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Charcoals are the new black

When it comes to exteriors, charcoal is the new black.

There has been a long and proud tradition of using dark colours on our exteriors, from humble farm buildings to smart urban homes, clean-lined mid-century architectural houses and grander dwellings reminiscent of Cape Cod style with crisp white window trims.

Charcoal exterior

A charcoal moodboard

A charcoal mood board

A charcoal outdoor area

Accessories: Outdoor chairs and table from Danske Mobler, cushion, outdoor radio and hat (used in flatlay) from Good Thing, plant from Adairs.

Smoky dark greys sit within the landscape more readily than pure black, tying in with the greens of trees and other foliage. Brown-infused blacks also meld with the land and for an even gentler effect, exchange the solid finish of paint for the more transparent effect given by wood stains from the Resene Woodsman range – these add depth and colour to timber while allowing the beauty of the grain to show through. There are plenty of stain colours to choose from, including Resene Woodsman Tiri with its blackened brown deliciousness.

Charcoal is also a superb colour to use as a backdrop on which to highlight brighter colours such as the lime green foliage of some plants or bold-coloured flowers.

It’s also the perfect partner to many of the on-trend clay and earth colours such as Resene Tuscany and Resene Amaranth as well as all types of greens from khakis such as Resene Waiouru to tranquil Resene Eau De Nil to sharper colours like Resene Smashed Avocado. Dusky blues such as Resene Duck Egg Blue to Resene Blue Moon also look superb with charcoal.

Dark colours used on exterior surfaces trick your eye because they appear to recede. So it makes a deck area like this appear larger.

A charcoal outdoor living area

A charcoal exterior and outdoor patio

Paint colours: Weatherboards – Resene Nocturnal, Large pot – Resene Nocturnal, Small mother-in-law tongues – Resene Coriander, Round table – Resene Waiouru, Small tables – Resene Nocturnal, Resene Pale Slate, Wooden trays – Resene Waiouru, Decking – Resene Woodsman Uluru, Outdoor light – Resene FX Faux Rust Effect, Bubble sculpture – rods in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect, bubbles in Resene Alabaster.

The same trickery applies to boundary fences especially if you have planted garden beds or hedges close to your fences. Black or charcoal-green fences will make the garden look larger and deeper as your eye finds it hard to tell the difference between the plant shadows and the edge of the property.

If you use white or pale colours near plants, you may be in for higher maintenance as the paintwork will show the dirt more easily.

Just like whites, there are many, many different ‘charcoals’. Some have a touch of brown, some green and some blue.

True charcoals such as Resene Gravel, Resene Double Stack and Resene Tuna are flinty and sophisticated with a cool, urban edginess.

Brown-infused charcoals like Resene Bokara Grey and Resene Triple Masala have a soothing warmth… like coffee or gourmet chocolate.

Add a touch of green to charcoal and you end up with colours like Resene Squall and Resene Swamp giving a twist of nature and making these look right at home in a planted setting. Charcoals with a hint of blue such as Resene Coast or Resene Epic, or even the violet-tinged Resene Black Doris are moody and mysterious, like stormy sea depths.

Whenever you’re using dark colours outside, consider choosing a Resene CoolColour version of your colour as they are made with heat-reflective technology that helps keep dark colours cooler – so there’s no race across the deck in bare feet, but also the paint and the substrate or timber stay cooler and therefore less likely to become damaged or warped.

For decks, a restful sandy tone will tie any exterior scheme together whether you’ve chosen off-white, dusky blues or charcoals – just like the Resene Woodsman Uluru used on this deck.

Make a fun DIY garden sculpture:

Make the bubble-style sculptural sticks seen here by threading polystyrene balls of varying sizes painted in your choice of colour (we used Resene Alabaster) and threading them onto metal rods. We painted these rods in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect.

Resene Eau De Nil

Resene Amaranth

Resene Smashed Avocado

Resene Epic

Resene Black Doris

Styling by Melle Van Sambeek. Photography by Bryce Carleton. May 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.

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