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Of shape, tone and texture

Tonal colour schemes are a timeless and age-old way to decorate a room – or, in fact, an entire house.

The idea is that you use a base colour such as Resene Thorndon Cream, Resene Truffle or Resene White Pointer and use the different variants and strengths to build up a beautiful and restful scheme – you could use the main strength of the colour on the walls, then a half of that for the trims such as the architraves, a quarter strength would go on the ceiling, and a double or triple strength would be used to paint adjoining rooms such as the hallway or a second living area.

A neutral tonal dining room

A tonal moodboard

A tonal mood board

A tonal dining room

Mood board: Background painted in Resene Westar, large vase in Resene Groundbreaker, Resene Wallpaper Collection 36001-3, A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Half Napa and Resene Napa and accessories from Thread Design.  Accessories: Dining chairs from Cintesi, light shade from Freedom.

The Resene Whites & Neutrals colour collection makes it super easy to build a scheme like this as it has cards, available free from your local Resene ColorShop, arranged in the various colours along with their different strengths. Some of the most popular whites and neutrals come in eight different strengths.

Using Resene whites and neutrals this way can result in a tonal scheme in its purest form which could become the backdrop for adding accent colours or textural furnishings. What makes the magic happen in this room are a number of elements. For a start the main accent colour is a deep oilskin brown, Resene Groundbreaker which is used on the dining table, the round placemat on the sideboard and the artwork. This colour follows the rules of a tonal colour scheme but leaps to the darker end of the tonal spectrum – these sorts of colours are also in the Resene Whites & Neutrals chart, not just whites, creams and beiges. Any good interior stylist will tell to work in odd numbers when using a particular colour or element within a room – and that’s what happens here.

Other elements that make the room come alive are pattern and texture. The hero of the room is the beautiful wallpaper with it’s almost 3D geometric design which also uses a marbled effect – it’s contemporary but also elegantly timeless.

A tonal and textured dining room

A tonal and textured dining room - 2

Paint: Diagonal wall – Resene Westar, Floorboards – Resene Colorwood Whitewash, Sideboard – Resene Half Rice Cake, Dining table and round placemat (on sideboard) – Resene Groundbreaker, Lampshade – Resene Parchment, Tall vase – Resene Parchment, Medium ribbed vase – Resene Black Haze, Plant pot – Resene Eagle, Artwork – background in Resene Black Haze, large triangle in Resene Groundbreaker, top two shapes in Resene Half Rice Cake and bottom two shapes in Resene Napa.

The facetted design of the wallpaper is echoed in the DIY artwork and the bowl on the table, while the ribbed pendant light and chairs add a further patterning. And, of course, the textural grain of the timber floor is enhanced with a finish in Resene Colorwood Whitewash.

The accessories, such as the vase and plant pot, build on the complex tonal scheme by introducing yet more colours from the Whites & Neutrals collection, Resene Black Haze, a cloudy grey white and Resene Eagle, an earthy pale green neutral.

The shapes of the furniture add to the light airy feel of the room – this would look quite different if you used chunky rustic forms. Instead, the dining table has slender legs, the dining chairs are so streamlined they are almost invisible, and the sideboard has no handles and sits on slim legs.

All of these elements combine to create a contemporary and elegant space that’s also a little quirky.

DIY artwork

Riffing off the geometric nature of the wallpaper, the artwork in this room is handmade, and finished in a variety of Resene colours that also used throughout the room – the background is in Resene Black Haze, the large triangle is in Resene Groundbreaker, the top two shapes are Resene Half Rice Cake and the bottom two shapes are Resene Napa.

It's easy to make. Simply cut a backboard and the various shapes out of heavy card or thin mdf – perhaps do a mock-up model first using paper to see which shapes look best, using triangles, rectangles and L-shapes.

Paint the backboard and the shapes in the colours of your choice, glue the shapes onto the backboard, allow to dry then hang.

Resene testpots are perfect for this sort of project or simply use paint that’s left over from a larger decorating project.

Project by Kate Alexander. Photography by Bryce Carleton. July 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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