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Habitat plus - adding texture, gloss and pattern

To really come alive, neutral and tonal colour schemes need texture and variations in gloss levels.

This can be from very subtle (a soft linen curtain) to more dramatic (a lambs wool cushion or chunky knit throw). It can involve glossy surfaces like glass-topped tables, high-gloss finished furniture or glass vases.

Rough textures tend to add warmth and intimacy to a room while glossy surfaces may make a space feel sleek and more aloof. A careful combination of both can look amazing.

Rough texture will deepen the colour of the object, while gloss will lighten and brighten it by reflecting the light.

As anyone who pores over home decorating magazines will know, you don’t have to actually run your hand over that weathered timber or feel that cut pile carpet between your toes. Texture is also a visual sensation – we know what it will feel like just by looking.


Pattern can be used in mostly neutral schemes to provide similar visual relief to texture. Wallpapers, fabrics, cushions, rugs, artworks and accessories are all ripe opportunities to add pattern.

As a general rule, larger patterns are visually calmer, and smaller ones are visually busier.

Any pattern in a room will be naturally eye-catching so on the one hand, pattern is great to perk up a lifeless corner, but on the other, be wary of overdoing it.

While mixing patterns can be done with a careful eye (often by using common colours), it’s often best to stick to one style – all florals, all tropical and leafy, all geometric.

Adding texture and gloss. Clockwise from top left: Resene Quarter Rice Cake in a design by Nobbs Radford Architects. Resene Colorwood Pitch Black wall with Resene Delta and Resene Quarter Delta tables, styled by Claudia Kozub. Resene Alabaster in a room by Indie Home Collective.

Paint gloss levels

Texture and visual relief isn’t just about the furnishings. The gloss or sheen level of the paint you choose can also affect the way the colour looks. A flat paint will make the colour look muddier and denser, while a gloss finish will make it look cleaner and brighter. You can use this to your advantage by varying the gloss level to make a neutral colour palette more interesting and to highlight specific areas of the room.

There’s a trend for chalky, more matte finishes with paint. It’s a look easily achieved with Resene SpaceCote Flat. Flat paints have a rich velvety look and will hide minor imperfections in your walls.

Flat finishes tend to show the marks more than higher sheen finishes, however, so if you have a busy household with children or pets, Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen may be a better option.

An easy approach is to use your favourite Resene white in a flat or low sheen finish (Resene SpaceCote Flat, Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen or Resene Zylone Sheen) on your walls, teamed with trims in the same colour but in a semigloss finish (use Resene Lustacryl) and a flat finish for your ceiling (Resene SpaceCote Flat). It’s subtle and elegant.

The Essentials wallpaper collection The Essentials wallpaper collection (218020), available from Resene ColorShops.

Paint-on texture

Resene has a range of specialist finishes that can add texture to your walls (or accessories like plant pots). Resene Sandtex gives a lovely gritty finish, and is painted on in a criss-cross method, making it easy to get the right effect.

There are also Resene Paint Effects products that can be used with your Resene colour combination to create distressed, whitewash, limewash, French wash, concrete and weathered effects that give the illusion of texture and age.

Wood stains

A dominant element in many interior and exterior schemes is timber. Loved for its organic good looks and varying grain, it’s a material that can be enhanced by Resene stains.

Resene stains from either the Woodsman (exterior use) or Colorwood (interior use) ranges can be used to add colour and depth while still letting the beauty of the grain show through – visual texture at its best.

Particularly popular for exterior timber claddings are darker stains such as Resene Pitch Black or Resene Crowshead while indoor, current trends have seen Resene Colorwood Whitewash and Greywash used on both floors and furniture. Or go for warm stain colours like Resene Natural or Resene Walnut. For a blonded look, choose Resene Rock Salt.

Resene Colorwood Greywash floor
Resene Colorwood Greywash floor.

Top tip

To create great texture for your walls, check out the many anaglypta wallpapers available at Resene ColorShops. The textural patterns range from subtle and natural, to quirky and geometric. Paint over the pattern in your chosen Resene colour.


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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.