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Decorating down to earth

From the Resene decorating blog

Many of today’s trending tones are rooted in nature.

We’d do well in many areas of life to take notes from Mother Nature, and colours that remind us of her best work are undeniably worthy of our close attention when decorating our home interiors. Earthy tones are warming, welcoming and – as their name suggests – wonderfully grounding. While these hues often contain hints of brown, if you think they sound a bit beigey, think again.

A zen green room

A dark green wall

Zen room: Upper wall in Resene Eagle, lower wall and shoes in Resene Waiouru, timber flooring in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, skirting board and planters in Resene Cut Glass, floor cushion tops in Resene Ottoman and lantern bottoms in Resene Sweet Corn. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.  Cabinet: Wall in Resene Waiouru, cabinet in Resene Gravel, tall vase and tealight holder in Resene Black and other vases and pots in (from left to right) Resene Gravel, Resene Dingley, Resene Highland, Resene Clover, Resene Dingley and Resene Highland (top) and Resene Gravel (base). Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Hawke's Bay-based stylist and curator of homeware store Blackbird Goods Gem Adams is renowned for her skilled use of such colours and says if you believe earthy hues are boring “you may just love brights – no judgement here! Or maybe you haven’t found ‘your’ earth tone. The antidote to boredom is accessing a broad range of neutrals, avoiding flat colours and looking instead for those with more depth.”

As a busy mother, Gem says she’s forever aiming to encourage a calm atmosphere in her household. She finds that as well as fostering a nurturing connection to nature, warm, soothing, muted earth tones help to do just that. “They create mental breathing space, and not being overstimulated can really help your overall wellbeing.”

Natural selection

Homely or sophisticated, depending on which way you play it, these adaptable hues have a down-to-earth appeal that makes them extremely accessible. Along with those soil-and-sand browns, stony greys, burnished oranges, muddied yellows, sea blues and leafy greens also fall into this category of naturally occurring colours, so before you visit your local Resene ColorShop for paint advice, head into the great outdoors to discover what hues you’re drawn to.

Colour combinations inspired by Mother Nature

Look to Mother Nature’s cues for seemingly surprising colour combinations that work together beautifully. Background in Resene Gimblet, leaf plate in Resene Green Smoke, triangular bowl in Resene Deluge and other painted vessels in (clockwise from top left) Resene Marionette, Resene Slate Brown, Resene Valour, Resene Avalanche, Resene Lemon Twist and Resene Double Wheatfield. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

“I’m so inspired by nature,” says Gem. “I’ll find an item outside or take a photo of a scene I love, then search for its colour match against a Resene fandeck or with the free online Resene Colour Palette Generator. I’m always surprised at what pops out.”

Following the lead of sun-kissed French and Italian dwellings that wear this look so well, in terms of current trends, Gem says she’s seeing a resurgence in Tuscan tones, with clay colours having their time in the sun. “I've been enjoying seeing warm terracotta and brick hues used in bedrooms and even bathrooms,” she says. “They’re fun for a cosy outdoor space too, with floor cushions, a fire pit and cacti.”

Dining room inspired by a Greek or Italian trattoria

A landscape-like wall mural

Dining room: Dusty sage greens look lovely when layered together, as demonstrated in this dining room that is inspired by a Greek or Italian trattoria. Wall in Resene Peace, floor in Resene Elderflower with tiles stencilled in Resene Peace, dining table and chairs in Resene Elderflower with dipped legs in Resene New Leaf, coat rack, skirting board and geometric vase in Resene New Leaf, bud vase in Resene Helix and tall vase and pendant lamp in Resene Smoothie. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.  Wall mural: If your space is lacking in windows that look out to the great outdoors, create your own scenic view indoors with a landscape-like mural in (from top to bottom) in Resene Zulu, Resene Antidote, Resene Sorrell Brown and Resene Lone Ranger, wall at right in Resene Half Wood Bark, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, bookshelf in Resene Zulu, plant pots in Resene Sorrell Brown (on books), Resene Merlot and Resene Antidote (on shelves). Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Gem’s current earthy favourites include raw terracotta Resene Tuscany, sun-baked clay Resene Wild West and determined red Resene Raging Bull for on trend looks that communicate cocooning luxury. She says she washed her daughter’s bedroom with light sandalwood Resene Rascal mixed with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium, “for a sweet play on a girlish tone without going full princess”. Try Resene Wafer or Resene Cashmere as other options.

Some of her other top paint picks include olive brown Resene Earthen, mid-toned beige Resene Double Pravda, weathered mink beige Resene Stonewashed, green-edged beige Resene Triple Parchment, smoky grey Resene Tapa, mudbrick and smoky grey beige Resene Napa and grey-brown Resene Greige. Gem says grey beige or ‘greige’ colours like the latter are “especially good in kitchens, and I’m speaking from experience here – Resene Fifty Shades came up a treat at our place. We have a 1910 cottage, so we wanted a modern-traditional feel, and it fit perfectly. Plus, it’s a great shade for hiding marks, so it’s wonderful for a child-friendly home. Greiges can be added to any space you like, really – they’re so versatile. I love greige cabinetry, using it for something fun like a half wall feature or colour block, and for the outside of the house too.” Resene Rakaia, Resene Half Stonewashed and Resene Truffle are particularly popular hues both inside and out that fall into this colour family.

Art Deco inspired wallpaper

Thanks to its earthy hue, the art deco inspired design of Resene Wallpaper Collection 433210 is great at creating visual interest within a neutral colour palette without overwhelming the senses.

A world of ideas

Earth-tone love really is all around, so when sussing out which colours play well together, simply mimic the combinations found in natural settings. Unobtrusive yet inviting, Gem says you can’t beat a good warm white in an earthy scheme. “Lately I've been loving Resene Quarter Spanish White in main living spaces, and for me warm whites also create a lovely feel for hallways, master bedrooms and bathrooms,” says Gem. “Use classics like this and off-white cream Resene Cararra to lighten up your spaces and create a simple backdrop against which you can showcase your homeware. With warm whites, it’s all about bringing in the texture. Concrete, terrazzo, walnut tones, sheepskins, Indian cotton and dried florals work wonders.

“Greige can team beautifully with whites, deep greens and a variety of muddied blues. I love it next to pale timber, brass fixtures, linens and handmade tiles,” she continues. “Terracotta tones work with a range of colours, from sage greens to deep blues, milky whites to hot yellows. They tend to love a good bit of greenery and dried florals, vintage rugs and wood.” For complementary blues, look to serene blue-green Resene Thor, subdued mid-blue Resene Awash and Scandinavian blue Resene Seachange. For greens, consider pastoral Resene Clover, shadowy Resene Cabbage Pont, Spanish moss Resene Edward and greyed Resene Xanadu. Desert orange Resene Ayers Rock and mustard beige Resene Laser are contenders too. Did someone say lasers? Ain't nothing boring about this.

A living room with a nature inspired colour palette

The understated design and colour of Resene Wallpaper Collection 607734 is a natural choice as the backdrop for building a layered, nature-inspired colour palette in a living room.

Top nature tone tips:

Resene Elderflower

Resene Smoothie

Resene Helix

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Earthen

Resene Valour

Resene Peace

Resene New Leaf

July 29, 2020

For more colour and paint ideas and inspiration, visit your local Resene ColorShop or get inspiration from other DIY decorators in the online Resene Inspiration Gallery.

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