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How to pair paint with wallpaper

From the Resene decorating blog

We all want personality in our homes, where our tastes are reflected in our interiors. Living with wallpaper is one way to do this.

A small-framed section of wallpaper

A small-framed section of wallpaper is enough to catch the eye and bring interest through colour and pattern to this living room. Resene Wallpaper Collection ONB102646290 dictates this room’s décor, its navy background echoed in the painted walls and neutral patterned mirrored in the room’s brass and tangerine accents.

Print, pattern and texture make our walls come alive, from the bedroom to the powder room. It’s a chance to make an impact, creating a soulful, character-oozing space regardless of your colour palette.

Instead of just an accent wall, Resene wallpaper on all four walls brings a sense of cosiness and harmony to a room. We’re swept up in the cocoon-like element it offers. One on-trend technique to accommodate this is to coat your woodwork in a complementary Resene paint colour, instead of white.

Bringing in a paint colour onto your trims and doors is a way to extend the impact of the wallpaper’s palette. This method of coating your woodwork in colour will allow it to either work with your wallpaper or against it, allowing it to pop.

If you have a Resene wallpaper with a subtle pattern and palette, Resene paint can further bring to life your design in a cohesive way. An accent paint colour will evoke a level of edge to a room, meaning the wallpaper alone doesn’t create all the personality. Though the combined duo will make a stylish statement, instantly elevating your interior. It’ll turn a quite pleasant wallpaper into something extraordinary.

When visiting your local Resene ColorShop, you’ll probably find plenty of paint colours that appeal to you, whereas fewer wallpaper styles will. So, which product do you choose first? “Choose wallpaper first, paint second,” says Amy Watkins, Resene Colour Consultant. “There might be only one wallpaper you fall in love with, but there are thousands of paint options.” To that end, you may be wondering how to know which colour in a patterned wallpaper to focus on when matching a paint colour; is it the most dominant colour in the print, the background colour or the colour the eye naturally gravitates to?

Amy says there’s a recommended order to choose your products when pairing wallpaper and paint. “This depends on the level of detail within the pattern as to which part of the wallpaper you pull the paint colour from. For this reason, I always recommend choosing a wallpaper before finalising the paint colour. If it’s a highly detailed wallpaper, then I recommend pulling the paint colour out from the main background colour. If it’s a wallpaper with a large print or pattern, then you can pull a colour from the detail to inspire your Resene paint colour.”

Pairing a light grey-blue door with green wallpaper

Although the light grey-blue on the door and trims in this living room can’t be seen within the wallpaper design, it works beautifully.

Team Resene Wallpaper Collection DGN102287022 with paint colours such as the blue of Resene Gothic or focus in on the small touches of deep green tone with Resene Midnight Moss. Bringing in a dark paint colour will bring a cocoon-like feel to the space, which allows the pattern to double dose on the visual interest.

A green leaf print wallpaper

When using Resene Wallpaper Collection 38720-2 wallpaper go for Resene Surfie Green or Resene Paradise for a cohesive match.

These jade blue-green mirror the dominant leaf colour, but any other colour could have been pulled out, such as pale Resene Ashanti, the yellow of Resene Switched On or even the almost-black yet still green of Resene Palm Green. Brass accents further bring the setting to life.

If you have a plain wallpaper with little pattern, seek out its accent hues that match with the paint. This will bring out the interest in the wallpaper and add personality to the room. It can be more challenging with a plainer wallpaper to select a complementary paint colour, but it’ll be there; it’s a matter of sitting the wallpaper swatch up in a room and glancing over it gradually across a few days until the accent colour makes itself apparent.

Remember that a safe option when selecting a paint colour is to match it with a neutral hue. If you’re choosing the green taupe patterned floral of Resene Wallpaper Collection DGN102287022, you might opt for trims and doors in Resene Botticelli, the pale green of Resene Edgewater or the calming green of Resene Envy. Selecting a soft colour tone of paint lets the wallpaper become the focal point and its own work of art.

A bedroom with leaf print wallpaper

While an inky blue-black on the lower part of the wall – think Resene Blumine or Resene Navigate – draws out one colour of the leaf pattern, the bedlinen speaks to the rust, white and pale green in Resene Wallpaper Collection 833126.

You can either use the exact colour from the wallpaper in the form of paint to create a sleek setting or can you vary it in the form of different shades. “Use the same shade and colour that is in the pattern or choose to vary the hue/depth and shade of the paint colour chosen,” Amy says. “The larger the contrast can often lead to the intensity of the colour changing within the wallpaper.”

When choosing your paint and wallpaper, remember the feel you want to capture in a room; uplifting and vibrant rich brights for a bright living room, or calming and soothing earthy tones for a comforting bedroom.

“By choosing a neutral, the wallpaper remains as its own feature, creating a restful setting, whereas choosing a bold paint colour to go with the wallpaper will change the whole tone and mood of the space,” Amy says.

Of course, a paint colour that contrasts strongly with your chosen wallpaper brings the greatest level of drama, making a strong impact. You can enhance the drama in your room by drawing out a stronger colour in the pattern. You could team Resene Wallpaper Collection 833126, a botanical wallpaper, with paints in Resene Whizz Bang, a rich brick red, and Resene Warrior, a deep dark green.

Amy says a common mistake people make when trying to pair wallpaper with paint is not testing out your potential paint colour on a large scale. It’s best to paint out a large colour swatch of the paint colour on the wall or use an A4 drawdown paint swatch to test it: “It’s important when pairing a paint colour with wallpaper you look at it in a larger size to get a true understanding of how the colour will look en masse. If you just make your final decision from a small colour swatch, you will likely get the wrong depth and hue of the colour you are after.”

Your surrounding furniture should be considered too, as the colours can work with your wallpaper and paint palette, adding the finishing touches to your coherent scheme. Think of how your furniture and flooring will work in with your overall setting and whether their tones pop against or complement your wallpaper and paint colours.

Gone are the days when our walls lacked personality or drama; they’re now a source of soothing or transportive qualities, such as reminding us of favourite destinations or times gone by. With the magical combination of wallpaper and paint, our spaces can be taken to a whole new level.

April 07, 2023

For help choosing wallpapers, colours and paints 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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