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Diving into total drama

From the Resene decorating blog

Opting for a deep paint colour can be just the think you need to take a boring space from drab to dramatic. Are you brave enough to take the plunge?

A bathroom with a terrazzo tile effect

A selection of deep and dramatic blues can make a strong and stylish statement in a bathroom. Resene Alpaca, Resene Tom Tom and Resene Urbane were used to create the ‘terrazzo tile’ effect over a base wall colour of Resene. Floor in Resene Mercury, left wall, vanity and large coat peg in Resene Tangaroa and right wall and ladder in Resene High Tide. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Dark walls are a popular and dramatic design choice – both inside and out – but there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account, such as lighting and gloss finish levels before you decide to cross to the dark side. Practicalities aside, there is also a certain amount of bravery required before you take the dive into a dramatic wall colour like black, charcoal or midnight blue. But with the right confidence, the result will be unquestionably sophisticated and stylish.

Dark colours for interior spaces may seem daunting, but with a bit of Resene know how it is incredibly easy to incorporate dark shades into almost any decor. If nervous, stylist Annick Larkin suggests trying a dark palette in a small room first, such as a powder room, laundry, entryway or office. “You can soften the impact by contrasting dark wall colours such as Resene Bunting, Resene Coffee Bean or Resene Baltic Sea by balancing them out with liberal amounts of a lighter neutral. I paint out everything, window frames, cornices, skirting boards and ceilings so that furnishings magically stand out and add that ‘wow factor’ to the room that you’re after,” says Annick. “Even if you are not ready for full-on dark walls, you can always experiment with black cabinetry, dark interior doors and accents to add drama and dimension to your space.”

One of the richest, most neutral blacks in the Resene palette is Resene Nero. This deep, bold hue is void of any undertones and pairs beautifully with nearly every shade. It is a stunning colour choice for bedroom accent walls or living spaces and makes a statement no matter what room it is used in. A black paint with a hint of a blue undertone, such as Resene Indian Ink, Resene Jaguar or Resene Blue Bark, is a great way to add depth to your space without it feeling too stark or cold. “These colours pair well with lighter blues, greens and metallics; and are perfect for living spaces or entryways where you want to add a lot of dimension, intrigue and glamour”, explains interior designer Emma Wallace. Grey-blacks such as Resene Bastille, Resene Shark and Resene Gumboot are a great alternative to rich blacks and are the best option for rooms where you want to create the sensation of a warm and airy cocoon. “Dark grey walls are the prefect hue for creating snug, cosy and intimate spaces,” says Emma.

It is, in fact, a myth that dark colours are unfit for small spaces. However, it is important that you up the lighting when going dark. You will find that you get more shadows and corners blurring into darkness. “This is a good thing, as it can add depth and mystery to a room, but without added lighting, dark spaces can start to feel gloomy and oppressive. Table lights, from experience, give the most atmospheric glow and there are tons on the market from the high street to the flea to the super expensive,” explains Annick.

Outdoor space in slate charcoal

Room painted in dark jewel tones

Outdoor space: Resene Porter, which is painting on this wall, is a slate charcoal that doesn’t come across as strongly as a true black, making it an easier choice to live with. Chair, large plant pot and smallest plant pot (pair) in Resene She’ll Be Right, medium plant pots in Resene Cleopatra and Resene Away We Go and screen in Resene Woodsman Light Greywash. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.  Indoor space: Rather than going for a true black, a dark jewel tone can offer a different level of interest while still bringing the drama. Wall in Resene Atlas, skirting board in Resene Indian Ink, timber floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, tray in Resene Yowza and vases in Resene Meditation, Resene Kandinsky and Resene Poured Milk. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

Unless your walls are freshly skimmed, choosing a topcoat in a gloss finish for your dark coloured room can cause each and every imperfection to show – and likely drive you crazy. Instead, choose a matte finish such as Resene SpaceCote Flat, which looks and feels super luxurious. “It’s almost like having velvet on the walls,” says Annick. For those that prefer a little bounce of light, opt for Resene Room Velvet Low Sheen enamel instead.

Adding colour to your dark space is easy. “You don’t have to overdo it,” explains Emma, “Fresh green foliage, a beautiful vase, a shot of colour in your cushions and some wall art – it all works to enhance your space and give a room texture and interest.” Depending on the type of room and the mood you’re trying to create, adding elements of glass and metallics can add to the luxuriousness of the space, as can textiles like velvet or satin. Try Resene Proton, Resene Gold Dust or Resene Rose Gold from the Resene FX Metallics collection to add a bit of sparkle to your space through smaller painted objects and accessories.

When it comes to choosing a dark paint colour for the exterior of your home, you can’t really pick a more striking hue than Resene Foundry – it pops against greenery because of the contrast in tones; and it will definitely make your house stand out against others on your street. “Resene Lumbersider is a great choice of finish for older weatherboards as it will help to hide any imperfections, however if the timber is in good condition try using a semi-gloss finish such as Resene Sonyx 101 semi-gloss to really highlight your home’s architecture,” says Annick.

An inky blue batten wall

An inky blue batten wall in Resene Indian Ink makes for an elegant backdrop for a rich and dramatic tonal colour palette. Floor in Resene Colorwood Crowshead and tabletop and bowl in Resene King Tide. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Dark exterior colours choices such as Resene Cod Grey and Resene Ironsand can do an amazingly effective job of camouflaging odd or unappealing architectural features. “An exterior paint job certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot more cost effective than construction – at least in most cases – to correct an architectural eyesore,” explains Emma. Just be sure to do a proper job of prepping the surface first, no matter what colour you land on.

There are a few drawbacks to going to the dark side, however. In general, darker colours also tend to fade faster than lighter colours due to their absorption of heat. This may mean you find yourself having to touch up your exterior paint job more than the average homeowner. There are several Resene product options to help with fade and stress on the substrate from heat absorption. Outside, choosing a Resene CoolColour formula will look the same as a standard colour, but surface heat will build up slower and to a significantly lower level than a 'not so cool' traditional colour. Additionally, to help the longevity of your exterior paint, Resene Clearcoat UVS is specially formulated with UV absorbers to filter out harmful UV light and protect the underlying coloured coats.

If you are looking for a truly ‘black-black’ look indoors, be prepared for a potential let-down. Due to the nature of sunlight in our part of the world, many blacks can end up looking greyed. Resene All Black, Resene Blackjack and Resene Black are likely your best colour options, but at the end of the day, it’ll depend on the number and size of your windows and the direction your room faces for how the colour ends up looking when you put it on your walls. Be sure to try before you buy and pick up a Resene testpot in your chosen hue and test it out on an A2 size card, leaving a border around the edges. Then, move the card around the room at different times of the day and evening to check how it looks before you commit.

If your first choice ends up looking grey, try a different hue in a deep undertone instead such as Resene Aubergine or Resene Dark Knight. Or lean into it and go for gorgeous grey like Resene Armadillo or Resene Tuna instead. These hues will all still bring the drama you’re after, but with a bit of extra character thanks to their unique undertones.

Resene Poured Milk

Resene Woodsman Light Greywash

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Rose Gold

Resene Meditation

Resene Away We Go

Resene Yowza

Resene Cleopatra

Resene King Tide

Resene Porter

June 28, 2020

Visit your local Resene ColorShop for more colour ideas and all the expert advice and products you need for a superb finish on all your decorating projects.

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