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Habitat plus - going dark

Many of us think of neutral as whites or pale colours but very dark colours are can also be neutral. The classic example is, of course, black. These examples, mostly from the Resene Whites & Neutrals collection, highlight the different types of dark neutrals and their effects:

  • Blacks: Just like whites, there are many, many different ‘blacks’. Some have a touch of brown, some green and some blue.

interior dark colours Left: Resene Nocturnal walls and Resene Viktor floor; styled by Vanessa Nouwens. Right: Resene Baltic Sea walls; styled by Gem Adam.

Ideal on their own or to anchor a scheme, dark neutrals provide a soulful backdrop for brighter, more intense feature colours. Add drama by using a sharp accent colour. Team dark neutrals with cream or crisp white trims. This works especially well with older homes, where skirtings, architraves and cornices will be highlighted by the contrast with smoky dark walls.

Dark colours make a room feel more intimate and cosy – great for bedrooms, media rooms or large living spaces. A far wall can appear closer when painted in a dark colour, or use a dark wall colour to offset a beautiful sideboard, mantelpiece, freestanding bath or upholstered chair.

Dark walls also work well in a matte finish rather than lowsheen, giving a rich velvety look. Try Resene SpaceCote Flat.

The right light

Make sure your lighting is up to the task. Dark walls absorb light, so you may need to beef up your lighting to compensate. Spreading the light around the room, rather than having one central ceiling fixture, achieves a more even effect and gives you flexibility.

Top Tip

Make sure you use Resene paint as the base for your Resene colour, otherwise that colour you have agonised over just won’t look right. Resene paints are renowned for their quality and coverage, whereas paints of lesser quality need more coats and time to achieve their true colour.

Did you know...

That if a full colour scheme of dark neutrals is too much, you can use varying shades of the same neutral in different rooms? The Resene Whites & Neutrals collection is handy for this, as varying strengths of the same colour are displayed on the same card.


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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.