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Lofty thoughts

Project ideas and inspiration from Good magazine

Transform a bland attic or rumpty garage space into a rustic studio or spare room.

The modern rustic look is a happening trend. It uses natural textures and upcycled materials accented with muted colour. It’s all about making the most of existing character and roughness, and celebrating the use of natural materials such as brick, metal or roughly sawn timber. It’s an ideal approach for scruffy or lacklustre spaces because, rather than trying to hide rough surfaces and imperfect textures, it makes a feature of them.

A colourful loft

In the attic space, the walls and ceiling were roughly lined with hardboards which cannot be plastered or sanded smooth. Starting with the existing materials, we framed the ceiling using strips of pallet wood to create a more interesting paintable surface. We then used remaining wood strips to create a visually rich feature wall – which we then highlighted with careful use of colour.

Loft before

Loft before 2


You will need

Walls: 10 litres in a neutral shade of the waterborne Resene Zylone Sheen (we used Resene Rice Cake from Resene’s Whites & Neutrals chart).

Joinery: 1-2 litres Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen waterborne enamel in the same colour as the walls.

Accents: Testpots or 1 litre each of Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen waterborne enamel in various shades of your choice.

Step-by-step instructions


Step 1

Pallet wood

Painting supplies

Painting supplies 2

Step 1  Using gloves, pliers and hammer, pull the pallets apart and remove any nails.

Step 2  Use lengths of pallet wood to cover any holes and to frame rough but paintable surfaces. Using the skill saw, cut timber strips to shape and nail or screw them onto your feature wall. For larger areas (such as the bottom of the wall, left) consider using entire pallet sides.

Transforming a loft
Step 2

Step 3  Prepare walls and joinery for painting by lightly sanding them as necessary. Sweep away any dust and wash all surfaces using hot water and your favourite cleaner.

Step 4  Minimise the impact of ugly walls and joinery by painting them in the same neutral shade (we used Resene Rice Cake from Resene’s Whites & Neutrals chart).

Step 5  Add accent colours by lightly painting selected boards on your feature wall and on wooden boxes and furniture. We used Resene Serenity and Resene Wild Thing on the walls, Resene Serenity on the chair, and Resene Wild Thing, Resene Flourish and Resene Koru for the three beer crates.

Get the look


Painted beer crates

Rustic linen

Rustic linen 2

Colourful loft

Store your personal effects in painted and stacked beer crates and handy wire basket sets, available in various colours from Green with Envy,

Enjoying rustic style doesn’t mean compromising on comfort with linen sheets, broadside wool throw and striped cushion covers from Izzy and Jean,

Photography and Styling Sarah Heeringa, Woodwork Scott Satherley and Lily Lawrence. 2014

Download this article as a PDF

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.