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Use colour to create space

From the Resene decorating blog

Remember the days when you had to share a room with a sibling? Inevitably at some point it involved a dividing border of some kind being employed to designate whose space was whose – or someone retreated to building a fort in a corner or in the bottom of the wardrobe.

A serene open office area

The serene colour scheme in this open office area clearly marks out its use. Upper wall painted in Resene Cashmere with the curved lower design in Resene SpaceCote tinted to Resene Nocturnal over two coats of Resene FX Magnetic Magic, desk, shelves, coat rack and lamp in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss enamel tinted to Resene Nocturnal, pencil cup and desk file in Resene Cashmere, rubbish bin in Resene Sepia, painted books in Resene Zeus and Resene Double Cod Grey, cork tealight holder in Resene Rebel, frame in Resene Rebel, decorative vases and bowls in Resene Sepia, Resene Rebel, Resene Zeus, Resene Double Cod Grey, Resene Swiss Coffee and Resene Triple Rice Cake and DIY artwork in Resene Stonewashed and abstract shapes in Resene Cashmere, Resene Nocturnal, Resene Swiss Coffee and Resene Rice Cake. Chair from Mood Store, rug from Freedom. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

Whether we have a large home or a small apartment we all have that natural desire to carve out some space for ourselves whether it’s a study, a studio or just a quiet nook to settle in with a good book.

Creative use of Resene paint, with contrasting shades, shadow effects and bold geometric framing and layers of colour can all help create intimate spaces within larger areas, or give the illusion of more space in a confined area.

Here are some of our favourite ideas for space creation without the construction.

A conversation corner

If you have a large living or gathering area in your home – or just a box shaped room without many architectural features, you can paint it in eye-catching features to create a more intimate space.

Position a couch or armchairs how you want them and let the shape of them guide the shape of the space. Paint a geometric or freehand shape around the walls to frame the furniture and ‘separate’ your cosy space from the rest of the room.

Consider taking that contrasting colour shape across the ceiling and even the floor – if you don’t have carpet. If you do have floor coverings you don't want to paint, think about a rug in a similar tone to your wall colour for a similar effect.

When it comes to colour choice, shades that complement your furniture and contrast with the rest of the room will really make your selected space stand out. If you have neutral Resene Alabaster walls in the rest of the living area, think about a bold corner or geometric frame in Resene Flirt or Resene Mondo.

Or flip the contrast around. If you have dark walls make your colour ‘room’ light and bright. If you have Resene Indian Ink on the walls, furnish your separate space in warm shades of grey and cream such as Resene Atmosphere and Resene Athens Grey so your eye is drawn to the area.

Add to the dramatic effect with lamps or overhead lighting that casts a warm spotlight on your room within a room.

This colour-zone concept can also be an excellent way to make otherwise under-used areas of your home feel inviting. If you have a wide, open landing at the top of your stairs, you could create a cosy library; a luxurious cocktail lounge or simply a second TV/gaming area for teens, all by adopting a fresh colour scheme and using it to define a new area.

A green cohesive sitting area

Tonal layers pull this sitting area together into a cohesive corner. Wall and floor painted in Resene Ravine with a lighter corner block in Resene Pewter, Resene Haven and Resene Harp. Plant pot in Resene Yucca, vases, bowls and smaller accessories in Resene Napa, Resene Yucca, Resene Blue Smoke, Resene Pewter, Resene Ravine, Resene Haven, Resene Pumice, Resene Armadillo, Resene Eagle and Resene Harp, frames in Resene Napa and Resene Duck Egg Blue. Sofa and chair from Freedom, green cushion, patchwork cushion and Hayley Bridgford ceramic vessel from Citta, grey throw (on sofa) and earthenware pot from Allium, artwork from Etsy/Noamaart, rectangle cushion with fringe and dark green cushion from Shut the Front Door. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick.

Faking a foyer

Not all homes or apartments come blessed with grand entranceways – or even a simple space to leave a wet coat and umbrella. With some imaginative use of paint and furnishings it is possible to create a functional ‘fake’ foyer, without taking up too much precious space.

If your front or back door opens to a long hallway, portion off a section up against the door – about 60-75cm if you have it and paint it a different colour, on both walls, as well as around the door and even the ceiling and floor if you choose.

To avoid the hallway feeling truncated, consider using a lighter tone of your hall colour for the foyer space. If you have Resene Quarter Tea on the hallway walls, use Resene Half Tea or Resene Tea on your foyer section. A darker shaded foyer will make your hallway appear lighter and inviting as you walk in the door.

A divided dressing area

Colour choices and textures create practical division of space in this room and makes the whole area appear larger.

Dressing table wall painted in Resene Loblolly with texture created in Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Half Gull Grey, return wall in Resene Sakura with texture in Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Quarter Blanc, floor in Resene Mercury and skirting boards and desk in Resene Snow Drift. Chair from Freedom, lamp from Good Thing, clothing rack and hangers from I’ll Hang it Here, Gideon Bing sculpture from Good Form, rug from Grounded Homeware, artwork by Brenda Clews, arch mirror from Warehouse, curtain from Resene. Project by Melle van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

A shared workspace

Bold geometric design means this shared workspace is cohesive while still marking clear boundaries.

Left wall painted in Resene Raptor, left floor in Resene Neutral Bay with a circle in Resene Blast Grey 3 metallic and left side of the table in Resene Alabaster. Right wall painted in Resene Leather with triangles in Resene Emerge and Resene Rolling Stone, floor in Resene Castle Rock with a circle in Resene Half Washed Green and right side of table in Resene Jaguar. Grey container and headphones hook from Città. Project by Greer Clayton, image by Bryce Carleton.

Add painted coat hooks, a shoe rack and even a narrow console table in similar tones such as Resene Napa or Resene Eighth Tea so the space doesn’t seem too cluttered and is still connected to the rest of the hallway.

For added drama this can be a great opportunity to go bold with your front door colour – Resene Moroccan Spice is a beautiful, warm complement to the Resene Tea range.

This same principle also works if your exterior door opens into the corner of a kitchen or directly into your living room. Paint out a corner near the door in a contrast colour, to create the illusion of a cupboard and add your coat hooks and boot racks as space allows.

Design idea:  If you have the space, a large, tall planter can work well as an umbrella stand. Resene FX Paint Effects are a great way to add some texture and design flair, whether it’s colourwashing, a marbled effect, sponging or adding a splash of metallic. Visit or talk to your Resene Colour Consultant at your local Resene ColorShop to find out how to use paint effects in your own home.

Step into Narnia

The idea of creating rooms within rooms, with paint and design effects can be a brilliant way of adding a little magic escapism to children’s bedrooms.

Paint a border around a corner of the bedroom that takes in the walls, ceiling and floor to create three-dimensional space. That painted border – which could be a simple line, or a beautiful design depending on how artistic you’re feeling – works as the doorway into a different world. Everything on the corner side of that border should be a part of its own world.

A dramatic conversation pit

This dramatic conversation pit is a conversation starter. Walls painted in Resene Smooth Operator with stripes in Resene Mountain Mist, floor in Resene Wafer, peg stools in Resene Mountain Mist and Resene Kalgoorie Sands, plant pot is Resene Rodeo Drive and lampshade in Resene Mountain Mist. Chairs from Dawson & Co, rug from Ivy House, plant pot from Kings Plant Barn, lampshades and peg stools from Freedom. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

It could be a lost dinosaur world with exotic plants in the form of Resene Wallpaper Collection HX7-050 on the walls and scattered with painted stone fossils and toy dinosaurs. Go for an underwater theme, creating a colour washed blue water effect with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Tropical Blue with Resene Bondi Blue and paint on starfish or add mermaids with Resene Boys and Girls 6 Wallpaper Collection 30569-1.

Your options are only limited by your imagination and your kids will love the sense of escaping into their own world. It doesn’t need to be a large space, just enough for a couple of cushions to sit on and some toys.

Painted effects can also help with the debates over what area belongs to who in shared children’s bedrooms. Whether it’s shared study space or play space, creating themed areas can help ensure each child has a space to call their own that reflects their interests.

It can also work to designate individual areas in shared wardrobes, desks or on shelves. It needn’t be a simple dividing line. Use each child’s favourite colours and interests to build a themed design around the dividing lines that keeps everybody happy.

Quick tips trips and tricks

Remember the finishing touches too. Lighting – natural or artificial – is one of your most important tools when it comes to defining spaces. Think about how hotels layer lighting for different use areas and use this to accentuate your colour choices and space.

May 28, 2021

Visit your local Resene ColorShop for expert advice and all the products and accessories you need to make the most of your home.

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