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The art of ‘Aah’

From the Resene decorating blog

Accompanied by a relaxing exhale, that’s the blissed-out sound you might feel like making when stepping into a space in which the colours and forms have been configured to convey a tangible air of calm.

The ultimate at-home zen zones also champion the interplay of light and shadow through natural, lamp and candlelight, comfortable furniture on which to unwind, textural furnishings to appeal to your sense of touch, ample storage to eliminate clutter and the sound of only the breeze and birdsong to tune into while you tune out. Make peace at your place with all of the above, plus:

A lounge painted with neutral and earthy tones

Neutrals and earth tones combine together in this room with ease to create a grounding space enhanced by organic forms, natural materials and tactile textures.

Wall and ledge in Resene Copyrite; floor in Resene Colorwood Natural, vases, bowls and painted books in Resene Sugar Loaf, Resene Alpaca, Resene Half Rickshaw, Resene Castle Rock, Resene Tuscany, Resene Chelsea Gem and Resene Raptor, pendant light in Resene Umber White and side table in Resene Sugar Loaf. Sofa, table and cushions from Città, rug from Freedom. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

A calming tonal blue bedroom

This bedroom takes a tonal approach to getting the blues, teaming several harmonious strengths and shades for a very serene scene.

Wall in Resene Breathless (top) and Resene Duck Egg Blue, skirting board in Resene Breathless, floor in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy, pendant light in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, bedside table in Resene Half Duck Egg Blue, bedside light in Resene Half Villa White, bench seat in Resene Duck Egg Blue, vases, books and other décor items in Resene Duck Egg Blue, Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue, Resene Half Inside Back, Resene Emerge, Resene Half Emerge, Resene Designer White and Resene Villa White. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

Work with a neutral palette

Resene colour consultant Amy Watkins says, “When creating a zen space, neutral, natural and earth tones come into their own. Colours like peppermint off-white Resene Ottoman, cream-beige Resene Blank Canvas and yellow-green Resene Zen are light with the same dusty undertones that create a calm feeling. Paint your trims the same colour as your walls for a minimalist effect or pair these wall colours with a soft, warm off-white, such as Resene Bianca or Resene Rice Cake.”

The ultimate neutral, white, is known for its ‘Aah’-inducing qualities, and variations of the same shade will stop it seeming cold and clinical while producing a unified result. For example, try combining the different strengths of complex off-white Resene Merino, which range from Triple and Double to Half and Quarter. Steer towards warm and away from washed out in your zen zone by pairing a neutral wall colour like pale yellow cream Resene Creme De La Creme with a cream-based white such as starchy-white-with-a-touch-of-yellow Resene Half Rice Cake or almost-white, nearly-cream Resene Quarter Bianca, to maintain depth while preventing your hero hue from looking too strong.

“To help you determine which colours work well together, Resene provides you with a helping hand,” says Amy. “On the back of each Resene colour swatch, there are complementary colour suggestions, giving you a cheat sheet. To understand undertones, I also recommend looking at the colours around it on the colour swatch. Again, this guides you as to what base undertones each of the colours has.” For the lightest colours, place a piece of white printer paper underneath – this will help you to see the colour’s undertone.

A lounge painted with calming colours - painted organic shapes

Get creative with calming colours by using them against a neutral backdrop to make shapes that soothe. Our curvaceous forms are reminiscent of a cloud in the sky, the contour of a wave, and a watery puddle that adds visual comfort to a painted floor, doubling as a ‘rug’.

Left wall in Resene Oilskin, back wall in Resene Half Athens Grey with shape in Resene Quarter Perfect Taupe, artwork in Resene Quarter Perfect Taupe, Resene Atomic, Resene Oilskin and Resene Quarter Delta, headboard in Resene Colorwood Riverstone; shelf in Resene Quarter Perfect Taupe; bud vase in Resene Atomic, floor in Resene Quarter Delta with shape in Resene Atomic, stool in Resene Quarter Perfect Taupe and tray in Resene Oilskin. Sofa bed from Nood, Ikea pendant lights and stool from Urban Sales. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

A minimalist interior with a mandala mural

This room’s minimalist backdrop is beautified by a mandala mural – a geometric design that’s a traditional tool for meditation and prayer. Achieve a similar look with wallpaper from Resene’s extensive range, or replicate our paint picks.

Wall in Resene Wan White, mandala in Resene Thor, floor in Resene Colorwood Greywash, bench seat in Resene Half Inside Back, chairs in Resene Dark Slate, table in Resene Half Duck Egg Blue, pendant light in Resene Quarter Wan White. Project by Annick Larkin, art by Hannah Tapner, image by Bryce Carleton.

Combine other soothing colours

Earth, fire, water, wood and metal – the five elements of zen collaborate to balance an environment and can be incorporated into your relaxation room. Beyond neutral and earth tones, how about using colour to trigger the blue mind – the semi-meditative mental state the brain falls into when we’re in the presence of water? Described as ‘a walk in water or mist’, Resene Half Escape could be a key contender, as could tidal Resene Retreat or coastal Resene Half Kumutoto.

Green too is ripe for the picking when it comes to keeping the peace. Mirror the plants outside your window with paints reminiscent of native bush, such as mild olive Resene Highball, earthy neutral Resene Gingko and mustard green Resene Iko Iko. Ample indoor greenery will further bring the outside in, as will textiles made from natural materials like cotton, linen, wool, rattan and timber. “In my own bedroom, I wanted a soft colour to create a zen space,” says Amy. “I achieved this with yellow-based green Resene Elixir on the walls to contrast against the rimu floor and the blush pink linen.”

She also suggests introducing a pop of fiery colour for balance. “Resene Duck Egg Blue, a pale shell blue, and Resene Timeless, a silvery grey-green, are both are cooler, muted colours, but pair them with a pop of Resene Tequila Sunrise, a paint colour cocktail of orange and gold, or Resene Wild Thing, a bright yellow gold, and you’ll bring in some warmth and light. I recommend tying in these accent colours with cushions, artworks or rugs.”

Be bold to keep things cosy

Deeper hues can set a cocooning, introspective mood. “Dining rooms and formal living rooms are great spaces in which to go bold,” says Amy. “Resene Dawn Glow, a warm orange with a hint of morning sun, Resene See The Light, a mild mustard gold, Resene Incarnadine, dying embers meet pinot noir, Resene Grape Escape, ashen red violet, Resene Wabi Sabi, a mid-toned green and Resene Forty Six, a warm, shaded green, are all from our latest Resene The Range fashion colour collection and are great examples of richer tones that can create a restful atmosphere.” These colours could be used on a single feature wall or all four for an immersive experience.

Bursts of brighter colour against a neutral background can also be atmospheric. Including them in the form of organic shapes is ideal in a zen zone, as the gentle curves feel welcoming while adding interest to an otherwise plain palette.

Consider your finishing touches

The final flourish to amplify the vibe could be adding a relevant design to a feature wall. Look to the Japanese-garden-esque design of Resene Wallpaper Collection 542141, the tranquil roses of Resene Wallpaper Collection 200457, the sun rising over the hills in Resene Wallpaper Collection ONB102726002 or the quiet cloud formations of Resene Wallpaper Collection 296104.

On the remaining walls, note that a less-glossy paint finish is advantageous to reduce the amount of glare that’s reflected. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen or Resene SpaceCote Flat will let there be the optimal level of light.

Once you’ve picked your finish, take Amy’s expert tip for foolproof DIY painting so the process of creating your zen space is as enjoyable as the result. “Set aside the time you need and make sure you do your preparation, such as masking with tape and laying out a drop sheet to reduce the risk of issues and stress. Put on some music to keep the atmosphere upbeat, and above all, don’t rush!” Starting slowly and calmly as we mean to continue – we like the sound of that.

Resene Creme De La Creme

Resene Breathe Easy

Resene Timeless

Resene See The Light

Resene Dawn Glow

Resene Tequila Sunrise

Resene Wabi Sabi

Resene Grape Escape

Resene Forty Six

Resene Incarnadine

March 21, 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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