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Soft neutrals that harness quiet beauty

From the Resene decorating blog

Subtle neutrals reveal how light interiors don’t just have to be white.

A moodboard featuring soft rose and clean whites

Layers of gentle, soft rose and clean whites provide a richly textured setting through various tones. Choose flooring in a complementary tone with a hint of subtle pattern, and textures in fabrics or flowers that bring interest.

Background finished in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy, A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Half Black White, Resene Eighth Black White and Resene Triple Black White and vases in Resene Eighth Black White. Wooden candlestick from A&C Homestore. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

They might be quiet, but soft neutral colours resonate strongly in an interior. They may not scream “Look at me!” loudly and urgently, but their soothing nature and delicate approach to colour is warming and appealing to be around. From barely-there greens to the palest pinks, subtle neutrals reveal how light interiors don’t just have to be white.

Colour can be brought into a room in the lightest understated form, in a way that best reflects your personal identity and speaks to your taste.

While neutrals may appeal to our tastes, employing a sense of colour in our homes – in this gentle form, still allows for the creativity and expression colour so successfully evokes.

Timeless and sophisticated, pared-back colours offer a versatile choice for homes, and in winter, when paired with comforting textiles with a sumptuous feel and ambient lighting, they create true havens.

Neutrals are so often linked with white or grey, but there are so many more variations. Ground yourself in the earthy tones of clay and stone. Or take warming terracotta, timeless rustic yellow, clay and brown. In their warmth, they are cosy and inviting. They look right at home on walls next to furniture in wooden form and aged materials – think leather, wood, rattan and charcoal-painted accents.

Try terracotta in Resene Beethoven or Resene Sante Fe, the biscuit of Resene Wafer, apricot rose of Resene Wax Flower, creamed yellow ochre of Resene Tequila, or the warm glow of Resene Buttermilk. Other neutrals in this palette include the pinky brown of Resene Just Right or the cream brown of Resene Calico.

Look to the warming sunsets, their rustic shades of pinks and oranges, nurturing and uplifting – pale, met with brick or warm white bedding, offering a sanctuary and cosy relaxation where the senses can completely unwind. They bring a sense of mystery and of the exotic, evoking places afar where the focus is on a slower way of life and the handmade.

The ethereal pink of Resene Dust Storm works magically in a living room, anchored by warm whites in Resene White Pointer or Resene Rice Cake. Or in a bedroom, with a strong red accent in a throw or lightshade. By enveloping a whole room in a light colour – on walls, trim and the ceiling – you can create a true sanctuary. By taking your muted hue and using it in its fullest form on all the features of a room throughout the house, a sense of calm and consistency runs throughout.

Nurture clarity and harmony in your home with the palest white, beige and cream. Light creams don’t have to feel bare, keep the warmth and character of these timeless hues ever-present. Use white in Resene Merino, cream in Resene Pearl Lusta or warm biscuit-beige in Resene Bison Hide and Resene Drought. Pair with sweet chocolate of Resene Pavlova, and carry the shades of your chosen cream from room to room, varying the depth of tones as you walk through your home.

A warm off-white lounge

Warm off-whites nurture and restore, and when paired with the gentle curves of comfortable furniture and luminous shiny accents, the setting is perfect for nothing more than cosy daydreaming. Walls painted in Resene Half Blanc, floor in Resene Eighth Blanc, plant pot in Resene Blanc, vase on side table in Resene Triple Blanc and side table painted with a sponge in a dappled effect with alternating Resene Eighth Blanc, Resene Blanc and Resene Double Blanc. Resene Echelon Curtain In Earth, lamp from Lighting Plus, gold bowl from Good Thing, chairs and rug from Danske Møbler, cushion from Furtex. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

As exciting as the busyness of life can feel, deep down, we all crave escaping it and taking refuge in a sanctuary, free of noise and things we don’t need but softness and peace. White, beige and cream offer just that softness and peacefulness.

Airy blue, light and tranquil, takes us to lying on a grassy lawn staring up at the sky on a sunny day. It evokes that sense of peace, and what better colour to bring into your home. Pair blues in Resene Oxygen or Resene Time Out with white and cane furniture, ceramics and touches of a brighter blue in lighting or cushions for contrast. Use rugs and throws with patterns in pale, stone-like colours, touching on the tones of nature within this blue-sky setting.

Green has an effortlessly tranquil characteristic that, even with the gentlest touch of colour, can send an interior into a place of mindfulness. Just as indoor plants and botanical wallpaper bring a lushness and richness to a space, green paint tones do the same. Think Resene Aspiring or Resene Moon Mist paired with a chocolate brown and soft grey-green.

The reference to nature and lush rolling hills can be captured within your home with these pale soft shades, giving a sense of connection to the natural environment. Imperfect décor finds its place here, rustic wooden bowls, hand-crafted ceramics, or a worn timber dining table handed down through generations.

A moodboard featuring soft neutrals

Background painted in Resene Half Breathless, curved arch in Resene Half Caraway, large vase in Resene Half Breathless, small vase in Resene Barely There.

A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Barely There, Resene Half Nomad, Resene Half Craigieburn, Resene Pearl Bush, Resene French Grey, Resene Half Caraway and Resene Half Breathless. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Honeyed yellows have a powerful impact in this bedroom

Honeyed yellow, pale and sweet, is a quiet colour with a powerful impact in this bedroom.

It transcends beyond the busy lives of its inhabitants, bringing tranquillity and relaxation amid the complementary sweet whipped cream of Resene Meringue painted on the walls. Wall and shelf wall painted in Resene Meringue, floor in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy, round table in Resene Illuminate, tall vase with palm foliage in Resene Creme De La Creme, round ball tealight candle in Resene Illuminate, short curvy vase with palm foliage in Resene Yuma, small tealight holder with holes in Resene Coconut Cream, short three bobble vase in Resene Lemon Twist, small dish in Resene Coconut Cream, large DIY textured art in Resene Creme De La Creme, smaller DIY textured art in Resene Double Spanish White and books on shelf in Resene Yuma, Resene Meringue, Resene Lemon Twist and Resene Mint Julep. White duvet cover and pillowcases from Foxtrot Home, boucle ball cushion and tassel throw from Adairs, lemon striped cushion and lemon cushion from Freedom, round boucle cushion from Mocka, cream cushion from The Warehouse. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Hues that evoke a touch of retro or exotic far-off lands, have their place within the neutral conversation, channelling more in-between shades with an element of mystery about them. Draw on grey-blue, mustard, lilac and brown to induce a heritage feel of a time gone by.

One way to add texture and movement to your pale hue is with a limewash effect. It’s an easy process – simply coat one layer of light colour onto your wall, then apply a darker colour mixed with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium. Brush the dark hue over the first colour in a criss-cross motion before wiping it with a piece of muslin in a gentle downward motion.

Such light hues are ideal for creating a relaxing, personal space in the bedroom. Clean, uplifting subtle colours on the bedroom walls, such as pale green Resene Rainee or gentle beige Resene Westar make for a suitable setting to greet the day with when you wake. In contrast, if you tend to stay up late at night, cocoon-like colours such as olive beige Resene Stone Age and the beige Resene Tide, subtle yet moody shades will feel more appropriate.

But hues with a sense of serenity work beautifully, bringing in an air of tranquillity and rest. Coating your bedroom ceiling in the same shade as your walls or a darker tone is another way to give a lovely enveloping feeling to the space.

If you’re struggling to determine which neutral to use in a room, look at the features in the space. Is it north-facing, in which case does it welcome the sunlight or is it south-facing and cool? Warmer neutrals will benefit cooler rooms, while in warm rooms, you can play around with cooler tones. Whatever you choose, to provide a subtle contrast to your lighter hues, bring in a few accessories in tonal shades. Layering décor and textiles will add to the character these nuanced paint colours already provide.

Resene Meringue

Resene Creme De La Creme

Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy

Resene Illuminate

Resene Double Spanish White

May 19, 2023

For help choosing a colour palette to suit your project, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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