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Stylish ways to theme a room

From the Resene decorating blog

Choosing a theme for your room, when planning an interior design, can be a very effective way to start building a cohesive finish.

A mid-century modern inspired living area

Clean lines, a simple, muted colour palette and elegant design touches bring this mid-century modern inspired living area right up to date. The geometric design on the back wall is painted in Resene Robin Egg Blue, Resene Half Robin Egg Blue, Resene Quarter Robin Egg Blue and Resene Smoky Green. The left side wall is painted in Quarter Robin Egg Blue while the floor is in Resene Half Robin Egg Blue. On the table the vases are Resene Smoky Green (left) and Resene Quarter Robin Egg Blue. Sofa, cushion, coffee table and bird are Nood, light fitting candleholders and tapers are Good Form, rug from Freedom, chair from Mood Store. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

Have a theme to guide your choices, can help simplify the colours you choose, the furniture you want, and patterns to play with.

The trick with themes is to know when to stop, and how to incorporate your own sense of style into them so they become an authentic reflection of what you love, rather than something that feels cliched or a pastiche.

As with most design decisions, it all comes down to working out what you love!

Getting started

Resene Colour Consultant Amy Watkins says the key to executing a successful theme in your interior is knowing when to hold back, and how to introduce a hint of a secondary style, so your room doesn’t just mimic something else.

“Say you are wanting a Hamptons look with fresh off-whites like Resene Quarter Rice Cake with pops of blue like Resene Coast. Bringing in some rustic natural tones in the form of a rug, throw or lamp, will avoid the space feeling over-styled”.

Resene Colour Expert Meryl Southey’s advice for embracing a theme for any room is to consider not just how the space will look but how you want it to feel, and to make sure the room includes colours and items you love.

“The things you notice and are drawn to will help you decide what style elements should stay or go in any room. By letting those things drive your design you can create a themed room that is still authentic to you as well as aesthetically pleasing.

“Discovering your own design style is always a pleasure and will bring something unique to a themed design.”

Successfully creating a theme can come down to finding a balance between what has made a theme iconic or popular in the first place, and executing it in a way that reflects both you and your home.

Wallpaper that recalls classic Japanese artworks

The right wallpaper can instantly lay the foundations of a themed space. Resene Wallpaper Collection 296487 recalls classic Japanese artworks to set this space in a particular place and time.

Pair it with wood stained in Resene Colorwood Japanese Maple and give walls a textured, weathered look finish with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Alabaster.

A Mediterranean-style courtyard

Travel destinations can be fantastic theme inspirations.

This Mediterranean-style courtyard is a great example of simple, liveable luxury that’s easy to create at home and transports us to another place and time without feeling like a simple imitation of the original. It’s achieved with the illusion of limestone walls using Resene FX Paint Effects Medium with layers of Resene Half Canterbury Clay, Resene Eighth Canterbury Clay and Resene Double Spanish White. The shutters and windowsill are Resene Kangaroo and the faux cobbled patio is painted in Resene Half Canterbury Clay, Resene Eighth Canterbury Clay, Resene Double Spanish White, Resene Blanc and Resene Half Spanish White. The large pot is Resene FX Faux Rust Effect. Table and chairs from Jardin. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

For example, the Hamptons theme is built on a navy blue and bright white colour palette with natural stained wood finishes, and often, some accent notes of red. The nautical, coastal nature of the theme can often slip into cliche with anchor motifs or sailboats and driftwood sculptures. Think instead about how the broader coastal or beachy nature of the theme will work with your own home, whether it is beside the sea or not.

Would flaxy greens like Resene Gondwana work better than a deep blue, paired with classic warm red in Resene Pohutukawa? You could play with the wood tones with weathered finishes in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy.

Meryl says there are some basic principles that you can combine with current design trends to help you find your unique design ‘voice’ and the balance between your style and the theme you’re trying to achieve.

Some of those basic principles include things like keeping to all-cool or all-warm colours in your colour palette, keeping your furniture and decor pieces in proportion, having unifying colours or motifs through the space to keep it cohesive, thinking about how the light plays in a space and considering how the room is used as well as how it looks.

“One room rarely encompasses one design style,” Meryl says. “Most rooms are typically more eclectic than that. Successful designs always adopt the principles of balance, proportion and scale to create harmony. The trick is to define a look, which is very much still your own.”

Think about function

What you use your space for and where it is located should also be taken into account when making design decisions for your theme. If, for example, you live in a cooler climate and you are decorating a darker room on the south side of the house that you use as your home office, a coastal theme with cool deep blues and breezy neutrals may not make the best design choice.

It could feel too cold and uninviting to sit in for any length of time, particularly on a cold day. Instead thinking about colours that perhaps still invoke relaxing holidays but that are filled with warmth and light. Try sunbaked desert shades like Resene Hot August, Resene Cumin and Resene Sante Fe with a note of palm green Resene Swamp and warm cream Resene Pearl Lusta.

For a family room, that will be used by multiple different people for many different things, a moody opulent luxe theme may not be the right thing. Try evolving the idea into a more practical theme such as art deco or mid-century modern, that still allows for plush finishes, warm jewel colours and architectural motifs that may be adapted for everyday use.

An Art Deco inspired office space

The repetition of curves and arches work as a theme for this office space that hints at Art Deco design while staying modern, fresh and unique. The wall background colour is Resene Rice Cake with central circle painted in Resene FX Magnetic Magic with a topcoat of Resene Thunderbird. Additional mural colours are Resene Arriba, Resene Yogi, Resene Contented, Resene Transition and Resene Valentine. The desk is Resene Rewilding, the chair and planter are Resene Solitaire, the small planter is Resene Thunderbird and the floor is Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

Theme ideas to try

It’s a smart idea to go quite broad with your theme so you have more scope to personalise it to your own tastes and requirements.

For example, a strictly ‘Bridgerton’ theme might tie you into certain floral designs or delicate colour ways, whereas a more broad ‘stately home’ theme can free you up to explore different finishes and colour schemes while still experimenting with features like high-back chairs, velvet finishes and luxury Resene wallpapers.

It’s worth noting that you can approach themes differently too for children’s rooms and adult rooms. When you work with a theme in a children’s room you can keep things to quite a singular focus, such as superheroes, unicorns or dinosaurs, depending on your children’s current interests. With adult rooms – or those used by the whole family – you want to think broader.

As an adult you might still be passionate about a particular pop culture icon or even a place that you want your design to pay tribute to. The way to do that in a more sophisticated way is to look beyond the thing itself, to the motifs and palettes that define it. If you love a particular movie, for example, what colours spring to mind when you think of it? Do you have a collectible piece that you can build your look out from? Is there a particular era that your movie is set in, that you can work into your finished design?

Past design eras often make good themes, because they can give you colour palettes, shapes and design aesthetics to work to, that you can then modernise to suit your home and your life.

“I’m loving the Art deco look at the moment,” Amy says. “It’s made a huge comeback. It’s a theme or style that lets you bring in a mixture of rich colour tones such as Resene Olive Green or Resene Galliano, as well as some really interesting wallpaper designs.”

Meryl’s fun themes to consider incorporating into your space:

Top tip:  Whatever your theme is, don’t think too literally about how to create it in your home. Instead, think a bit more laterally about what are the design elements that make you love that theme in the first place. Build your look from there.

Resene Breathe Easy

Resene Credence

Resene The Ritz

Resene Field Day

Resene Rewilding

Resene Contented

Resene Valentine

Resene Just Dance

Resene Yogi

Resene Boost

Resene Exactly

Resene Grape Escape

Resene Temptation

Resene Kia Kaha

Resene Transition

Resene Trek

Resene Arriba

April 13, 2023

For help choosing colours, products and effects finishes 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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