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Neutrals get earthy

From Habitat plus - decorating and colour trends 2019

Soft yet grounded, today’s neutrals are warmer

After years of bedecking our homes in palest greys and hint-of-warmth greiges, the look for neutrals is heading back to those with a warm or brown base. Rather than the latte tones we saw in the 2000s, however, these new neutrals have a touch of earthiness and a slight yellow cast – the colours of soft clay, wheat, brown rice, bamboo and aged paper.

The neutral palette of colours has always served us well. As the world goes mad around us we seek to create restorative spaces that soothe the senses and the mind. This colour palette also reinforces our growing environmental values but also the desire to be more carefree and less perfect.

pale earthy colours and lounge.
Left: For added texture try a wallpaper from the Resene Wallpaper Anaglypta Collection. This is design RD171 painted in Resene Colins Wicket. Background in Resene Parchment, tealight holder in Resene Pale Oyster, jug in Resene Korma, fanned A4 drawdown paint swatches in (left to right) Resene Double Sisal, Resene Soya Bean and Resene Pale Oyster with Resene Triple Ash (under brush). Right: Wall in Resene Double Sisal, floor in Resene Parchment, jug in Resene Korma, wide bowl in Resene Soya Bean, side table in Resene Scrub, plant pot in Resene Mai Tai, basket planter in Resene Double Lemon Grass, tall vase in Resene Triple Ash and wide bowl on top of the cabinet in Resene Soya Bean.

Today, warmer, deeper neutrals find natural partners in the texture and fibres found in jute rugs, rattan furniture, aged timbers and organic shaped and patterned accessories. It’s rough, but in a nice way.

The textures in this living room (right) marry superbly with its zen-like undertones and style. Layers of warm tonal shades add depth and interest without clutter. Where not long ago our love of natural clean lines had us all embracing the Scandi look, this too has softened into something more comforting – a look dubbed Japandi as a mix of Japanese and Scandi styles.

Pales and texture for colours
Left: Walls in Resene Colorwood Whitewash and Resene Aquaclear, vanity in Resene Colins Wicket, plant pot in Resene Influential, painted hooks in (top to bottom) Resene Rococo and Resene Swiss Caramel, ladder in Resene Rice Cake, floor in Resene Eighth Stonewashed and vase in Resene Half Stone Age.  Right: A soft eco cool feel with a strong tie to natural textures. Background in Resene Colorwood Whitewash and Resene Aquaclear, hooks in Resene Rococo and Resene Swiss Caramel, and A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left) Resene Rice Cake, Resene Colins Wicket and Resene Influential. 

Note the use of Resene Colorwood Whitewash in this bathroom (above left). It’s a warmer way to use white, giving a soft layered look where the grain of the plywood walls is allowed to shine, yet the raw look of timber is tempered. Textured elements add interest with a jute mat, string bag and raffia light shade, while earth tones are used on the vanity. The room is given a burst of warm sunshine with an accent of bright saffron yellow.

Warm neutrals work extremely well with leafy green plants. Both these rooms use them to add balance and create warm meditative spaces that are both uplifting and cocooning.

Earthy neutrals to try:

Resene Double Ash
– a soft green-edged neutral

Resene Napa
– a smoky grey beige

Resene Earthen
– a staunch olive brown


Resene Influentual

Resene Rococo

Resene Swiss Caramel

Resene Eighth Stonewashed

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