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Put your own spin on classic colour combos

From the Resene decorating blog

For novice decorators feeling nervous about their colour choices, or those who are after a timeless looking interior, classic colour combinations can be a good place to start when it comes to a room makeover.

Classic colour combinations have usually become classic because they’re versatile, working with lots of different design styles, as well as room shapes, sizes and functions – they just look good.

A Mondrian inspired bathroom

This crisp bathroom with its Mondrian style shapes and colours contrasting with a monochrome background is a modern masterpiece.

Wall painted in Resene Eighth Black White with a grid in Resene Blackjack and colour blocks in Resene Jalapeno (red), Resene Aviator (blue) and Resene Galliano (yellow). The timber floorboards are finished in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash. Shelf in Resene Blackjack and towel ladder in Resene Quarter Surrender. Bath from Plumbing World, Resene Palazzo Towels from Briscoes. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

A charcoal bedroom with magneta accents

Magenta accents and charcoal make for a dramatic, moody spin on classic pink and grey.

Bedroom walls painted in Resene Quarter Bokara Grey, floor in Resene Eighth Bokara Grey, cane headboard and side table in Resene Virtuoso, pendant light and ladder in Resene Ethereal, slender vase, tealight and hex wall planter in Resene Dreamtime and cork tealight holder in Resene Rebel. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins. Duvet and small plum and medium pink cushions from H&M Home, waffle euro, grey throw and Cushion from Allium Interiors, robe from Ezibuy, chair from Early Settler, tote bag from Citta, wrapping paper used as framed art from Father Rabbit.

Classic need not mean boring and unimaginative. After all, a well-tested pairing like pink and grey doesn’t mean only one shade of pink and one shade of grey. There is plenty of room to express yourself with different shades and colour intensities, as well as your own belongings.

When you have started with a classic palette of one or two colours in your room, you’ll often find choosing other colour accents will be easier, and you’ll have more confidence because you’ll be able to see what works.

A classic colour palette in 90% of your space also allows you to play with on-trend colours as they come and go, adding them in furnishings and accents, which are easy and inexpensive to replace the trends change.

Quick tip: To avoid having to completely refurnish, choose your classic palette based on what works with the key pieces of furniture and the furnishings you already have. If you choose your bedroom colour first, then realise none of your linen, curtains or cushions match, it can get expensive.

Here are some classic combinations to try:

Black and white

Often referred to as a monochrome palette, there’s nothing more timeless than a black and white interior. It makes a fantastic base for any space that you can bring to life with other accents, whether it’s natural fibres, plus texture like silk or velvet, metallics or bold bright accent colours.

If you’re wanting to use a third accent colour, your options are endless really. There’s not much black and white doesn’t work with. A bright pop of turquoise like Resene Pelorous will look dramatic and modern, or warm up the finished effect with a splash of burnt orange Resene Twizel or soothe the sense with more muted Resene Permanent Green.

White on white is another version of monochrome that never goes out of style. The trick is choosing your whites carefully, playing with tones and paying attention to the light – natural and artificial. Add a little texture with bold bursts of contrast and your white interiors can go from chilly and harsh, to warm and filled with personality.

If bold black and white seems too stark, put a more muted spin on the combination with deep charcoal Resene Element and milky white like Resene Half Merino.

A sitting area painted with multiple shades of grey

Shades of grey put a very elegant spin on a classic black and white monochrome look to create a space that would be right at home in film noir.

Walls painted in Resene Half Stack with a circle feature in Resene Surrender, floor in Resene Silver Chalice, console and small bowl in Resene Half Grey Friars and tall vase in Resene Blackjack. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick.

A serene sitting area painted in botanical green

Botanical greens and neutral touches create a serene sitting area.

Upper wall painted in Resene Eagle, lower wall in Resene Waiouru, floor finished in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, skirting board in Resene Ottoman, planters in Resene Cut Glass, round rattan cushion tops in Resene Eagle, paper lantern bottoms in Resene Sweet Corn and shoes in Resene Waiouru. Pouf from Nood, rug from The Ivy House, lanterns from Trade Aid, teapot from Everyday Need, Hukanui Photographic artwork by Rakai Karaitiana from endemicworld, mugs and book from An Astute Assembly. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Primary colours: red, blue and yellow

Primary colours are the colours of pop art which makes them fun to play with in creative spaces like kids bedrooms and studios or offices. They also pop well against bright whites so it can be fun to experiment with them in kitchens and bathrooms against glossy white tiles and appliances. Add some black trim and you have your own in-house Mondrian inspired design.

For a softer effect go for muted versions of the classic primaries. Try Resene Pohutukawa red with mustard-toned Resene Putty yellow and moody grey-hued blue like Resene Bali Hai.

Red, white and blue

It might seem a bit too cheesy at first thought, but red, white and blue can make for a really vibrant, fresh colour scheme. To avoid a brash ‘fourth of July’ vibe, play with the intensity of colours and opt for warm toned reds and blues, and creamy, matte whites like Resene Merino. Play with textures as well – add in natural wood features and soft furnishings to keep the look soft and relaxed. You could even go for stained wood finishes in Resene Colorwood Apollo Blue or Resene Colorwood Red Pepper to keep those classic colours without them overwhelming the room.

A classic sea blue like Resene Bondi Blue, with a crisp white like Resene Alabaster can be the basis for a classic Hamptons style, beachy look. Pair with plenty of natural wood and add a 10% finishing touch of a deeper red such as Resene Red Oxide to bring it all together.

If you want to apply the same principles of a red, white and blue combination with a modern twist, how about navy Resene Prussian Blue with soft Resene Sea Fog neutral and a burst of orange-hued Resene Rich Gold.

Green and neutrals

The colours of nature are always a popular classic, whether you’re looking for relaxed bachy style or refined elegance. Follow the trend for muted, zen-like shades by mixing soft greens like Resene Coriander or Resene Thistle with pale greige Resene Titania.

For a fresh, bright look, pair spring greens like Resene Norway or Resene Spring Green with whites or pale creams and use wooden accents as your third colour, with plenty of natural textures like rattan or hessian or timber stained with Resene Colorwood.

Natural combinations can still be glamorous though, just go bolder and deeper with your colour choices. Try Resene Celtic walls with highlights in Resene Pavlova and trim in Resene Bianca, for a dramatic, stylish space, Add touches of gold to really bring the glamour.

Quick tip: If you’re focusing on a mix of two colours, don’t be tempted to try and use them in equal amounts; they’ll end up competing. Instead choose one as your main colour and use the other as secondary highlights. The simplest combo to work with is often three colours – using your main colour in 60% of the space, a second colour in 30% with an accent colour in 10%.

Other classics to try:

Green and yellow – to keep it going too sporty opt for khaki tones such as Resene Flax with pale golds such as Resene Butter.

Pink and green – this delightful combination has so many possibilities, from muted botanical tones to fresh spring colours or fun candy colours. For soft modern pastels try Resene Soothe and Resene Spanish Green, or go loud with Resene Cranberry and Resene Limeade.

Pink and grey – Modernise this 80s favourite by moving from cutesy baby shades to moodier muted shades. Try coral pink Resene Shilo with deep, blue-tinted Resene Charade.

When you’re not sure where to start, the Resene Classic Collection colour chart gathers together some of Resene’s most popular colours along with customer favourite whites and neutrals to get you started.

Resene Dreamtime

Resene Ethereal

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Eighth Bokara Grey

Resene Virtuoso

September 14, 2021

Order your free colour chart online or visit your local Resene ColorShop to pick up a copy.

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