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The magic of mineral colours

From the Resene decorating blog

Earthy, natural colours have been everywhere in design trends over the past few years.

They’re an understandable favourite as we increasingly look for simpler lifestyles and a strong connection to nature. That trend is evolving again to embrace more complex natural colours inspired by a touch of minerality.

A green-blue hallway featuring accessories with earthy mineral tones

Earthy mineral tones in a range of shades are a natural fit for these balancing rocks and pair well with green-blues in this hallway.

This wall is painted in Resene Welcome and the floor is Resene Colorwood Greywash. The table is Resene Streetwise, the hooks are Resene Papier Mache and the vase is Resene Half Tea with board stained in Resene Colorwood Walnut. The basket is painted in Resene Settlement. The balancing ‘rocks’ are Resene Woodsman Japanese Maple, Resene Woodsman Warm Kwila, Resene Woodsman Riverstone, Resene Woodsman Driftwood, and Resene Woodsman Bark. Throw from Città. Project Shani Luckman. Image Bryce Carleton.

A nature inspired bedroom design

Mineral shades run the spectrum from shimmery golds to sulphuric yellows and deep semi-precious blues that celebrate nature.

This wall is painted in Resene Half Escape, with the line drawing painted in Resene Tangaroa and Resene Cello. The gold vine is Resene FX Gold Dust over a base coat of Resene Apache. The floor is Resene Tangaroa, the bench seat is Resene Cello, the top of the brass table is Resene Colorwood Whitewash and the planters are Resene Cello and Resene Triple Black White. Teapot from Body, bedding from Wallace Cotton. Project by Megan Harrison Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

What that means is earthy shades that offer something a little bit extra, an unexpected tone that gives them a lift; a subtle hint of iridescence or undertone that elevates surroundings.

A good example of how this love of minerality and natural elements is playing out in interiors is to look at the ever-rising popularity of marble-like finishes or engineered stone that features imperfections, veins of mineral and natural colours, and even flecks of shimmer and glitter.

Think of volcanic soils that glimmer with hints of sulphuric yellow, oily darks that shimmer with hints of blue or purple, salt beds that reflect back muted pinks and blues or the iron-filled sands of the Australian outback. Lying between muted browns and creams, and rich jewel colours, mineral colours are shades that represent natural elements and minerals; shades that pack a little extra punch.

ColourHive, a company that tracks and predicts global colour trends, puts our emerging interest in mineral colours, down to a growing awareness of, and concert about, how natural materials are used in modern technology. This awareness is driving us to celebrate these materials in their natural form and colour.

How to use mineral colours

The common mineral – or elemental – colours we know are things like copper and gold, or rose quartz. But there are mineral colours throughout the spectrum from golden toned amber and sulphur, to blue-green malachite, pearlescent moonstone, purple-hued lapis lazuli, deep blue azurite and the organic blacks of jet, obsidian and ebony.

A sun-baked red interior

Sun-baked reds evoke iron-rich desert sands in this sitting room.

Wall painted in Resene Savour with a faux-tiled floor painted in Resene Meringue and Resene Black. The side table is Resene Black and the DIY artworks are painted with Resene Black and Resene Meringue. Vases in Resene Savour, Resene Incarnadine, Resene Black and Resene Solitaire. Sofa from Soren Liv, coffee table from David Shaw, cushions from Adairs. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

A vivid interior inspired by cut agate crystal

Though all-natural and organic in origin, mineral colours can be surprisingly vivid, as in this room inspired by a cut agate crystal.

Right wall painted in Resene Freelance and left wall in Resene Poured Milk. The console table is Resene Deep Teal, with the bench set in Resene Yes Please. The floor is Resene Wishing Well with painted agate feature in Resene Deep Teal, Resene Maestro, Resene Hullabaloo, Resene Blue Chill, Resene Yes Please and Resene Freelance. The umbrella stand, blue crate and coat hanger are Resene Wishing Well and the aqua crate and small vase are Resene Yowza. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

What that means there is a mineral shade to incorporate into almost any colour palette where you want to keep things natural and earthy but with a touch of something special.

Try a classic earthy scheme of tonal warm neutrals in Resene Yuma, Resene Coconut Cream and Resene China Ivory, then warm it up with accents in ochre-tinted Resene Alert Tan for the heat of the Australian desert.

For a maximalist mix of mineral tones try the warm sulphur yellow of Resene Galliano with the carbon black of Resene Blackout or the deep lapis lazuli of Resene Lucky Point, or the more subtle rose quartz of Resene Ebb.

If you want to mix your colour palette for a more tonally matched combination think about the spectacular colour graduations inside a cut geode. Different shades of agate blues for example will be layered within the rocks, often broken up with clear crystalline layers. To recreate a similar effect in your interiors try Resene Resolution Blue, Resene Half Resolution Blue and Resene Float. Add a few small decor touches of cut glass or clear crystal to really make your mineral blues pop.

In nature, the mineral colours that catch our eye are often the ones that are unexpectedly rich in colours we don’t expect to find among the more expected earthy browns and greens. But there are subtler mineral tones to try too, like the subtle pinks in quartz. For a pink room that is more salty than sweet try an tonal scheme anchored by shades like Resene Coral Tree, Resene Awaken, Resene Summer Rose or Resene New York Pink.

Experiment with textures and finishes

Inspired as they are by the natural environment, these mineral tones will also work well in imperfect or textured finishes to celebrate their organic origins. Try them with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium for a limewashed or weathered looking finish.

An interior with muted mineral tones

Textured and matte finishes emphasise the organic nature of more muted mineral tones. Wall and bookshelf painted in Resene Duck Egg Blue, floor stained in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy and the stool is stained in Resene Colorwood Bask. The bench seat is Resene Colorwood Rising Tide, bowl is Resene Green Meets Blue, house decoration is Resene Duck Egg Blue, books on bottom shelf are Resene Gold Coast and Resene Concrete and the wooden vase is finished in Resene Colorwood Rising Tide. Shell balls and coconut tealight holder from Indie Home Collective, printed cushion from Leopold Hall, linen cushion and throw from Adairs, rug from Mocka. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Mineral colours can often look good in a flatter or low sheen finish, but can also pair well with pearlescent finishes that hint at their hidden value.

Resene colour consultant Jill Marsh says Resene FX Pearl Shimmer is a particularly useful product that adds a natural level of shimmer, without going full gloss. “It’s a good way to add interest to a plain, neutral scheme. It can be used as a finish coat over any shade and comes to life when the light hits it.”

She also recommends browsing through the full range of Resene Metallics and Special Effects range, many of which have been inspired by natural minerals and elements. Try shimmering charcoal Resene Basalt, softer grey Resene Pewter, fiery red gold Resene Magma or Resene Bedrock for subtle silvery shimmer.

Find your favourites

A good Google image search is a great help if you’re looking to find mineral-inspired colours. Look for aerial shots of salt flats, volcanoes and geothermal lakes or for close ups of cut open rocks, crystals and geodes. Have your Resene fan decks or colour charts handy and start to refine and curate your unique colour palette, that pays tribute to the unique properties of these natural minerals in a way that will suit your home or project. Or load the photos you have found into the Resene Colour Palette Generator and it will suggest a mineral inspired colour palette to you.

Top tip:  When experimenting with complex shades inspired by minerals and natural elements, be sure to experiment with light – both natural and artificial – to see how it can bring different shades to life by highlighting different tones that make up the finished colour.

Resene Poured Milk

Resene Meringue

Resene Breathe Easy

Resene Rising Tide

Resene Bask

Resene Awaken

Resene Summer Rose

Resene Savour

Resene Incarnadine

Resene Yes Please

Resene Yowza

Resene Welcome

March 16, 2023

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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