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From Habitat magazine - issue 34, bathrooms

Pink can be polarising but take a fresh look, and you will find it surprisingly versatile.

The colour pink is associated with calm, love and – appropriately in the current climate – kindness. But it's not the most obvious choice for bathrooms. It's more often used in bedrooms and children's play areas and it can also look, well, saccharine, which can make it feel a bit of a risky choice.

A pink bathroom in Resene Wafer

Kitchen and bathroom designer Melanie John used Resene Wafer on the walls of this Opaheke bathroom. The door is painted in Resene Quarter Bison Hide, the trim in Resene Quarter Sisal and the ceiling in Resene Half Alabaster.

And yet, the colour is enjoying a revival. Rosy pink walls signify optimism. Check out Resene Hopbush and then ask yourself why you're smiling. Pink can make people happy, which is perhaps one of the reasons designers are increasingly turning to it. Its energy can reinvent any room, especially a bathroom, where it is less expected.

Retro reinvention

Pink's connection with cheerfulness is a reason for its long association with bathrooms. After World War II, its use represented a departure from the monotone drabness and austerity of wartime colour schemes. In the 1950s, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower favoured it throughout the executive residence, earning The White House a new moniker: The Pink Palace. It was a quintessential part of mid-century interiors, perhaps one of the reasons why it's again being picked for new and renovated bathrooms.

Modern romance

The simplest way to decorate a pink bathroom is, of course, to paint it. The owners of this Opaheke bathroom (see page 51) asked designer Melanie John of Auckland's Cube Dentro for a fresh, modern look for their master ensuite. She recommended Resene Wafer, a fine, biscuity pink that ties in beautifully with the blue and grey tones in the rest of their 1960s home.

“The homeowners have a love for colour, and we wanted to create a space that was soft and trendy,” she says. “While we stayed safe with the grey and white tiles, we wanted something that would pop on the wall to give it some colour and fun.” She says she sampled a few Resene shades and settled on Resene Wafer, which complemented the existing tiles, blue vanity and Resene Quarter Bison Hide door colour perfectly.

Rosy thoughts

It's true that pink is more often used in nurseries and bedrooms. But when it is used as a neutral in the same way as soft grey, shell blue or sage green, it can be the opposite of sugary or childlike. There are two main ways: as the main event – on walls and fixtures – or as an accent colour.

Towels are an obvious and easy way of introducing an added dimension to a bathroom painted in a soft blue – in this case, Resene Longitude, a chalky pastel grey-blue. In general, powdery pastel shades work beautifully in bathrooms since they have a calming effect, eminently suitable for a room that's nowadays considered a place to unwind and pamper – more luxe home spa than utility room.

Colours such as Resene Midwinter Mist, Resene Soothe, Resene Half Duck Egg Blue, Resene Powder Blue and Resene Half Washed Green from the Karen Walker Paints collection are ideal chalky shades to team with muted pink accents.

Modern romance
Modern romantic bathroom design

Rosy thoughts
A warm pink bathroom

Modern romance: The blush pink basin and rose gold mixer, both from Plumbline, pop against the walls which are painted in Resene Longitude. Further pink accents come through with the vase and duckboard, both painted in Resene Half Pohutukawa. The vanity and splashback are Resene Juniper and the monstera hooks are painted in Resene Streetwise. Mirror from Palliser, shower curtain and duckboard from Kmart, towel from Adairs, basket, soap and sponge from Città, slippers stylist's own. Styling Melle van Sambeek.   

Rosy thoughts: Interior designer Becky Lee chose warm Resene Sakura for the bathroom of her 1950s bungalow. The pink colour warms up the cold bathroom on the south side of her home. "Originally it was painted in a cool off-white and combined with the granite vanity and tiled floor, it always felt like I was walking into a fridge," she says. "I wanted to add warmth to the space and use a colour that suited the era of the house. Resene Sakura works so beautifully with the crisp white fixtures, granite and the green houseplants. I love the result – now it feels like walking into a lovely warm hug," she adds.

Modern romance colours

Rosy thoughts colours

Peachy keen


Wallpaper can be another a great way to introduce colour and texture to a space without overwhelming it. This bathroom, which features a Resene Wallpaper Collection P031-VD3 wall mural, is an inspiring example of how a feature wall can take a bathroom from ordinary to outstanding. Pair it with flooring in Resene Colorwood Natural and walls and trims in a warm white such as Resene Half Pearl Lusta or Resene Bianca.

A sunset mural in a bathroom
A sunset mural

Bathroom art, such as murals, must be able to withstand a moist and humid environment, so it makes sense to ensure the room is well-ventilated. In terms of subject matter, water scenes like this are an obvious choice as are botanical prints. And how about a world map upon which the eye can linger while you lay back in the bath and dream of distant horizons?

Neutral zones

When it comes to choosing wallpapers and colours for a room, preferences can differ according to personality. She might like vivid fuchsia; he might be a fan of earthy green. But that doesn't make the case for increased neutrality, decoratively-speaking.

Traditionally feminine colours such as pink and apricot can be used in a house without anyone needing to escape to their man cave (or she-shed). And the best place to experiment? The experts all agree: the guest bathroom is the best place to have some decorating fun – the more playful and elaborate, the better.


This sunset scene mural, Resene Wallpaper Collection P031-VD3, transforms this bathroom into a relaxing sanctuary. Pair with a warm white wall colour such as Resene Bianca.

Pink hints

  • Undeniably warm and romantic, a soft pink such as Resene Paper Doll can reinvent any room, especially when teamed with copper such as Resene Burning Sand, teal such as Resene Teal Blue or bright blue such as Resene Half Resolution Blue.

  • When used as an accent, a statement hot pink shade such as Resene Pink Panther is anything but childlike, particularly when paired with an earthy shade such as Resene Chelsea Gem.

  • Some shades of pink, such as Resene Half Pale Rose, are so light, they're almost white. They don't have the immediate transformative effect of a bold fuchsia, but they are equally as lovely and a far subtler way to transform a space.

  • Adding a touch of the impossible-to-ignore pink, Resene Irresistible, is an effortless way to update a grey or beige room – try it on a piece of furniture. Happy to make an additional statement? Hot pink is best mates with colours such as orange, purple and deep green. Try Resene Energise, Resene Daisy Bush or Resene Aquamarine.

  • A chair painted in a hot pink such as Resene Colour Me Pink, or a line-up of plush pink towels all pack a distinctly tropical punch.

  • Despite its sunny sensibilities and ability to bounce light around a room, pink (especially the stronger shades) can also make a space look closed in; make sure your bathroom gets plenty of light or adjust your lighting to suit.

  • True pastels such as Resene Cupid are cool in tone and can make a room feel summery, but those containing a touch of grey or red such as Resene Bone are great at warming up a space.

  • If all else fails and you can't bring yourself to jump in wholeheartedly, consider introducing pink accessories. Paint baskets in a coral-pink such as Resene Sunglo or Resene Big Bang, prime metal robe hooks with Resene GP Metal Primer and paint with Resene Cupid, create a fuchsia-framed mirror with Resene Smitten and add blush touches with pink soaps, even a rosy carpet runner. Baby steps.

images: Bryce Carleton, Melanie John, Becky Lee
words: Tracey Strange

 

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