Close Give Feedback
Resene Paints - home page
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Pinterest Follow us on Instagram Follow us on YouTube

How to add drama with colour

From the Resene decorating blog

For some, a home painted in a calm, beautiful pale palette is an aesthetic to thrive on. As enduring as these light hues are, the pull towards throwing caution to the wind and embracing dramatic colour is hard to ignore for others. Whites, neutrals and lighter shades are serene, but many of us feel the urge to turn up the drama. Walls are ready to up a gear, and drama is where it's at.

A wealth of hues will set a dramatic mood for a home and fresh approaches to using them, creating settings you'd happily get lost in.

A lounge with timber walls stained in moody black

Allow the natural beauty of plywood’s grain to come through using a black timber stain. Frame it with a moody black to envelop the space, accompanying it with earthy hues and fresh white as the perfect foil for these dramatic dark shades.

Plywood wall stained in Resene Colorwood Sheer Black with battens painted in Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene All Black, floor stained in Resene Colorwood Natural, sideboard, coffee table and plant pots in Resene Snow Drift, pendant lamp and vase in Resene Black White, small bud vase (on coffee table) in Resene Quarter Drought and DIY artwork in Resene Okey Dokey (background) with strokes in Resene Half Blanc. Sofa and cushions from Nood, rug from Freedom, jute cushion cover and throw from Citta, circle vase from H&M Home. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

A tranquil blue plaid bedroom

Wake up each day feeling inspired by a statement wall in tranquil blues like this bedroom, softly brought down to earth with gentle browns. Evoking an element of fun, bring unity to the room as a whole with blue accents in varying tones throughout.

Back wall painted in Resene Sea Fog with plaid feature in Resene Indian Ink and Resene Rhino, side wall in Resene Double Sea Fog, fireplace in Resene Indian Ink, bedside tables in Resene Rhino, vases in Resene Indian Ink, Resene Kashmir Blue and Resene Double Sea Fog and planter painted in Resene Double Sea Fog with Resene Kashmir Blue dash paint feature. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick.

Let's start at the beginning – literally – with the entrance to your home, the front door. Repainting your door is a chance to embrace those 'out there' colours that make your heart sing but you may not want around you inside 24/7. On-trend colours that meet their match here are the nostalgic violet-blue tones of Resene Ship Cove or the modest green of Resene Gecko. Let your door colour make a statement contrast against the interior walls of your foyer, with colours such as the cornflower blue of Resene Azure with Resene Gecko or the raisin red of Resene Fahrenheit against Resene Blue Moon.

"The front door is the one area where you can be bold with your colour choice, if that's the darkest black or pop of colour," says Resene Colour Consultant Brooke Calvert. "A high-gloss finish will help to enhance the depth and richness of the colour. When selecting your colour, it's important to consider the surrounding colours and connection through the rest of the home's interior."

Extending this and painting the interior doors and frames throughout your entire home in your chosen dramatic hue is another chance to evoke contrasts with other softer wall colours.

As well as bringing drama to your entrance, how about the on-trend popularity of colour drenching? Celebrate the pure joy of cocoon-like colours in a single swathe of paint. Let this extend past the edges of your walls, onto the trims and ceiling, drenching the space in one colour for an all-encompassing feel. Or coat your ceiling in a shade lighter than your walls. "It's standard practice to select a half or quarter shade to the selected wall colour for the ceiling," says Brooke. "If you are working with a square-stopped ceiling, it is common practice to go with a subtle contrast rather than a high contrast. When there is ceiling coving involved, it allows for more contrast to be used. For example, if your walls are Resene Double Sea Fog you could look at Resene Alabaster for the ceiling. If a statement is what you are looking to achieve, a dark colour or pop of bolder colour can offer something truly unique to a space. This effect works well in a space with lots of height."

"Dark colours for interior spaces are an easy way to add drama and suit most spaces," says Brooke. "Try this look with the walls, door and framework all in the same colour. Select a darker or lighter shade in the same family to contrast on the ceiling. Keeping the whole space in the same shade or tonal effect allows the furniture to pop and create the intended drama!"

Colour drenching can extend to your soft furnishings too and selecting curtains in the same colour as your walls and trims enhances the sense of cosiness. Just remember to have plenty of lamps to boost this comfort factor and ensure the light is plentiful.

A dramatic and moody forest green lounge

Not every move requires a renovation, a simple colour update works wonders as a new lease of life to a room. A deep forest green brings drama to this moody lounge, washing over the wall and mantel together for maximum effect. It contrasts beautifully with the terracotta and yellow bursts of colour that add warmth and character. Wall and fireplace painted in Resene Midnight Moss, floor in Resene Half Fossil, folding screen in Resene Tequila with ‘leading’ in Resene Midnight Moss and coloured ‘stained glass’ painted in Resene Bandicoot, Resene Rob Roy and Resene Lightning Yellow, plant pot in Resene Black Forest, vases in Resene Leather, Resene Rob Roy, Resene Clover, Resene Sushi, Resene Lightning Yellow and Resene Bandicoot, lidded dish in Resene Tequila, painted books in Resene Lightning Yellow, Resene Clover and Resene Rob Roy, votive holder in Resene Lightning Yellow, tealight holder in Resene Rob Roy. Sofa, rug and coffee tables from Freedom, throw from Citta, ‘Play the Game’ tennis poster from Pictorem and green marble tray and black and white grid cushion from H&M Home. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

You can experiment further, lowering the ceiling colour down onto the walls. The result is a hue that covers the ceiling and a strip along the top of your walls.

When choosing a dark, sumptuous shade that guarantees drama and a sense of glamour, use bold shades such as the deep green of Resene Elephant or the warm brown of Resene Digeridoo. For the ultimate cocooning effect, choose off-blacks such as the hot charcoal of Resene Double Foundry or the blackened blue of Resene Indian Ink contrasted with splashes of calming pale green against the latter.

If embracing one colour alone isn't what you had in mind, play around with different shades of your colour, applying them to other parts of the room. One colour can feel too much for some, whereas two similar terracotta colours will provide an element of contrast to a space. Take Resene Chelsea Gem, a caramel brown, coating the walls and trims, while the orange terracotta of Resene Tuscany – a lighter shades – coats the door and furniture. There's enough similarity between the colours to create an impact, and plenty of differences in their shades to bring contrast.

A sense of depth can also be achieved to chic effect with two-tone walls; think a warm, mid-toned brown on the lower half with a light-toned brown on top. Bring unity by coating your dado line and trims and door frame in a zesty colour. What better, low-budget way to use paint to turn an overlooked hallway or room that needs some TLC.

A dark and soothing lounge

Colour drenching is a modern way of using colour, bringing strong impact through painting multiple surfaces in the same colour. The effect is soothing and inviting – the ultimate cocoon-like setting. Walls painted in Resene Monkey, floor in Resene Space Shuttle, tiny vases in Resene Americano and Resene Double Felix, plant stands painted in Resene Kilamanjaro (tall) with pot in Resene Kabul and Resene Americano (short) with pot in Resene Space Shuttle, books in Resene Kabul and Resene Space Shuttle, DIY Artwork in Resene Kilamanjaro (monochrome version) and Resene Monkey and Resene Madison (blue and brown version), vase in Resene Monkey, bowl in Resene Tide, vases painted brown in Resene Felix, Resene Kabul, Resene Americano, Resene Monkey and Resene Space Shuttle, tall plant pot on shelf (with dark plant) in Resene Felix. Sofa and chair from Contempa, brown velvet cushion cover, throws from H&M Home, rug from Freedom, round cushion from Country Road. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Of course, you don't have to look to your walls only to add paint. Framed panels or canvases painted in a bold hue can take a dining room or lounge to another level of fun. A simple, but effective, update, it'll boost the level of joy and visual appeal no end. It may be three canvases of Resene Tuscany lined in a room with walls in Resene Spanish White or the easy green of Resene Spanish Green against walls of deep, dusky Resene Jurassic.

What's key to an interior oozing with drama is its element of surprise or a touch of the unexpected. It might be a thin line of paint bordering your doorframe, bringing a hint of bold colour to a subdued palette – think a thin strip of mauve Resene Wonderland around doorways in yellow Resene Lemon Twist and on walls in Resene Quarter Dutch White.

If you want to add a touch of drama to your space that lacks architectural features to highlight, try painting your walls in a custom design. "This could be soft organic shapes or something a little bolder with a check design in two or more colours of your choice," says Brooke.

Texture has a solid role in creating drama, even in lighter hues. "One of our most popular textured paints is Resene Sandtex as it offers a light texture that resembles a soft Mediterranean effect," says Brooke. "All paint effects, including the special metallic and pearlescent effects, can be used over Resene Sandtex to give an added dimension to the finish. Texture basecoats can also be effective when trying to hide minor surface imperfections."

Ultimately, the dramatic use of colour evokes pure joy in an interior. When the colours chosen come from the heart, it tells the narrative of your home.

August 12, 2022

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

Book a colour consult | Ask a Colour Expert | Ask a Paint Expert

Resene's decorating blog

Paint your home beautiful! Discover the latest decorating trends, tips and colour news.

Previous article
Previous «
Kids bedroom projects you can knock off in a weekend

Return to the blog home page
Blog home

View the latest trends, tips and news

Next article
» Next

Checks, spots and stripes – basic patterns to liven up interiors


Order online now:
Testpots | Paints | Primers and Sealers | Stains | Clears | Accessories

Get inspired Get inspired ! Subscribe      Get saving Get saving ! Apply for a DIY card

Resene Paints Ltd

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask us!

Resene Paints Ltd   –

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Pinterest Follow us on Instagram Follow us on YouTube
Videos on how to paint and stain your house

Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

What's new | Specifiers | Painters | DIYers | Artists | Kids | Sitemap | Home | TOP ⇧