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Functional spaces with flair

From the Resene decorating blog

When it comes to functional rooms in our homes, particularly bathrooms, it’s tempting to keep them white-on-white; or least neutral.

A fun and fresh bathroom

Quirky colour combinations make this bathroom feel fun and fresh.

The walls are painted in Resene Longitude and the floor is Resene Midwinter Mist. The vanity and splashback are Resene Juniper, while the monstera hooks are Resene Streetwise. The duckmat is Resene Half Pohutukawa. Project by Melle van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton. Basin and mixer from Plumbline, mirror from Palliser, bathmats and towels from Adairs, basket, soap and sponge from Citta.

Occasionally we might add in some flair such as a glass splashback in our favourite Resene colour, or some coloured tiles, but often we keep things white and shiny. It makes sense. Neutral or monochrome palettes in functional spaces feel clean, tidy and crisp. Bathrooms are also often smaller than other parts of the house so our instinct is to keep them light and bright.

Maybe it’s time we rethink. For one thing, as well as being smaller these spaces are often less open to traffic through the house, making them prime areas for design experimentation and Resene colour!

Start simply

Bathrooms and ensuites, particularly, are spaces crying out for more colour personalisation and style, so their function is balanced with becoming a space to unwind and relax.

Start by thinking about what you need your bathroom to be from a functional perspective, because that will have some impact on your design choices. If, for example, you have just one family bathroom and several children, you might not be able to transform your space into a dreamy spa retreat. But, could you add a backdrop to the bath with an exotic wallpaper design like Resene Wallpaper Collection HX6-003? Or paint a moveable wooden screen in soothing pink Resene Valentine or pastel green Resene Morning Haze to surround the bath and create a zen zone when it’s not being used by the kids?

One way to go about coming up with a bolder, more colourful look for your bathroom is to come up with a theme. Nature is one great place to seek inspiration, that is likely to work for all age groups using the bathroom. You can stick to on-trend earthy greens and browns like Resene Yogi or Resene Tarzan, you could venture into more floral shades like Resene Tropical or Resene Coconut Ice, or be inspired by the sea in blues and teals like Resene Watermark or Resene Rulebreaker.

A soothing blue bathroom

Clever layering of tonally similar colours mean they almost work as a neutral for a bathroom that is both visually interesting and soothing to be in.

The rear wall is painted in Resene Cut Glass with the slatted screen is Resene Half Black White. The floorboards are Resene Raven, Resene Half Raven, Resene Gull Grey, Resene Grey Shadow, Resene Regent Grey, and Resene Kensington Grey. The vanity is Resene Bermuda Grey. The duckmat is Resene Black White and the ladder is Resene Silver Chalice. The two tables are Resene Avalanche. Sink and mixer from Plumbing World, geometric vase from Junk & Disorderly, soap dispenser from Freedom Furniture. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

An outdoor bathroom inspired by the sea

An outdoor bathroom that celebrates the colours of the sea is perfect for a bach or coastal home.

The rear wall of this resort-style bathroom is painted in Resene Green Meets Blue with striped shower backdrop in Resene Nepal and Resene Sea Fog. Breezeblocks are also in Resene Sea Fog. The shower floor and shelf are Resene Woodsman Pitch Black. The mirror frame is Resene Breeze with soap dispenser and hooks in Resene Nepal. The wooden floor is Resene Woodsman Natural. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Floor it

Painting the floor of your bathroom can be another cost-effective way to bring in some bold colour or just an element of design if you prefer to keep to a monochrome look. It’s much faster and cheaper to achieve than new tiles. Try stencilling a painted design in a contrasting colour over your base floor colour for the illusion of a tiled design.

A concrete floor is easy to paint over with Resene Concrete Sealer followed by Resene Walk-on in your chosen shades. It is also possible to paint over tiles, some vinyl flooring and lino – and of course, wooden flooring can be painted or simply stained. A Resene Colorwood Bask finish will give you a lovely beachy finish that will showcase the woodgrain or try a dramatic darker stain with Resene Colorwood Dark Ebony.

A simple black and white checkerboard painted floor in Resene All Black and Resene Black White is another simple way to lend dramatic elegance to a bathroom. Add a punch of red Resene Rudolph or cerise Resene Temptation on a planter or other decor piece to elevate the otherwise monochrome palette.

Get advice from your Resene ColorShop team or ask a Resene Paint Expert free online on the best prep for your type of flooring before painting over it.

Using wallpaper with a dramatic geometric design in your bathroom

The dramatic geometric design of Resene Wallpaper Collection M350-00 gives a bold finish to this modern bathroom while keeping to a monochrome colour scheme. Team with Resene Black or Resene Nero as a dark contrast.

Be bold with colour

The other simple way to get boldness back into your bathroom is, of course, going for a more dramatic colour on the walls. Most of our bathroom fittings, like cabinets, sinks and baths come in neutral colours so think about wall colours that will really make those whites, or off-whites really pop.

If you have really bright whites, similar to Resene Black White, try stormy deeper shades such as Resene Ocean Waves. Slightly more muted shades such as greige Resene Domino or Resene Grape Escape will work well with off-white neutrals such as Resene Quarter Tea or Resene Half Spanish White.

For a subtler colour pop that will still work with your white fittings and fixtures try touches of subtle botanicals like Resene Coriander or Resene Envy. These biophilic greens will work particularly well with on-trend brushed brass or gold tapware.

Other unexpected places to add painted colour in your bathroom could be a painted frame around a built-in bath, bathroom cabinet doors, laundry hampers and bins, clothes hooks and other practical pieces like toothbrush or toilet roll holders. It may just take an item or two in an unexpected colour to transform your room.

Neutrals and monochrome

If you have a minimalist heart and are attached to your white-on-white bathroom – or kitchen or laundry – you could play with different layers of tonal neutrals. Rather than strictly white-on-white, you can play with different shades of cream, bone and subtle beige to create a look that is still sleek and clean, but less visually stark.

Some combinations to experiment with are:

For graduated tonal layers Resene Pearl Lusta is a great warm option as it goes from Resene Eighth Pearl Lusta all the way through to Resene Triple Pearl Lusta. For cool grey-toned layers try starting with Resene White, then Resene Half White Pointer, through to Resene Triple White Pointer.

Of course, simply adding a black, or deep charcoal like Resene Night Magic to a white bathroom for a monochrome finish, is instantly dramatic. Instead of just a few scattered notes of black though consider going bold with a feature wall in the darker shade. This is particularly effective teamed with black or dark tapware.

Ensuites and toilets

Ensuites and toilets or guest bathrooms can be really fun rooms where you can be a bit more adventurous with your style choices, not least because they tend to be small rooms so they’re easy and inexpensive to redo if you change your mind.

It’s also fun to be able to surprise guests with a spare toilet or bathroom that is completely unexpected. Envelope the walls in the ornate florals of Resene Wallpaper Collection 200455 or go for a Japanese theme with Resene Wallpaper Collection 409345. A fun idea for a children’s ensuite or bathroom is the skateboard print of Resene Wallpaper Collection M47803.

Ensuites are the opportunity to create a beautiful retreat space because they tend not to be used by too many different people. Try a layered palette of soft teals such as Resene Infused, Resene Unite and Resene Morning Haze, given a lift with a touch of dark red Resene Pandemonium.

Think about contrast and how the ensuite works with the connecting bedroom. If you have a lighter neutral bedroom, in say, Resene Half Tea, then use a darker contrasting colour on the walls of your ensuite such as Resene Moroccan Spice or Resene Colins Wicket. Add touches of the bolder shade to one or two areas of the connecting room for a cohesive finish.

Ultimately bathrooms are quite personal spaces so they are the perfect canvas for experimenting with your personal style preferences instead of simply sticking to white. The goal should be to create a space that is still functional but is a delight to be in.

Resene Bask

Resene Rulebreaker

Resene Ocean Waves

Resene Morning Haze

Resene Infused

Resene Unite

Resene Watermark

Resene Valentine

Resene Coconut Ice

Resene Rudolph

Resene Grape Escape

Resene Pandemonium

Resene Tropical

Resene Yogi

Resene Tarzan

Resene Temptation

Resene Night Magic

October 10, 2022

For help choosing colours to suit your projects, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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