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It’s only natural – how the outdoors affects our indoors

From the Resene decorating blog

The colours and patterns of nature have always found a way into our homes and it’s more endemic than you might think.

It’s much more than a tendency to choose browns and greens with timber finishes. When you think about it, almost every colour originates somewhere in nature and when we see colours in surprising or inspiring places we naturally try to replicate it at home. It might be stormy sea-glass teal of Resene Bismark, the confectionary hues of a sunset in Resene Soulful, the stark minimalism of a desert in Resene Artisan or even the mulchy dark browns of the forest floor in Resene Rebel. It all finds its way in somewhere.

A stained plywood bathroom

Visual texture gives this room extra depth with plywood wall finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash. The vanity is painted in Resene Colins Wicket, the ladder is in Resene Rice Cake, the hooks are in (top to bottom) Resene Rococo and Resene Swiss Caramel, the vase is in Resene Half Stone Age and the floor in Resene Eighth Stonewashed. Styling by Gem Adams; image by Melanie Jenkins.

And, of course, it’s not just about colour. Natural textures and materials are also finding their way in from leaves and straw to woven rattans, wood grain and silky flowers, as are organic curves and swirls.

Why do we keep coming back to nature in design?

It’s been well-documented that spending time in nature is beneficial to our mental health, so why wouldn’t we bring the outdoors in? It simply makes us feel good, whether it’s a beautiful leafy wallpaper print, a soothing sea blue on the walls or filling your home with plants. It’s an easy way to turn your home into a revitalising and restorative retreat, and embrace the philosophy of biofilic design which emphasizes human adaptations to the natural world.

It’s particularly true here where, even in cooler climates, we like to have that easy flow between indoors and out. These days when, particularly in cities, our homes are getting more intensively packed, and we’re losing those big backyards we grew up with, it’s even more important to find that natural connection in the designs, textures and colours of our interiors.

The other reason a natural look to our design remains popular is our growing eco-awareness and desire for sustainability. Materials that reflect our external environment but don’t deplete it, like bamboo and engineered stone or woods, are increasingly popular, as are natural fibres such as cane, flax and rattan.

A soft grey-green interior with pops of red

Soft grey greens come alive with pops of red.

The wall is painted in Resene Peace, the floor is in Resene Grey Chateau, the shelf is Resene Untamed, the side tables are Resene Grey Olive (large) and Resene Poured Milk, the tall vase is Resene Double Pravda, the round vase on the shelf is Resene Double Ash, the small bowl is Resene Waiouru and the candle stand is Resene Charcoal. Styling by Gem Adams; image by Melanie Jenkins.

A painted vine design in a home interior

Try something like this simple vine design painted in Resene Aquamarine and Resene Surf Crest against a Resene Deep Sea wall.

This is a great freehand style for beginners as the shapes are organic with simple lines and curves that have plenty of margin for error, just pencil your design on to the wall first. Styling by Emily Somerville-Ryan; image by Melanie Jenkins.

The new browns

Painting from a natural palette does often make us think of brown. The good news is modern browns are deeper, richer and more interesting.

Think about warm browns such as Resene Brown Pod or the coffee-hued Resene Sambuca. Try them paired with wood stain in Resene Colorwood Iroko or the subtle warmth of Resene Half Tea. These deep browns also work incredibly well with contemporary creamy whites like Resene Half Spanish White.

You could veer into darker rockier territory with stony shades such as Resene Quarter Bokara Grey or try spicer brown tones in Resene Spice for a more desert-themed natural feel. Opt for highlights in shades of aged paper or oat such as Resene Napa or Resene Parchment.

These also work well with the trend for warmer beige tones like Resene Artisan and Resene Earthen.

The over-riding feel of all these shades is warmth to create a space that is comforting and calming without ever being dull or dark.

An interior painted with soft flaxen golds

Soft flaxen golds create a warm scheme with walls in Resene Putty with shelves in Resene Gold Dust metallic, a plant pot in Resene Castaway and peg stool in Resene Teak. Wallpaper is used to line the back of the shelves using designs 378003 (top), 378022 (middle) and 378031 (bottom) from the Resene Wallpaper Collection.

A watercolour paint effect

This dreamy watercolour paint effect is surprisingly easy to do and its randomness is part of the charm. It uses Resene testpots in Resene Castaway, Resene Gunsmoke, Resene Martini, Resene Silver Chalice and Resene Double Alabaster.

Paint the rainbow

Keeping to a natural palette in your home is no barrier to the use of on-trend bold colours.

If the sea is your natural inspiration think about a palette of on-trend teals such as pops of bright Resene She’ll Be Right against warm, deep Resene Fast Forward. Or try tonal layers of Resene Calypso with Resene Blumine and Resene St Kilda. How about lighter pops of Resene Onahau.

Tropical sunset shades are another inspiring natural trend making us think of warm escapes. Think of that graduated sky you get in a perfect sunset from the ice blue like Resene Bluetooth, through dusky oranges like Resene Whiskey Sour and soft pinks like Resene Soulful to deep reds like Resene Red Berry.

One other thing to consider when you’re painting from nature is imperfection and detail. If you’re using something like a plant or leaf for inspiration really look at how it’s coloured. Often there will be graduating shades, or even contrasting colours in the space of one leaf or petal. Look at how flower colours work with leaves of the same or surrounding plants.

For something more organic, and you fancy yourself as something of an artist, consider free-hand painting, or more safely, stencilling and plant-inspired design on the wall.

Dining room with palm leave print wallpaper

A riot of palm leaves brings nature indoors with Resene Wallpaper Collection design 384503.

An interior with sea blue wallpaper

Shimmering sea colours with Resene Wallpaper Collection design 90241.

Pattern and shape

Of course, nature is all about going a little bit wild now and then and the right wallpaper can be a dramatic and impressive way to do it. Floral wallpapers are definitely having a moment, but these are not the fussy, dated patterns you may remember from Grandma’s kitchen. Floral wallpapers now run the full spectrum from delicate to impressionist or bold.

Our current fondness for nature-inspired interiors is also expressing itself in accessories like vases, mirrors and art that are organic and imperfect in shape. Think round mirrors, curved pots, and even the swirls and patterns of stone benchtops.

Texture, too

Texture is important in any décor design as it prevents it from seeming flat and uninteresting, as well as being simply nice to touch.

Elements such as un-dyed rope, hessian, canvas or rattan bring a natural feel to your room and soften it, no matter what your colour scheme. Think about how you can embrace fibrous, soft material finishing touches in everything from rugs, wall hangings and cushions to floral arrangements and light fittings. It extends to using sustainably recycled wood or bamboo, which can connect to your colour palette with a Resene Colorwood stain if necessary.

Hot tip:  If you have a window that looks out on to a beautiful tree or plant, make a feature of it in the room. Go with a neutral wall around that window and consider painting the frame the same colour as the wall, so your showcased plant really pops in the space.

Resene Poured Milk

Resene Eighth Stonewashed

Resene Earthen

Resene Peace

Resene Fast Forward

Resene Soulful

Resene Artisan

Resene Bluetooth

Resene Rococo

Resene Swiss Caramel

Resene Untamed

October 10, 2018

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