, they’re going lighter with Resene Quarter Spanish White. It’s warmer than our grey-whites, which is what a lot of the really modern places are going to. And because we’re down here it feels warmer in our homes.”

Resene Spanish White
Resene Spanish White
Resene Quarter Spanish White
Resene Quarter Spanish White

Other Resene colours that have proven consistently popular over the years remain popular but the tendency is to go one or two shades lighter. “Resene Tea, for instance, is always up there, never to be excluded,” says Jill, “but it’s going lighter. Resene Sea Fog, Resene White Pointer, Resene Rice Cake, Resene Bianca – all of the lovely light whites and neutrals. They’re all definitely up there.”

Resene Tea
Resene Tea
Resene Sea Fog
Resene Sea Fog
Resene White Pointer
Resene White Pointer
Resene Rice Cake
Resene Rice Cake
Resene Bianca
Resene Bianca

However, modern architecture can see a swing in the opposite direction. Many of the newer homes in Dunedin, which are well insulated, are going grey-white.
“Probably the biggest change for us is that our main colours of our whites and neutrals are going into soft greys. You’re seeing the light Resene Silver Chalice and Resene Cloud type colours, colours that have been around for a long time, kind of like that whole Resene Sea Fog look, but they’re just a little more grey. It’s just getting the balance, depending on whether it’s an old home or a new home. The older homes are going the warmer, pale creams because they feel so cold.”

Resene Silver Chalice
Resene Silver Chalice
Resene Cloud
Resene Cloud
Resene Sea Fog
Resene Sea Fog

Wendy Elers of Wendy Elers Colour & Design, who works in both the Canterbury and Wellington/Kapiti regions, agrees that climate can influence regional colour preferences, but she says so too can location (metropolitan or by the coast, for example) and current events.

“In Christchurch, they tend to go with richer neutral colours – richer, stronger, darker wall colours – but at the moment there’s a trend for light colours, off-whites. The palette is definitely lighter and brigher. I would say this harks back to the earthquake, and wanting to feel more uplifted. Those rich naturals can be a bit depressing,” she says.

Resene Sea Fog and Resene Rice Cake are two popular colour choices, as opposed to previous favourites such as Resene Napa and Resene Double Tea.

“The darker walls kind of come in at you,” says Wendy, “and I think they want to give them a lighter, brighter, fresh, safe, clean look. I think more than ever the people of Canterbury are wanting their homes to be their safe haven because they haven’t had that for a couple of years now.”

Resene Sea Fog
Resene Sea Fog
Resene Rice Cake
Resene Rice Cake
Resene Napa
Resene Napa
Resene Double Tea
Resene Double Tea

Cantabrians are also opting for strong, bright colours that make their homes feel more cheerful – a feature wall, for example, in uplifting colours, like yellows, mustards and reds.

“Mustard colours like Resene Galliano,” says Wendy. “Something a bit more wow. And Resene Whizz Bang, which is a nice reddy colour with orange, and Resene Optimist, which is a nice bright blue.”

Resene Galliano
Resene Galliano
Resene Whizz Bang
Resene Whizz Bang
Resene Optimist
Resene Optimist

In the Wellington/Kapiti region, homeowners are going for a bolder look. There’s still the tendency towards off-white walls, says Wendy, using colours such as Resene Sea Fog, Resene Alabaster, Resene Rice Cake and Resene Barely There. But they’re pairing that neutral palette with bold-patterned wallpapers for a more personalised look.

Resene Sea Fog
Resene Sea Fog
Resene Alabaster
Resene Alabaster
Resene Rice Cake
Resene Rice Cake
Resene Barely There
Resene Barely There

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we’ve had enough of the recession and everyone just wants to be able to have some control over their home environment. And they can do something whacky there.”

The patterns may be bolder than those in Christchurch, says Wendy, but they tend to be in black and white. Stronger accents are brought in with the accessories.

“They’re not quite so bold with their colour palette. Older clients still go for Resene Tea and that sort of thing, but the newer, trendier homes, the architectural homes, I would say 95 per cent of their walls are a white of some kind.”

Resene Tea
Resene Tea

As a contrast, house exteriors in the region are becoming bolder.

“We drive around and see lots of grey and brown houses, but people are wanting something a little more uplifting or energising. People in the Wellington/Kapiti region are definitely getting more bold with exterior colour. I recently did a house that was two colours. It was an earthy tone like Resene Tea and a strong mustard, a bit like Resene Galliano but not so mustard. The owner said that every time she drove up to the house it made her feel happy.”

Resene Tea
Resene Tea
Resene Galliano
Resene Galliano

Homes in rural areas tend to go for greens and earthy tones on their exteriors, which reflect the surrounding hills, pastures and native bush. Resene Calm Green or Resene Butterfly Creek and Resene Half Tea are popular exterior choices, says Wendy.

Resene calm Green
Resene Calm Green

Resene Butterfly Creek

Resene Half Tea

She’s also noticed that homes in coastal areas are using more blues and coastal hues, like Resene Bel Air and Resene Submarine.


Resene Bel Air

Resene Submarine

Auckland-based Resene colour consultant Sarah Gregory sees colour trends in Auckland moving in a couple of directions.

“I’ve noticed over the past six months that people are using blues and greens inside again, and even outside. I’ve seen a lot of blue houses around, which is different for Auckland because we’re usually so neutral. I think that’s because we are so coastal, because we’re surrounded by the sea, people are experimenting more with blues.”

She’s seen a gravitation towards soft blues such as Resene Eskimo, Resene Hermitage, Resene Escape and Resene Coastal Blue, as well as soft greens such as Resene Bud and Resene Pale Leaf, both for interior and exterior.

Resene Eskimo
Resene Eskimo
Resene Hermitage
Resene Hermitage
Resene Escape
Resene Escape
Resene Coastal Blue
Resene Coastal Blue
       
  Resene Bud
Resene Bud
Resene Pale Leaf
Resene Pale Leaf
 

“They all seem to be fresh, clean colours – not murky, not cold, not warm, they just sit in there in the middle. It’s definitely a colour. That’s what people tend to be looking for. Even in the fashion magazines there tends to be lots of colour.”

While Aucklanders have historically picked cooler colours to suit their subtropical environment, Sarah says the tendency at the moment is towards slighter warmer tones.

“Although your greens and blues are still on the cool side of the colour wheel, these greens and blues are not the really cold ones. The blues we’re using have a bit of grey and magenta in them, which warms them up.”

The colours are softer too. “It’s that whole feminine thing. They don’t want a colour that’s wham in your face. They are actually looking for colour now so they can enclose themselves in it.”

That translates through to the neutral palette as well.

“People are tending to look at our whites that have a bit of colour in them, such as Resene Thorndon Cream and Resene Blanc, because they’ve realised that the white whites just don’t give any softness. They can be quite clinical and difficult to live in. Even Resene Eighth Akaroa has quite a lot of colour in it when you compare it to a white. It gives you the impression of having a white canvas but it’s nice and warm.”

Resene Thorndon Cream
Resene Thorndon Cream
Resene Blanc
Resene Blanc
Resene Eighth Akaroa
Resene Eighth Akaroa

Colour is also a hot choice in Sydney, with the trend being for cleaner colours, both in neutrals and strong accents. Clean greys, both warm and cool, are very popular, accented with whites and warmer neutrals like Resene Parchment, Resene Drought and Resene Joss.

Resene Parchment,
Resene Parchment,
Resene Drought
Resene Drought
Resene Joss
Resene Joss

“We have moved beyond the neutrals-only colour schemes,” says Judith Briggs of Colour Consultants Australia in Sydney. “People are less afraid of bright colours. For instance, whites like Resene Alabaster and Resene Barely There and bright accents like Resene Howzat (a spearmint-inspired green) and Resene Spotlight (an over-the-top graphic yellow).”

Resene Alabaster
Resene Alabaster
Resene Barely There
Resene Barely There
Resene Howzat
Resene Howzat
Resene Spotlight
Resene Spotlight

Judith says Sydney interiors are also using pinks, lilacs and mauves (Resene Maverick, Resene Cosmic and Resene Hopbush) as well as burgundies.
“Olive green, such as Resene Woodrush, is also making a comeback as it works well with a range of golden yellows and turquoise.”

Resene Maverick
Resene Maverick
Resene Cosmic
Resene Cosmic
Resene Hopbush
Resene Hopbush
Resene Woodrush
Resene Woodrush

Anne Resplendino of Anne Resplendino Interiors in Sydney agrees that clean colours and colour itself are both trends.

“In one of the last projects I worked on we needed to add some casual chic to a period-style bedroom with modern furniture. Colour was no restriction. We applied a clean white to the walls and on one side wall we applied Resene Double Felix. This is a rich brown that absorbs the light beautifully. All the trims were painted in Resene Bianca. We achieved a crisp, sharp contrast making the furniture stand out with accents of purple, gold and cream.”

Resene Double Felix
Resene Double Felix
Resene Bianca
Resene Bianca

Judith says the choice of cool or warm colours is typically dependent on the aspect of the building and how it fits into its surrounds.

“In urban areas, mid tones or darker colours are more often used as well as white for the dominant colour for larger buildings. Accent colours for urban areas tend to be warmer colours like Resene Havoc and Resene Spotlight.”

Resene Havoc
Resene Havoc
Resene Spotlight
Resene Spotlight

More conservative colours are used for residential and rural areas with greys, like Resene Truffle, Resene Stack, Resene Rakaia, and taupe and beige colours most popular with lighter (Resene Black White, Resene Half Concrete) or darker accent colours (Resene Sepia, Resene Bootleg, Resene Nest Egg).

Resene Truffle
Resene Truffle
Resene Stack
Resene Stack
Resene Rakaia
Resene Rakaia
Resene Black White
Resene Black White
Resene Half Concrete
Resene Half Concrete
         
  Resene Sepia
Resene Sepia
Resene Bootleg
Resene Bootleg
Resene Nest Egg
Resene Nest Egg
 

In coastal areas, the choice is usually cool colours of light neutrals, says Judith, especially whites, with stronger neutrals or more commonly brights as accent colours.

“Blues, especially those like Resene True Blue, Resene Retreat or Resene Optimist, are often used as accents.”

Resene True Blue
Resene True Blue
Resene Retreat
Resene Retreat
Resene Optimist
Resene Optimist

Anne believes that creamy whites such as Resene Bianca and Resene Spanish White will always be popular in Sydney.

Resene Bianca
Resene Bianca
Resene Spanish White
Resene Spanish White

“These colours don’t show too much yellow in them, more greys, and they work very well with the Sydney bright light.”

Further north, Brisbane-based colour consultant Karen Kruisdyk of Kruisdyk Painting Services believes bold colour will be a popular choice for homeowners.

“People will opt for bright, daring, bold choices with the bolder-type occupant using these colours in feature walls and accent pieces,” she says. “There will also be a move towards softer neutrals with more grey undertones such as Resene Black White, Resene Quarter Blanc and Resene Alabaster. These neutral choices work more harmoniously in the home with the bright yellows, oranges or pinks that will be a popular colour choice for the avid home decorator.”

Resene Black White
Resene Black White
Resene Quarter Blanc
Resene Quarter Blanc
Resene Alabaster
Resene Alabaster

While regional factors play a part in how we see colours, there’s still an overlying theme in all areas – more cheerful, tranquil and calming colours in response to the current economic climate.

“I think it’s that whole safety thing of making your house safe,” says Sarah Gregory. “It’s your little paradise when you get there, it’s your little escape. So many offices nowadays are in neutrals that when you get home you want something that’s home.”

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