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Classic colour combos for looks that last

From the Resene decorating blog

Look beyond the usual suspects to classic combos that stand the test of time.

When it comes to picking paint colours for our homes, it turns out that there's are fairly consistent palettes we turn to time and again no matter what decade we’re decorating in. These classic colours can’t be confined to a particular era, and for good reason: they’re endlessly versatile, working in rooms large or small, traditional, modern or eclectic.

For a lasting colour scheme you'll love in your home for years to comes, try one of these five combos for style that won’t go stale.

A classic black and white colour palette softened by variations of gey

A classic black-and-white palette looks best when the stark contrast has been softened with different variations of grey.

Floors in Resene Colorwood Pitch Black waterborne wood stain, large nesting table in Resene Quarter Delta, small nesting table in Resene Delta, vase in Resene Quarter Atmosphere. Project by Claudia Kozub, image by Melanie Jenkins.

A classic black and white colour scheme - monochromatic neutrals

Timeless, monochromatic neutrals create a calming colour scheme.

Wall in Resene Black White, floor in Resene Nero, trellis in Resene Nero, drawer frame in Resene Nero, drawer fronts and plant pots in Resene Double Merino, Resene Atmosphere and Resene Quarter Gravel. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Black + White

Colour palettes don't get any more simple or classic than black and white. The high-contrast combination is sophisticated and dramatic. Try a true black like Resene Nero with a brilliant white like Resene Half Alabaster, Resene Jaguar with Resene Half Black White, or Resene Bastille with Resene Half Sea Fog.

The beauty of a black-and-white pairing is that any accent colour will work well with it. Bring in a bold red like Resene Jalapeno, a rich gold like Resene Pirate Gold or a cerulean blue like Resene Decadence.

While the neutrality of this combo is one of its benefits, it’s the high contrast between the two colours that makes it stand out from other neutrals. For equal contrast with added depth, swap out black for a near black that has just a hint of colour and a white with an undertone to match like Resene Indian Ink with Resene Zircon, Resene Karaka with Resene Merino or Resene Aubergine with Resene Eighth Blanc.

Top tip: Adding in fresh greenery and rich timber accents can help add warmth to a black and white palette and keep it from looking too stark. Let the natural beauty of wooden floors shine through with Resene Colorwood Natural waterborne wood stain or opt for Resene Pitch Black to match less-than-idea timber tones to the rest of the scheme.

Orange + Navy + Bright White

As the saying goes, opposites attract – and colours directly across from each other on the colour wheel, such as orange and blue, are no-fail combos. Keep complementary colours looking ageless by containing the shades to accent pieces and pairing with a hefty dose of white. Try walls in Resene Merino with furniture and accessories in Resene Bunting and Resene Twizel. Or try a more vibrant pairing like Resene Licorice with Resene Smoke Tree with Resene Alabaster walls.

A lounge with a navy, orange, and white colour scheme

In this complementary coloured space, the vase, dish and small retro nesting table in Resene Wishing Well provide high contrast with the Resene Bluetooth walls and Resene Jailbreak console while the small bowl in Resene Japonica brings in a softer orange to balance out the look and play off tones in the artwork. Neutral floors in Resene Alabaster lighten things up and keep the bold tones from becoming overpowering. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Resene Bluetooth

Resene Jailbreak

Greige + Cream + Terracotta

‘Greige’, which combines the warmth of beige with the sophistication of grey, is broadening neutral horizons – think Resene Sisal, Resene Thorndon Cream or Resene Half Nomad. While it works in many styles, it is an especially strong choice for rustic decor. Accents of cream and terracotta, such as Resene Pearl Lusta with Resene Hot August or Resene Half Spanish White with Resene Raging Bull, help to brighten the nature-inspired scheme.

Alternatively, you could swap terracotta for a russet brown like Resene Pioneer Red, Resene Desperado or Resene Hairy Heath and go for a darker grey taupe, such as Resene Arrowtown, Resene Mondo or Resene Oilskin for an equally successful combination.

Silver + Seafoam

Pale greys that fall on the silvery side, such as Resene Flotsam, Resene Mercury or Resene Mystic, can give a space a little twinkle. It's an alternative to stark white and fits right in with the trend toward liveable colours.

A romantic silvery green bedroom

While this restful and romantic bedroom is certainly spilling over with similar shades of silvery green, it’s the clever use of repetition and contrast that really make it work. The expansive white walls and floors in Resene Alabaster have been grounded with a unique painted headboard feature in Resene Silver Chalice, Resene Peace and Resene Helix that echoes the rectilinear shapes of the pillows. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

A bedside table and vase in silvery green

The bedside table and vase in Resene Helix and the lamp in Resene Silver Chalice carry the tones of the colour blocks from the walls into the rest of the room while the dark charcoal cushion and velvet chair break things up visually and provide an anchor to this lofty look. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

To accentuate the frostiness of grey, pair them with a soft aqua or seafoam colour, such as Resene Breeze, Resene Duck Egg Blue or Resene Inside Back. Alternatively, mintier greens, such as Resene Kandinsky or Resene Surf Crest, and sage greens, such as Resene Bud or Resene Green Spring, can work equally well.

Other colours to try with soft silvers are dark jewel tones such as emeralds, sapphires and rubies such as Resene Deep Teal, Resene Elephant and Resene Avant Garde.

Resene Helix

Resene Peace

Earthy Greens + Yellows

Nature is a good teacher to look to when building a classic colour palette. Many earthy green shades live together in harmony, including moss, olive, and chartreuse like Resene Flax, Resene Clover and Resene Yuma. Ground the look and bring depth to a natural colour scheme with natural near-black accents in Resene Karaka or Resene Wood Bark and adding in a warm, golden yellow such as Resene Thumbs Up can keep the hues from looking contrived.

A tone-on-tone palette made up of barely there earthy tones can look both contemporary and classic. Think shades like Resene Arrowroot, Resene China Ivory and Resene Zen along with warm whites like Resene Rice Cake.

A soft earthy green and yellow colour scheme

This soft and understated classic colour scheme with walls in Resene Moonlight and floors in Resene Grey Olive looks warm and inviting to would-be visitors. The door in Resene Quarter Pearl Lusta offers a cheerful surprise with edges painted Resene Influential. The vintage bench was given an update in Resene Chorus Line and Resene Quarter Pearl Lusta and offers seating for those heading out to tie their shoes. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Resene Moonlight

Resene Chorus Line

Resene Thumbs Up

Resene Influential

Other classic colour combos you can try:

A lounge with classic Resene neutrals and a yellow colour block on wall

Classic-looking Resene neutrals, including Resene Delta on the walls, Resene Nero on the floor, Resene Half Gravel on the coffee tabletop, Resene Double Gravel on the peg stool and Resene Double Merino on the plant pot and coffee table legs have been given a pick-me-up with a rectangular wall feature in Resene Hot Toddy. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Top tips:

Did you know…  The Resene Classic Collection is a specially curated selection of shades that have staying power and look great in virtually any home. Grab a palette from your local Resene ColorShop and pick whatever colours speak to you, or try one of these tried-and-true combinations.

Resene Triple Duck Egg Blue

Resene Fast Forward

Resene RSVP

June 05, 2019

Visit your local Resene ColorShop for more colour ideas and all the expert advice and products you need for a superb finish on all your decorating projects.

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