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Grounded in nature

With our lives becoming increasingly busy and mounting pressures to always be ‘on’ and connected, a strong trend has developed for decorators to turn their homes into relaxing retreats where they can find reprieve from the outside world.

While the concept of shutting off can be tricky to grasp, creating a place that signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down doesn't need to be difficult. In fact, there has been a lot of psychological study done into the conditions that help humans to effectively rest and recuperate – and it all comes down to leveraging some key colour theory and design principles.

A relaxing nature-inspired lounge

A nature inspired moodboard

A nature inspired moodboard

A relaxing nature-inspired lounge

Mood board: Background in Resene Castle Rock with Resene A4 drawdown paint swatches (from right to left) in Resene Copyrite, Resene Raptor, Resene Tuscany and Resene Chelsea Gem, bowls in Resene Sugar Loaf, book in Resene Castle Rock and painted vases in (clockwise from top) Resene Raptor, Resene Tuscany and Resene Alpaca. Throw from Citta.  Accessories: Sofa, table, linen cushions and throw from Citta, Neutral patterned cushions and rug from Freedom, White mug from Kmart, Reading glasses from Auckland Art Gallery, Mules from Hannahs.

Building a space where you can rest and recuperate starts with a solid base of paint colours that evoke comfort, cosiness and restful energy. While different hues can elicit those emotions for different people, layers of soft earthy colours are universally accepted options that invite you to sink in and relax. Neutrals in general have also been trending warmer, with stonewashed greys like Resene Stonewashed replacing cold steel greys, deep woody browns like Resene Wood Bark are being favoured over charcoal greys and blacks and stark whites are being swapped for creamier beiges and bone whites like Resene Sugar Loaf and Resene Umber White. Plus, greyed olive greens like Resene Raptor and toasty terracotta like Resene Tuscany are some of the most popular accent colours around – which means that your earthy colour palette will not only be tranquil, it’ll also be highly fashionable.

The Resene Whites & Neutrals Collection is a great place to start looking for base colours for a natural scheme that hinges on tonal colours, but there are also some superb ‘character neutrals’ in Resene’s main colour collection, the Resene Multi-finish range, which shouldn't be overlooked. ‘Character neutrals’ are much more intriguing than your typical true neutral and are rich with extra complexities varieties thanks to their subtle undertones. Colours like Resene Copyrite and slightly deeper Resene Castle Rock, while not overtly green, are both warm greys with a hint of green that becomes more pronounced when paired with hues with red undertones such as Resene Tuscany and Resene Chelsea Gem and less obvious when teamed up with truer greens like Resene Raptor.

A nature-inspired lounge

Turn your lounge into a relaxing retreat

Paint: Wall and shelf wall in Resene Copyrite, Timber floor in Resene Colorwood Natural, Painted floor in Resene Castle Rock, Pendant lamp in Resene Umber White, Rope side table in Resene Sugar Loaf, ‘River stone’ artwork in Resene Double Ash with lines in Resene Triple Dune and stones in Resene Umber White, Textured artwork in Resene EzyFill and Resene Sugar Loaf and vases, Bowls and painted books in Resene Sugar Loaf, Resene Alpaca, Resene Half Rickshaw, Resene Castle Rock, Resene Tuscany, Resene Chelsea Gem and Resene Raptor.

Timber is a great material to incorporate into a decorating scheme that’s focused on wellbeing. More and more, science is confirming that being exposed to nature – and natural, organic materials – not only calms our minds but can contribute to our health. For most of human history, a connection to nature was a given, with our daily lives intimately tied to the cycles of the sun, the seasons and the natural world around us. It’s only recently that we began to earn a living, go shopping, enjoy endless entertainment, and even socialise without ever leaving home. While convenient, this separation from nature may be taking a toll on our health. Although no indoor environment can replace the experience of the natural world, research is showing that incorporating nature into the built environment – whether in the form of sunlight and fresh ventilation, plants and greenery and organic materials such as wood – can improve occupant comfort, reduce stress and potentially contribute to improved health indicators. This is frequently referred to as biophilic design.

Biophilic design makes ample use of natural daylight, views of nature and materials like exposed wood to create a warm, natural aesthetic that supports a home retreat’s healing objectives. So, if you’re opting to include timber flooring, walls or ceilings as part of your design, you can create a positive biophilic response in the brain by choosing Resene wood stains or washes that allow the natural beauty of the timber grain to show through. In this lounge, flooring in Resene Colorwood Whitewash lends a soft, casual look to the space. But if you’re after something more formal – or if a timber floor won’t be an option – try painting your floor in earthy Resene Castle Rock using Resene Walk-on paint to ground the space.

Choosing accent colours that evoke nature can also provide a positive biophilic response. Clay colours like Resene Tuscany and Resene Chelsea Gem have earthy warmth baked right into them and make a welcome addition to a restful living space through accents like vases, bowls or smaller pieces of furniture (such as a chair or side table). Deep taupes or browns like Resene Triple Dune and Resene Wood Bark can bring added contrast and depth without the starkness of a black or charcoal. Or try adding contrast with Resene Woodsmoke if you’re after a dark hue with a hint of green as a partner to the green undertones in Resene Copyrite and Resene Castle Rock.

Styling by Laura Lynn Johnston. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2022

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