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Check, please

This feel-good print that is symmetrical yet fun stems from the new found obsession that brought us cottagecore, picnic table aesthetics and a spike in the resurgence of gingham’s popularity. True followers of this trend will love the look juxtaposed with something flowery and feminine, pops of neon and accessories in curvy shapes.

The best thing about checkerboard is it’s both classic and versatile. For example, checkerboard can be spun in French country or retro, chic and sophisticated or funky and bold looks. While the design can be applied to virtually any surface and be in whatever hues your heart desires, it’s the colours you choose that have the greatest control over the character your checkerboard takes on – and your choices go so far beyond black and white. Picking colours that have less contrast or are tonal variations of the same hue such as Resene Kalgoorie Sands and Resene Just Right will lend a more elegant and refined flavour, subdued earthy tones like Resene Quarter Bison Hide and Resene Double Bison Hide are more muted and could fit within a Mediterranean look whereas more dynamic and high contrast options such as Resene Dingley with Resene Spanish White or Resene Vanquish with Resene Pot pourri will catch the eye more and communicate a bolder vibe. Ultimately, a checkerboard design can work anywhere – it’s all about finding your own way of applying it to your home, and there’s no better way to do that than with paint.

A checkerboard themed dining room

A checkerboard mood board

A checkerboard mood board

A checkerboard themed dining room

Mood board: Checkerboard background in Resene Doeskin and Resene Eighth Joss with A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Doeskin and Resene Eighth Joss, tray and tealight holder in Resene Dusted Blue, bowl in Resene Tobacco Brown and checkerboard vase in Resene Black and Resene White Linen

You can take this trend to something as small as a coaster, but a checkerboard floor is a choice that will keep looking classic long after the peak of this trend has passed. We created ours with Resene Walk-On flooring and paving paint tinted to Resene Eighth Joss and Resene Doeskin as a neutral base that would connect well with our Resene Eighth Joss walls. Scale is a very important aspect of nailing the checkerboard trend, especially if you will be layering a number of checkerboard designs into a single space. A simple rule of thumb is to paint bigger squares on larger surfaces and make your squares smaller as your paintable area shrinks. We went with squares that were 40cm2 for our floor, squares that were 20cm2 for our table and 5cm2 for our vases and plant pots. This creates more variety and interest without overwhelming the space.

For each of our projects, we started by painting the lighter of our two Resene paint colours on to the entire surface in two coats. Once the basecoats had dried, we used a ruler and pencil to mark out our grids and high quality washi-style painter’s tape – available at Resene ColorShops – to mask off our squares. Apply your second, deeper colour of choice to the masked areas in two coats and allow them to dry before removing your tape.

A checkerboard themed lounge

A detail of checkerboard painted cabinet with 3d vases and plant pot

Paint: Wall in Resene Eighth Joss, Checkerboard floor in Resene Eighth Joss and Resene Doeskin, Checkerboard coffee table in Resene Dusted Blue and Resene White Linen, Checkerboard cabinet in Resene Dusted Blue and Resene White Linen, Solid lamp shade in Resene Tea, Checkerboard drum pendant in Resene Eighth Joss and Resene Doeskin, Brown bowl in Resene Tobacco Brown, Black and white checkerboard vase in Resene Black and Resene White Linen, Large checkerboard plant pot in Resene Regent Grey and Resene Doeskin, Small vase with handles in Resene Black, U-shaped candle holder in Resene Doeskin, Round circle vase in Resene Eighth Joss, DIY textured checkerboard vase in Resene Dusted Blue with Resene Eighth Joss squares glued on, Small blue tealight in Resene Dusted Blue, Tall standing bowl in Resene Quarter Doeskin, Plant pot in black stand in Resene Regent Grey, Flat tall vase in Resene Tobacco Brown, Flat tray with feet (on dining table) in Resene Dusted Blue, Dining chair with black metal legs in Resene Quarter Doeskin.  Accessories: Bronte Linen sofa, clipper dining table from Nood; Brown boucle cushion from Lune and Co; Blue linen cushion cover and matching throw from H&M Home; Black and white checkerboard artwork from Simply Creative; Two tone cushion from Freedom; DIY bowl artwork painted by Laura Lynn Johnston.

To give your paint project a psychedelic twist, draw your grid by hand with wavy lines rather than straight ones and use a small, flat artist’s brush to colour in every other square with two coats of your paint hue of choice. Or keep your lines perpendicular but create an irregular grid, where your line spacing will occasionally be narrower or wider to add some surprise and interest. If you adjust your spacing, it will give your checks more of a plaid look – which is just as valid a way of interpreting this trend.

When you have a number of checkerboard patterns layered within a single space, remember that you will still need to create an even more eye-catching focal point. In this case of this room, where we have relied on softened shades for our patterns, adding in some solid coloured accessories in a deeper colour like Resene Tobacco Brown can be enough. Or consider adding yet another layer of smaller scale checks in a classic high contrast combo like Resene Black and Resene White Linen on a vase, plant pot or DIY artwork to draw the eye as a finishing touch.

Paint projects

Checkerboard floor:
The floor is painted in 40 x 40cm alternating squares of Resene Doeskin and Resene Eighth Joss.

Checkerboard paint projects

Checkerboard cabinet:
Paint your cabinet in two coats of Resene Lustacryl tinted to your choice of colour – we used Resene Dusted Blue. Then, measure and mask a checkerboard pattern on the door fronts. Our checkers were approximately 4cm in size

Used Resene Lustacryl tinted to your second colour of choice – we used Resene White Linen – to paint your checker squares.

Coffee table:
This coffee table is 80cm long, 40cm high and 60cm deep and made from 18mm MDF board.

Once your table is constructed, paint all surfaces in Resene Quick Dry primer followed by two coats of Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene White Linen. Then, use a ruler to mark out your checkerboard in pencil. Our squares were 20cm in size. Use high quality painter’s tape to mask off your checkers then paint them in two coats of Resene Lustacryl tinted to your choice of colour – we used Resene Dusted Blue. Remove tape and allow to dry fully before using.

Checkered plant pot and vase:
Give vases and plant pots a new look by painting a checkerboard pattern onto them. The plant pot checkers are 6cm in size and painted in Resene Doeskin and Resene Regent Grey The black and white checkered vase has 5cm size checkers and painted in Resene Black and Resene White Linen.

3D Checkerboard vase:
Give new life to an op shop vase by painting it using a testpot of Resene Dusted Blue in two coats. While the paint is drying, paint a set of small wooden cubes in two coats of Resene Eighth Joss. Once all paint has dried, glue the cubes to your vase to create a checkerboard pattern by leaving equal sized gaps between each cube. Note: it is best to use a vase with at least one flat surface/side for this project.

Checkered drum lampshade:
First, paint your lampshade in two coats of Resene Eighth Joss then use a ruler to measure your squares (ours are 10cm in size). Next, use painter’s tape to mask off each square then paint the squares in Resene Doeskin in two coats and allow to dry. Remove tape and hang lamp.

Styling by Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2022

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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.