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Neutral territory

From habitat plus - bedrooms

Whites and neutrals are by far the most popular bedroom colour choice as they can often lead to a nice relaxing space, but with hundreds of Resene colours it can be hard to choose just one.

A relaxing bedroom with a stained wooden headboard

The headboard stained in Resene Colorwood Whitewash allows the natural wood grain to show through, giving the bedroom a relaxed feeling. Wall in Resene Triple Pearl Lusta, floor in Resene Eighth Pearl Lusta, sideboard in Resene Hemlock and large vase in Resene Brown Bramble.

top tip  Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen is ideal for painting bedroom walls. This waterborne paint brings enamel-style toughness to broadwall areas with a low sheen finish.

There are many reasons to opt for white – it's timeless, it's classic, it's relaxing and it will go with all your bedlinen. If you're choosing white because you're shy of bold colours, dip your toe in by painting your walls a neutral hue but choosing bold colours for your bedside tables, headboard, feature wall – or even the inside of your closet. Whites can often take on qualities of colours they are next to, so a white wall next to a blue feature wall will have a slight blueish tinge. Try colours next to each other using Resene testpots.

But which white is right?

The Resene Whites & Neutrals collection is made up of 28 palette cards, with 12 individual colours on each card, often organised into colour ‘families’ or varying strengths of the one colour such as Resene Black White, Resene Half Black White and Resene Double Black White. Some of the colours have up to six strength variations, which comes in hugely handy when you are building a tonal colour scheme. To understand the qualities of the white you are after you can check the paint code. Beneath each paint swatch is not just the name but a code which starts with a letter. That tells you the base colour of the paint. So Y is for yellow, BR for brown, G for green and N is for neutral (which means black, or rather grey once you put it with white). Some paint colours cross from one base to another depending on their strength, for example, Resene Half Pearl Lusta’s code starts with a Y but Resene Quarter Pearl Lusta starts with a G.

The last three numbers of the colour code tell you where the colour sits on the colour wheel. Imagine red is at 0, then it moves into orange and yellow, green is at 180 then on it goes through blue and purple. So if you have two similar colours and one has 020 on the end and one has 180, this tells you that the 020 one is closer to the red part of the spectrum and the 180 one is closer to the greens. This is important with off-whites, as it’s the subtle undertones that you notice when they are used in a room.

A warm white bedroom

Warm neutrals such as Resene Tea are very on trend. Wall in Resene Tea, floor in Resene Blanc, bedside table and lampshade in Resene Bison Hide and lamp base in Resene Black. Artwork from WArtDesign Studio on Etsy.

A cool white bedroom

Earth tones and clutterfree decor gives this bedroom a relaxing feeling. The walls are in Resene Eighth Tana, circle headboard in Resene Prairie Sand, floor in Resene Colorwood Whitewash and side tables in Resene Tana.

Warm whites

Creamy, dreamy and definitely bedroom worthy. Red, orange, yellow and brown-based whites are good for rooms that need warming up, and their creamier qualities are relaxing which makes them well suited for bedrooms. They are ideal for colder bedrooms especially those on the south side of your home.

Try Resene Half Pearl Lusta, Resene Villa White, Resene Half Spanish White or Resene Rice Cake which have calming yellow undertones. Remember to test the colour on a separate piece of large cardboard and move it around your bedroom at different times of the day to observe how the colour changes.

A neutral green cottage bedroom

Kirsty Wraight of David Wraight cottages chose Resene Secrets, a nearly neutral celadon green, for the bedroom of this replica villa. The trims and ceiling are Resene Quarter Cararra (try Resene Quarter Bianca).

A cohesive and soothing neutral green bedroom

Use different strengths of the same neutral to create a cohesive and soothing space. Wall and floor in Resene Quarter Black White, bedside table and rectangular painted wall feature in Resene Double Black White. The DIY pendant lamp is made from paint stirrers finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash and the DIY artwork is painted in Resene Alpaca and Resene Quarter Black White.

top tip  To create crisp, straight lines on your painted wall, mask with high-quality painter's tape. Remove the tape when the paint is almost dry.

Cool whites

Cooler whites with a touch of grey are a good option for rooms that are north facing and receive a lot of light. Resene Black White is Resene's most popular white and is a favourite of many architects. This crisp white with a hint of black is great for accentuating architectural features and suits bright bedrooms with a contemporary style. Resene Alabaster is another design favourite and often features on trims and doors. Other cool whites to try include Resene Sea Fog, Resene White Pointer or Resene Wan White.

If opting for a cool white, avoid it appearing too stark by layering the room with texture and softness through furnishings and bedlinen.

A military blue ceiling and crown moulding

Think of your ceilings as a fourth wall, ready to be tied into your colour theme. This creative bedroom designed by Annick Larkin features a ceiling and crown moulding in Resene Bismark paired with walls, window trims and skirting boards in Resene Double Alabaster.

Green whites – the best of both worlds

Can't decide between a cool or a warm white – try a green white. Because green is made up of both blue and yellow, green whites have qualities of both. Resene Merino is the best of both worlds with a hint of grey but a green undertone which makes it a delightful bedroom wall colour. Other green whites to try include Resene Half Thorndon Cream, Resene Quarter Linen, Resene Quarter Ash and Resene Quarter Wheatfield.

Creative neutrals

Expand the complexity of your creams and whites and choose those that have a hint of colour in them: it might be a touch of blue with Resene Designer White, a hint of grey with Resene Triple Sea Fog, a dusting of shell pink with Resene Quarter Blanc or an infusion of biscuity warmth with Resene Quarter Sisal. All will provide a flexible background for a bedroom where the bedlinen can be changed out to provide interest or different coloured accents in rugs and art can be introduced.

Tonal colour schemes are soothing as they allow your eye to travel from one area to another without any jarring visual elements. Try a scheme based on smoky grey with a wallpaper or bedlinen patterned in greys along with charcoal walls, a mid-toned grey carpet and silvery accessories.

A near-white pastel master bedroom and ensuite

This master bedroom and ensuite mixes near white pastels with creams to create a dynamic yet calming space. The white wall colour has a hint of blue, painted in a quarter strength of Resene Nebula, with trims in Resene Quarter Villa White. A restored clawfoot tub painted in Resene Pale Prim peeks through the doorway from the bathroom, painted in Resene Half Pale Rose. The bathroom's ceiling, panelling and architraves are painted in Resene Quarter Villa White.

Best bedroom colours
View a selection of other Resene colour palettes to gain inspiration and help design your ideal bedroom!


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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.

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