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From Miami to Cuba – timeless tropical brights

From the Resene decorating blog

A sunrise of brights, a cocktail of tropical hues and shades that evoke smile-raising fun, look to the Miami heat and the Cuban summer for colour inspiration.

A sophisticated poolside with a Miami vibe

Cool, sophisticated and with a touch of art décor in angular forms, this poolside setting oozes a Miami vibe.

A palette of pastels with strong brights thrown in is the perfect colour formula for the aesthetic of this cool, seaside city. Mural painted in Resene Polo Blue (sky), Resene Paradise (pool and agave), Resene Rainee (highlights on agave), Resene Soothe (main wall and steps), Resene Swirl (left wall). Resene Martini (ground, step sides and door and window sides), Resene High Tide (door and window) and Resene Half Black White (pool edge) and patio pavers in Resene Concrete Stain Bleached Grey. Metal tray table in Resene High Tide, large plant pot (with Bird of Paradise) in Resene Half Black White, medium plant pot (with palm, inside plant stand) in Resene Polo Blue and drinks tray in Resene Polo Blue. Sun lounger and white side table from Poynters, towel from Tessuti, Bird of Paradise and Palm Plants from Nood, sunglasses from Le Spec, sandals from Flo & Frankie. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

These two iconic places offer an abundance of creativity when it comes to colour combinations in homes thanks to their fiery urban palettes and exotic flamboyancy.

Walk around Miami or Cuba and you’ll be hit by the colours that run through each city. What’s most noticeable is that when it comes to their use of hues and interior style in both destinations, there’s a sense of free spiritedness and celebration.

Let’s start by transporting ourselves to the West Indies, notably enchanting Cuba, what greets us most significantly is colour in all its glory.

Here, there is joie de vivre in its joyful aesthetic and an old-world grandeur, where the streets burst with creativity, dancing and live music that the locals have a passion for.

The vintage cars parked on the roadside nod to the past in their 1950 curves, extending the embracement of colour in their tones ranging from spearmint to red and vibrant pink.

Bright hues are at your fingertips; they’re found indoors – jade green coating a surface beside ornate wall tiles and outdoors on the grand architecture – you’ll pass rows of beautiful historic buildings ranging from cobalt blue, cocoa brown to banana yellow.

Then take the people, the traditional clothes of which include the guayabera shirt or the rumba dress – both expressing layers of colour; amplified and fun.

The city almost stands still in time, and it’s this sense of the past combined with a carefree attitude that appeals to the many tourists who visit it every year from around the world.

There’s a free, relaxed way about the approach to colour in Cuba, and a vibrant flamboyancy that’s hard to beat, yet easy to replicate.

So how do you bring this buoyant sense of Cuban magic into your home? When we think of the colours of Cuba we’re talking tropical watermelon reds, terracotta pinks and jade-like greens and vibrant blues. You’ll be hard pushed to find many neutrals or beiges in Cuba, except in the warm-toned earthy clay in the landscape or some of the older buildings, which work perfectly to balance the exuberant surrounding hues. Instead, colour is bright, and full of life. Not in the primary colour sense, or light pastels, but they take a deeper stance.

Use bright, rich tones in turquoise, pink, green and mustard. Combine colours in a carefree approach and layer them delightfully in your home. It might be the green-tinted blue of Resene Java on your walls, the exotic pink of Resene Irresistible on a free-standing screen and the energetic yellow of Resene Turbo on the dining table. This combination speaks of hues that evoke the unmistakeable Cuban heat and lively nights filled with music and dancing.

A refreshing light blue lounge

Walls painted in Resene Jet Stream, floor in Resene Colorwood Whitewash and window trims and skirting boards in Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue.

Coffee table in Resene Colorwood Natural and Resene Aquaclear Satin (top) and Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Half Black White (legs), coasters in Resene Half Resolution Blue and Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue. DIY artwork in Resene Tuscany and Resene Half Black White (stripes) and Resene Nero and Resene Half Black White (circle). Vases in Resene Half Black White and curtain from Resene Curtain Collection. Sofa from Nood, blue cushion from Bolt of Cloth, lumbar cushion from Citta, brown/cream cushion, lamp and stool from Freedom. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

A bedroom painted in candy-coloured pastels

Let these candy-coloured pastels transport you to a boardwalk by Miami beach. Bright and breezy, the lavender, cornflower blue and varied forms of yellow remind us of cool gelato on a hot day and the chic design-led hotels that grace the beachfront.

Back wall painted in Resene Snow Drift, flooring in Resene Half Milk Punch with pattern in Resene Tuft Bush and shape on wall in Resene Hawkes Blue. Stool in Resene Half Alabaster, desk top and part legs in Resene Eighth Black White, shelf in Resene Hawkes Blue, tall vase in Resene Half Milk Punch with small details in Resene Egg Sour, short pink vase in Resene Tuft Bush and shelf vases in Resene Quarter Moonbeam, Resene Hawkes Blue and Resene Blue Chalk. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

From Santiago to Havana, colour mixes with no holds barred. To replicate this uninhibited aesthetic, paint a wall in the light spearmint blue of Resene Gulf Stream, the watermelon pink of Resene Rapture and the zesty lime-green of Resene Lima with the soft-edged blue teal of Resene Dauntless.

What you’ll find is the pink and greens will bring a juicy, life-loving celebration of colour while the teal will bring them all down to earth, balancing them perfectly with a touch of moodiness. Use Resene Gulf Stream on your walls bordered by Resene Dauntless, lampshades in Resene Rapture and Resene Lima. The result will be a fantasy of Cuban colour! If you have a kitchen island, paint its base in Resene Lima with squares of Resene Rapture in a tile-like form.

A bright cuban inspired dining area

Bright colours are a trait of Cuban design and lifestyle, but so is their approach to raw art, where the rules are abandoned and DIY is celebrated. This kitchen shows an avant-garde approach to colour in the kitchen, with hand-painted designs on the cabinets and each chair painted a lively hue. Back wall painted in Resene Triple Merino, left wall (with window) in Resene Anglaise, window architrave in Resene Triple Merino, timber floor finished in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, table in Resene Half Sea Fog, chairs in Resene Half Resolution Blue (bright blue), Resene Anglaise (warm cream) and Resene Twine (caramel brown) and cabinets in Resene Spindle with painted shapes in Resene New York Pink, Resene Twine, Resene Smashing and Resene Half Resolution Blue. Wavy vase from Shut the Front Door, artwork from Endemic World, blue placemats and plates from Country Road, dishrack (painted in Resene Spindle) from Citta, serving board (painted in Resene Twine) from Country Road, grey cups from Freedom Furniture. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Brights, for some, may feel a bit overwhelming in the home. For a more subtle earthy touch, pair walls in light lavender Resene Heartbreaker with a repeated alternating stripe in pale pink Resene Gelato and darker lavender Resene Waterloo. A touch more muted than the brights, these colours still offer a bohemian feel and that same celebration of colour. Pair with bedlinen in green and pale blue, and light shades painted crimson with Resene Lip Service to match.

Generally, throughout your interior, pair your Cuban colours with dark-toned wood, colourful artwork or 1950s posters. Over-sized painted pot plants indoors and on your home’s patio will further bring the feel of the city to life. Play with patterned Resene wallpaper too, especially large-scale botanicals, floral and fruit designs. Bring in an art décor mirror, an homage to the art movement which arrived in Havana in the 1920s. Keep your patterns and colours mixed, not ‘perfect’ in the traditional sense.

A moodboard featuring bright cobalt blue and exotic jade green

Bright cobalt blue pairs with exotic jade green and breezy sky-blue turquoise for a cool counterpart to the tropical Cuban heat. Dark wooden tones are perfect to partner with these vibrant hues, and make a connection to the country’s historic past. Floorboard finished in Resene Colorwood Shade, A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Double Atlas, Resene Lakeside, Resene Time Traveller, Resene Island Time, Resene Plan B and Resene Epic. Vase in Resene Epic and bowl in Resene Time Traveller. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

Geographically not far from Cuba and in the same realm of celebratory colour and hot climates, Miami nestles on the shores of South Florida.

When we think of Miami we conjure up images of palm tree-lined beach-walk promenades, neon t-shirts and flamingos. Giant colourful murals line the urban streets, and the turquoise of the ocean and sky is ever-present. Throw in a touch of neon, and don’t forget the presence of Art Déco within this city or the Latin-inspired districts such as Little Havana and Little Haiti.

Think pale sky-blue next to flamingo pink in Resene Rapture and innocent pink in Resene Gelato, with tangerine in Resene Trinidad thrown in for the ultimate mix. Ground it with charcoal in Resene Shark or lush leaf green in Resene Bilbao.

Take inspiration from Miami’s famous South Beach and its stretch of azure waters. Mimic the dots of colour that scatter its sandy shores, seen in beach umbrellas, swimsuits and bright colour towels. Interiors inspired by Miami are both flamboyant and elegant. They’re kitsch, classy and cool, with a touch of glam thrown in by way of shiny surfaces.

Take your cue from these sandy beaches, with walls in white and pops of turquoise and gelato colours. Bring in bright elements of colour such as a hot pink kitchen walls with colour glass pendants over the dining table. Or use pale pink in Resene Gelato on your bedroom walls with a fluorescent yellow border in Resene Supernova at the wall edges, with the pistachio green of Resene Pine Glade on bedside lampshades.

Combine the emerald green of Resene Parsley, peacock blue of Resene Bowie and burgundy of Resene Lip Service paired with brass and jade green accents. Or use the strong personality of a bright rich Resene Tangerine shining beautifully next to the hot pink of Resene Glamour Puss and pale pink of Resene Pot Pourri – the latter providing a pared-back contrast.

Life is just too joyful to be surrounded by neutrals alone. By absorbing colours that have resonated with you while visiting a holiday destination, you can feel you’re there all-year round.

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Island Time

Resene Lakeside

Resene Plan B

Resene Time Traveller

Resene Shade

Resene Epic

May 04, 2023

For help choosing colours, products and effects finishes to bring your favourite travel memories into your home decorating, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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