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Sugar and spice and all colours nice

From the Resene decorating blog

When we think of sugar colours, we conjure up images of pinks, sweet and appealing by nature. Spicy hues, however, evoke more of an earthy base, leaning towards brown-reds and terracotta.

A moodboard showcasing an uplifting colour palette

Corals meet tangerine and smoky camel in this uplifting colour palette, offset by bright turquoise for an energetic outlook. Background painted in Resene Bianca with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from right to left) Resene Korma, Resene Tuscany, Resene Sand, Resene Wild West and Resene Apple Blossom and bud vase in Resene Apple Blossom. Rug from Flotsam & Jetsam, linen pillowcase from Foxtrot Home and slippers from Blackbird Goods. Project by Gem Adams, image by Wendy Fenwick.

These colours are ideal for cooler rooms that don't get warmed up naturally by the plentiful sun due to their layout facing south.

The soulful, uplifting nature of sugar and spice colours appeals to our senses, whether you adopt them in deep dark tones or lighter versions. "Sugar and spice colours bring warmth, comfort and character to our interiors," says Rebecca Long, a colour expert for Resene. "They are inviting, bring us ease and transform a house into a home."

The common thread throughout this colour palette is the pale earthy base – a far cry from clear, crisp brights. "Sugar and spice hues often have cream, caramel or terracotta undertones," Rebecca says. "They are generally very grounded and either smoked or spicy in nature."

These colours are taking the limelight at a time when we embrace a period that says goodbye to the steel cold flat greys of the past, taking on the opposite approach; warm-based hues hold their attractiveness due to their mild temperament, speaking optimism and joy.

"With a rebellion against steely greys and cool whites, we're seeking further comfort from our homes," Rebecca says." This is the place we seek refuge, so it makes sense for comforting colours such as these sugar and spice shades to enrich our environments.

The key to combining these shades is to allow a contrast between them, which is easy to achieve even if they are light in tone. The dark berry of Resene Yogi or Resene Very Berry holds its own next to pale Resene Summer Rose or Resene Contented. But equally, if you love an all-encompassing pale setting, pair Resene Rice Cake next to the light pink of Resene Sauvignon or the light coral of Resene Cashmere.

Rebecca says her favourite sugar and spices colours include "Resene Dawn Glow, Resene Summer Rose and Resene Savour, which contrast gently with each other and give your home an everlasting beam of early morning sun."

She suggests setting them next to colours outside the sugar and spice realm, complementing them equally. "Pair rich Resene Trek with Resene Soiree and Resene Solitaire for a Neapolitan-inspired delight. With its creamy undertone and hint of orange, Resene Solitaire is a go-to white for sugar and spice schemes."

As many of us may have always stayed safely within the neutral realm, enjoying the serenity of these subtle colours, exploring richer, bolder shades may feel uncomfortable. But the beauty of these sugar and spice hues is that they don't feel too far from the neutral colour palettes, especially the gentle nature of the lighter shades.

A moodboard showcasing soft, pretty and calming colours

Soft, pretty and calming, gentle pale pink meets earthy rose and rattan textiles for a boho aesthetic that works both indoors and out.

Background painted in Resene Triple Merino with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Triple Merino, Resene Ebb, Resene Paper Doll, Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

A moodboard showcasing sugar and spice colours

The beauty of sugar and spice colours is that pale and dark shades harmonise beautifully in the warmth of their shared tones.

Background painted in Resene Eighth Joss with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Cashmere, Resene Black White, Resene Antidote and Resene Sour Dough and vases in Resene Eighth Pavlova (left), Resene Quarter Bison Hide (top) and Resene Mai Tai (right). Scarf from Citta. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

"Sugar and spice colour schemes can easily be built up over time," Rebecca says. "As a simple starting point, use the likes of Resene Half Pearl Lusta throughout your home and offset with rich, warm timbers. Introduce a feature wall of Resene Rebel and pair with honeyed décor and blushed fabrics."

Now the fun part – where to use these colours. Because they look so idyllic in pairs or threes, you can use them in hallways, splitting your walls into a dark shade – Resene Mocha – below and a lighter colour – Resene Cashmere – above.

Think beyond just one room too. Instead, understand how rooms relate to each other. Stand in one room and work out how the neighbouring rooms can be seen; paint your nearby room a soft pink and the room you're standing in in a rich brown, allowing the contrasting shades to shine on their own while also complementing each other. Try the copper-red brown of Resene Scoria in one room, catching glimpses of the neighbouring room's door or walls in dusky Resene Coral Tree. The contrasting effect will leave a dynamic impact.

For a more subtle palette, adopt the same approach but just take it down a notch.

A home interior using sugar and spice shades

Accentuate the sensual nature of sugar and spice shades with natural textiles, such as rattan, and fringed soft furnishings.

Wall painted in Resene Eighth Canterbury Clay, floor in Resene Eighth Joss, lattice in Resene Eighth Pavlova, large pot in Resene Quarter Bison Hide, bedhead in Resene Eighth Joss, ladder in Resene Eighth Joss, window trim in Resene Quarter Villa White, tall vase in Resene Beethoven and DIY artwork in Resene Sour Dough, Resene Wax Flower, Resene Tuscany and Resene Beethoven. Chair from Freedom, lampshade, rug and cushions from Mood Store, scarf from Citta. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

A home interior painted in dusky pink and warm tan tones

Angles and curves meet side by side in artwork and d├ęcor across dusky pink and warm tan tones, bouncing the light with warm undertones and creating visual interest with varied forms.

Back wall painted in Resene Dark Buff, shelf wall in Resene Korma, floor in Resene Eighth Drought, coffee table in Resene Twine, console table in Resene Twine, tall vase in Resene Alpaca, short vase in Resene Gold Coast, DIY artwork in Resene Korma and Resene Gold Coast, ladder in Resene Chelsea Gem, peg stool in Resene Sante Fe, candlesticks in Resene Mai Tai, big bowl in Resene Cod Grey and jug vase in Resene Raptor. Armchair from Contempa. Project by Gem Adams, image by Wendy Fenwick.

"Sugar and spice hues can be used throughout your whole home," Rebecca says. "Wrap your dining room walls in Resene Soiree for an energy boost, introduce Resene Allspice into your lounge with dimmed lighting for a touch of luxury and grace your bedroom walls with Resene Contented for a blissful, dreamy escape."

While these rosy earthy hues provide a sense of ease and delight, there are ways to amp this up further. Add an additional colour, such as a yellow – try the buttery mustard of Resene Sante Fe or Resene Sunflower – by way of a thin, chic strip around the frame of a doorway or window, or along the dado line in a hallway. Look to heritage features too, such as cornices and ceiling roses; these details are petite by nature, but when painted a standout shade can provide ample personality.

Or you might have kitchen walls in a pale earthy pink; for effect, coat your cupboards in a rich terracotta or burgundy to give a contemporary edge, tying in beautifully with your wall colour. Or colour drench your walls in one of your sugar and spice shades, coating your furniture in the accompanying colour.

To add the finishing touches to your room of sugar and spice shades, repeat your colours with soft furnishings throughout the room, layering your pinks and browns for all-round perfection. Bring in rich velvet curtains and cushions that echo your pinks and terracotta in cool rooms for a rich, sumptuous feel, or sheer drapes in a sunny room that extend that feeling of softness while letting the light gently filter in.

These sugar and spice shades are a welcome breath of fresh air in our homes. They bring a sense of optimism and joyfulness to interiors without overpowering them; their softness allows them to make themselves right at home, whatever the room.


Resene Contented

Resene Summer Rose

Resene Dawn Glow

Resene Soiree

Resene Yogi

Resene Savour

Resene Trek

Resene Very Berry

Resene Allspice

October 31, 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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