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The X factor of accents

From the Resene decorating blog

We all know what it feels like to walk into a room that exudes something extra. It shines, oozing an x-factor we can’t quite put our finger on.

The use of accent colours in a home provides such a sensation to a space. It doesn’t mean an interior needs to be overwhelmed in colour, but the simple addition of pieces of colour, used in strategic ways, brings it to life.

A green and grey lounge

A dark cocoon like lounge

Green lounge: Surprise accents in grey on these battens pose a gorgeous counter to the green backdrop. Walls in Resene Waiouru, accent battens in Resene Gravel, floor in Resene Quarter Spanish White, large coffee table in Resene Clover, small coffee table in Resene Gravel, cabinet in Resene Gravel, plant pot in Resene Gravel with design in Resene Waiouru, tray on coffee table painted in Resene Gravel, tall vase (on cabinet) in Resene Black. Other vases and accessories painted in Resene Clover, Resene Dingley, Resene Solitaire, Resene Gravel, Resene Biscotti, Resene Thistle and Resene Highland. Sofa and chair from Contempa, throw and cushions from Shut the Front Door, candle from Kmart, grey cushion from The Warehouse, artwork from Simply Creative. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.  Dark lounge: Texture steps up a notch in this cocoon-like lounge, where battens painted in a dark hue enhance the surrounding walls. Plywood wall stained in Resene Colorwood Sheer Black with battens in Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene All Black, floor in Resene Colorwood Natural, pendant in Resene Black White, sideboard in Resene Snow Drift, coffee table in Resene Bison Hide, large vase in Resene Tequila and small fluted bud vase in Resene Quarter Drought. Sofa, rug and cushions from Nood, vase from H&M Home, loafers from Zara. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

An accent colour in only a fraction of the palette used in a room. It is a complementary hue that is bolder or darker than your existing wall colour, creating contrast and balance in your space.

Whether it’s a jewel blue or a dusty pink, accent colours bring another level or interest into a room. With your accent colour standing out from the rest of the setting, the entire room feels complete.

Little effort is required for maximum impact and visual appeal when using accents. They’ll encourage you to explore how you feel about a colour in your home, without you committing to a whole room. Just think of it as another chance to give your home a little love! Even if it’s just the tiniest pop of colour, if it’s a shade you love consider how seeing this every day will make you happy. After all, it is when we are invigorated by what’s around us that we unwind and recharge the most.

Moodboard with pops of sunny hues

Pops of sunny yellow and rich orange bring immediate sunshine to this blue tonal palette. These bright colours can work as accents on any features such as pendant lights, door trims to alcoves. Background in Resene Spinnaker with A4 drawdown paint swatches (from right to left) in Resene Frozen, Resene Quarter Frozen, Resene Blue Moon, Resene Matisse, Resene Bright Spark, Resene Smoke Tree and Resene Roxy and vases in Resene Fuel Yellow, Resene Frozen and Resene Matisse. Throw from Freedom Furniture, linen pillowcase from Citta, penguin puppet from Toyco, shoes from Kmart. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

Where to apply your accents depends on what you want to emphasise. It might be a focal point that is visible when you walk through your front door, a fireplace, doorway or a tall wall beside a staircase.

In a mundane space, such as a laundry, an immediate lift can be given using contrasting tones. Paint them on a horizon line, doorway or coat hooks, allowing them to bounce out in their statement hue. If you have a window in your laundry, coat its surround in a hue that connects with the vista outside. Rooms such as this, or a guest toilet, are often overlooked spaces, so are well suited to a burst of surprise colour.

Resene Colour Consultant Amy Watkins suggests bringing an accent colour to an entranceway or even a solid front wall at the end of entrance. These ideas are well suited to older houses with long hallways, such as villas or bungalows.

“When it comes to the dining room,” Amy says, “paint the whole room a dark accent colour. If it’s in an open-plan living area, create a feature wall to divide the space. It’s becoming on-trend to paint trims that are darker than your neutral walls too. This means sacrificing your walls, keeping them neutral, to make a statement. The key is to use dark tones that coordinate with your walls, this applies when painting the ceiling too.”

Walls in green against fresh, white trims or architectural features, such as an archway or banister, will resonate beautifully. Touches of sage against a crisp white backdrop look smart and tranquil. Or for the more restrained, a gentle green, such as Resene Peace, paired with off-whites, works perfectly to bring tranquillity and personality for those not drawn to bold paint choices. Tie it in with darker green of Resene Away We Go or Resene Aura. For an extra punch, bring in accents in the pink of Resene Just Dance or the dark green of Resene Waiouru.

Dive into something extra bold. One accent colour that many are drawn to is zesty turquoise against the deep green of Resene Atlas.

A dash of sunny yellow ensure a pop of cheerfulness onto a feature wall within a grey and white room, complementing these shades. But make sure your bold colour doesn’t overwhelm your space.

For a truly modern effect, use one colour throughout a whole house in a different way in each room. Against white walls, paint a pale tone, such as Resene Gull Grey, on the ceiling in one room, the entire lower half of wall in another room, picture frames and window trims in other areas.

A painted floor is a brilliant way to apply a brave accent colour to a home. Neutral walls are ideal to show off such a feature. Try gentle blushes with brown undertones, then apply a rich burgundy or a pop of invigorating yellow.

When adding an accent wall to a white room, the contrast will be intense. Sometimes slightly softer mid-tone shades can work best. If you’re applying an accent to walls in a warm neutral in a light to medium hue, a strong accent can work well as the contrast isn’t extreme. There’s still drama though, but it’s easier on the eye.

Moody and sumptuous tones appeal to many who like to avoid bright accents. A great way to achieve this is by pairing them nearly black accents with walls in blue, purple or burgundy. Try the black of Resene Nero or Resene Armadillo with walls in Resene Schooner or Resene Chelsea Gem. For lighter accents on dark walls, pair with walls in Resene Smooth Operator to ensure beautiful depth and dimension.

A simple and fresh blue and white bedroom

Simple white accents on the wall and décor items turn a plain bedroom into a dynamic space with a fresh, breezy flavour. Wall in Resene Atomic with painted design in Resene Half Concrete, grooved floor in Resene Half Concrete, bedside table in Resene Half Concrete, breakfast tray in Resene Atomic, lidded containers in Resene Half Concrete (tall) and Resene Loblolly (low), rounded vase in Resene Gecko and low dish in Resene Fahrenheit. Bedding from Ezibuy, rug, lamp and cushion from Freedom Furniture, mirror from Briscoes, cushion from Nood, hatched cushion from Kmart, teacup and sugar cellar from H&M Home. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston and image by Wendy Fenwick.

An accent wall doesn’t have to be an entire wall either. You might have a surface covered in photo frames painted in a fuchsia pink or a set of floating shelves in a cheerful turquoise. Both of these give emphasis, adding another dimension, to a room with colour.

For those with a love of pastels, opt for pale baby pink walls with accent in jewel green or light-to-mid-tone greys. Walls in pale pink Resene Ebb and gentle Resene Half Gull Grey complement rich emerald greens that are gaining traction, such as the sharp tones of Resene Sea Green.

Play around with texture too, using a Resene FX Metallic or Resene FX Pearl Shimmer with your chosen accent colour or a limewash effect, using Resene FX Paint Effects Medium. The overall effect is one of movement and warmth in a room.

Accent colours can be lighter than your walls too, such as a mural or shape in the white of Resene Alabaster onto walls in the grey blue of Resene Frozen. Neutrals are just as worthy of creating impact via accent colours. Your chosen colour doesn’t have to be bold.

Of course, in a room with darker walls, you may want to have a feature wall or a curved shape on the wall in a light shade for effect. Try walls in Resene Sakura with an accent shape in Resene Spring Wood. For something bolder, walls in the grey blue of Resene Nepal resonate beautifully with a feature wall in the mid-tone brown of Resene Americano.

You can always try a different tone of the same colour for effect. Try Resene Raine with an accent colour in Resene Pumice. You may want to bring interest to panelling in a room – highlight these in a pop of bright bold yellow – against a green wall, or almost black.

Candy colour lovers will fall for combinations such as walls in the rose pink of Resene Vintage with accent colours in fun-loving purple of Resene Deluge. Embrace the twist of walls in the barely-there-blue of Resene Tranquil or Resene Charlotte with accents in Resene Feijoa or Resene Groovy. Any of these become an instant focal point in your interior, especially when place on a wall behind your bed or toilet.

Blue is a much-loved hue that many of us love to include in our homes. For accents in cornflower blue use Resene Azure against off-white in Resene Bianca, perfect for zoning within a room such as a dressing table area, play area or study nook. Resene Hendrix is an enduring, moody shade of lilac blue that succeeds as an accent colour. Its rich tones evoke calmness, suiting a feature wall in a bedroom against walls in the grey white of Resene White Thunder.

Mood-bursting yellow is a welcoming addition, as it lights up any space. Whether you choose to paint a pendant a canary tone such as Resene Southern Cross, a table lamp base in mustard Resene Laser or table legs in honey tones of Resene Galliano. The smallest touch of yellow will make an interior sing, pair it with grey, white, brown or indigo walls.

Pocketspace Interiors director Laura Heynike says any room is ideal for accents. “There is no hard and fast rule about what spaces should and shouldn’t have pops of vibrants or muted pastels. It’s more about looking at the bigger picture and identifying what you would like your attention to be brought to – those pieces should be accented. This could be a quirky side table, a wall that commands attention with accented wallpaper or paint that ties in some complement styling pieces in the same tone.”

Remember to think about your paint’s sheen level too when choosing your finish. A matte finish, like Resene SpaceCote Flat, will make your colour seem deeper and moodier, while a high gloss finish, such as Resene Enamacryl, will bring out its brightness.

Resene Just Dance

Resene Aura

Resene Peace

Resene Colorwood Sheer Black

Resene Away We Go

February 19, 2021

For more ideas and inspiration for decorating your home, visit your Resene ColorShop or see the latest looks online.

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