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home comforts

From Habitat magazine - issue 34, calm and cosy

Leave stress at the front door by creating a calming home that puts mental wellbeing at the fore.

A calming lounge in Resene Moss
Wall and fireplace in Resene Midnight Moss

Food, water, warmth and shelter – these are our basic human needs. But as our pace of life becomes faster, and our world becomes more complex, we require more than just shelter from the roof above our head. Modern interiors need to be calming, cosy sanctuaries that not only protect us from the outside world but rejuvenate us. There are many events we can't control, but one thing we can change is our home’s interior. Dr Fiona Crichton, a health psychology specialist for Mentemia, the mental health app launched by Sir John Kirwan, says having a comfortable home space can help ease stress and promote positive mental wellbeing.

"Now, more than ever, it's important that we embrace the idea of home as a refuge – a place where we can replenish, where we can kick back and have some fun, where we can just be," says Fiona.

"It's a real challenge right now in our hyperconnected and technology-driven world to switch off. It's common to feel like the mind is running on overdrive. Spaces that were traditionally used for unwinding, like the commute home, are now used for virtual work meetings or emails."

The good news is that with a little DIY using Resene paint and colour, it's easy to create home spaces which feel rejuvenating.

Top tip: You really can't beat a screen. They create decorative interest, hide clutter and create curves that soften a room. We created this striking screen, inspired by the stained glass art of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, by painting the main panels in Resene Tequila with 'leading' in Resene Midnight Moss and coloured 'stained glass' in Resene Bandicoot, Resene Rob Roy and Resene Lightning Yellow.

Wall and fireplace in Resene Midnight Moss, floor in Resene Half Fossil and door in Resene Leather. Folding screen in Resene Tequila with ‘leading’ in Resene Midnight Moss and coloured ‘stained glass’ in Resene Bandicoot, Resene Rob Roy and Resene Lightning Yellow. Vases in Resene Leather, Resene Rob Roy, Resene Clover, Resene Sushi, Resene Lightning Yellow and Resene Bandicoot. Lidded dish in Resene Tequila, painted books in Resene Lightning Yellow, Resene Clover and Resene Rob Roy, votive holder in Resene Lightning Yellow and tea light holder in Resene Rob Roy. Sofa, rug, tables from Freedom Furniture, marble tray from H&M Home, Play the Gameposter from Pictorem, tennis racket from Junk & Disorderly.


Healing colours

Colour can have a powerful effect on our mood. If you're feeling overstimulated or anxious, choose colours which calm the mind. With its associations with sea and sky, blue has a serene quality evoking the infinite possibilities of the wide blue yonder. Drinking water is essential for our physical health. A study published in Psychology Today found that proximity to the sea, lakes or other bodies of water is also good for mental health promoting "calm, focus, creativity, sleep quality and overall happiness". The colour blue can have a similar effect. To create an easy, breezy blue space, try soft, dusty shades such as Resene Frozen and Resene Nepal.

A lounge with calming colours

Green has similar peaceful qualities, reminding us of forests and botanical beauty. Create a gentle green environment using refreshing grey-mint such as Resene Norway or bluey-green like Resene Thor.

An arch screen painted in the soothing Cape Cod palette of Resene Half Alabaster with stripes in Resene Pattens Blue, creates a reading or knitting zone in the corner of any room. The walls are Resene Half Alabaster, floor in Resene Rakaia and the short side table is in Resene Ship Cove. Pause Voile curtain in Naturalle from the Resene Curtain Collection, armchair from Wolf & Co, rug from Kmart, lamp from Lighting Plus, throw and cushion from H&M Home, vase from Bed Bath and Table, candle from Flo & Frankie.

Old sport

While soft colours are usually a go-to for relaxation, deeper colours can also have calming qualities. Walls painted in rich shades such as Resene Midnight Moss have a cocoon-like quality that make a space feel like it's giving you a loving hug. Pair with earth tones, leather and wooden furniture to create a masculine space reminiscent of old-fashioned billiard rooms and parlours.

Stoke the home fires

Perhaps it stems back to our caveman days where a fire and shelter meant a happy life, but a warm fire is immensely satisfying. Fireplaces spark conversation, and even when they are unlit, they are a striking room feature. Decorate with an ornamental pile of branches or pinecones. Transform an old fireplace mantel using Resene Lustacryl waterborne semi-gloss enamel. Try a bold cosy look with Resene Midnight Moss or Resene Merlot.

Get the look

We created a dappled pattern in this blue lounge by painting the walls in two coats of Resene Frozen. Once dried, we used a tape measure, level and pencil to mark out an 80mm x 50mm grid. We applied high quality 24mm wide painter's masking tape, ensuring all of our lines were square. We then mixed a testpot of Resene Nepal into a tin of Resene FX Paint Effects medium and applied it with a paintbrush in a crisscross motion, gently wiping over the strokes with a dry rag as we went. Once dry, we carefully removed the masking to reveal the 'grout' between the 'tiles'.

Puttin' on the Ritz

Ever wondered why you sleep better when you're on holiday? Hotel spaces are designed by experts to help rejuvenate tired travellers, often battling jetlag, travel stress and 'did-I-leave-the-iron-on?' anxiety. Light, bright and fresh interiors of hotels and resorts are like hitting the reset button on a tired, worried mind. While there's no place like home, create a holiday-like feeling by clearing away clutter that might remind you of work or your to-do list. Go neutral on walls with restful whites such as Resene Bianca and Resene Rice Cake. Little details such as light-blocking curtains, linens with sky-high thread counts and soft-yet-firm pillows that Goldilocks would declare "just right" add up to extra hours of 'zzz'. Channel the stately glamour of grand old hotels in North America such as Le Château Frontenac, Quebec or the Waldorf-Astoria, New York by painting walls a bold blue, such as Resene Atomic, with a deco headboard design in Resene Half Concrete.


Get the look
A dappled blue paint effect creates a soothing quality

Puttin' on the Ritz
A hotel inspired bedroom in dark blue and white

Get the look: The Resene Nepal wall colour gives this modern living room a soothing quality. Walls in Resene Nepal with ‘tile’ paint effect in Resene FX Paint Effects medium coloured with Resene Frozen. Floor in Resene Blanc, round coffee table in Resene Tuscany, console tabletop in Resene Bokara Grey. Ceramics from Formantics, artwork by Maiko Nagao, candlesticks from Power Surge, dried flowers from Wandering Willow, lamp from Lighting Plus, sofa from Wolf & Co, rug from Good Thing, cushions from Adairs.   

Puttin' on the Ritz: This hotel-inspired bedroom has walls in Resene Atomic with headboard detailing in Resene Half Concrete. The floor and bedside table are also painted in Resene Half Concrete. The breakfast tray is in Resene Atomic. Bedding from Ezibuy, rug, cushion and lamp from Freedom Furniture, mirror from Briscoes.

Get the look colours

Puttin' on the Ritz colours

Fabric of life

A relaxing cosy conservatory
Sit back and relax in a cosy conservatory

In the same way that tucking yourself into a duvet at night is instantly relaxing, being nestled up in a room rich with soft furnishings, throws or lush ottomans evokes the snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug feeling. Colour coordinate your cushions with your walls using the Resene Living range from Briscoes designed to tie in with Resene wall colours. Add warmth with drapes from the Resene Curtain Collection available from your Resene ColorShop and curtain specialists. You can create softly washed textured effects such as limewashing and colourwashing on walls using Resene FX Paint Effects medium.

Sit back and relax in a cosy conservatory with a back wall painted in Resene Triple White Pointer, side wall in Resene Half Friar Grey stone with Resene FX Paint Effects medium coloured with Resene Quarter Friar Grey stone applied using a large brush in a swirly motion then wiped off with a dry rag to create a marbled effect. Floor in Resene Triple White Pointer, trellis in Resene Whitewash and tray in Resene Blanc. Sofa from Early Settler, bean bag and mugs from Kmart, checkered blanket and cushions from The Warehouse, black cushion from H&M Home, other cushions and coffee table are stylist's own.

Create zones

Separating areas in your home using colour
Demarcate spaces in your home for work and play

Finding it hard to switch off? Get in the zone. Create separate areas in your home for work and play using colour to demarcate areas for each activity. An unused corner can become a serene reading nook using an arched screen painted in a tranquil blue such as Resene Pattens Blue. When working from home, claim space for a mini office in a hallway or corner of a room by painting a grid in Resene Thor and Resene Paris White to prevent papers and documents from taking over other areas.

"For the home office, it's important to have a comfortable chair and a designated area to work. Try not to schlep your work computer to the dinner table or the couch. Otherwise, you will find you are living at work rather than working from home," says Fiona.

"If you can, avoid working in your bedroom. You really want to separate work from sleep. And, if possible, work near a window where you can look outside onto greenery, which can instil a feeling of calm. Most of all, do not let your work seep into your non-work time. Switch off the computer at the end of the day.

"Take a slow breath. And – I recommend – turning up the music and having a dance to blow off the cobwebs and to remind the brain that it's 'home' time."

Demarcate spaces in your home for work and play using colour. The left wall of this handy home office is painted in Resene Paris White with a painted 'tile' design in Resene Thor. This grid pattern helps separate the work area on the left from a reading area in Resene Thor on the right. The sections are separated by a column painted in Resene Saltpan. The display shelf is Resene Thor, the small box is Resene Saltpan with stripes in Resene Mako, the tape dispenser is in Resene Mako and the bookends are in Resene Rice Paper. Artwork State Highway 39 by Sarah Parkinson from endemicworld, armchair from Dawson & Co, polar bear from Flotsam and Jetsam, cup and crate from Superette, journal from Typo, desk chair stylist’s own.

Slow it down

Join the slow food movement and sit down and enjoy your meals. Eating and cooking are both grounding experiences that help you tune into the present moment. Warm hues such as Resene Brown Sugar and Resene Wood Bark make kitchens and dining rooms feel welcoming. Create a space which encourages you to spread out on surfaces to prepare and get cooking. Sourdough anyone?

Top tip: For soothing spaces use low sheen and flat paint finishes, such as Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen and Resene SpaceCote Flat. The lower sheen finishes help to diffuse the light and make the room more relaxing than a glossier finish.

Make your home your own

Fiona says the most important way to create a relaxing space is to create a home you enjoy living in.

"Everyone is different. I like minimalism, clean lines and clear surfaces. That helps calm my amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for triggering the fight-or-flight response). I enjoy the impression that things are organised and under control. A great friend finds this unsettling. She finds comfort in having her knick-knacks and many precious possessions around her. Her rooms are stuffed with treasures.

If you’re unsure whether your rooms need to be made calmer, Fiona suggests checking how you feel when you enter a room.

"Take note, do your shoulders drop and does your breathing slow, as you relax? Do you feel happy to be there, or slightly on edge? Adding a splash of colour can change a feeling of blah to a feeling of yeeha! I have a lot of red in my house, including Resene Havoc, because I like it. It cheers me up. Again, it's about organising spaces that make you feel good."

Mentemia is a free app which coaches mental wellbeing. Visit

Slow it down
A calm in cosy kitchen in Resene Brown Sugar

Make your home your own
Pastel green Resene Norway features in this lounge

Slow it down: The simplicity of this dining area's warm palette keeps the focus on food and conversation. Floor and lower wall in Resene Canterbury Clay, top of the wall in Resene Spanish White with batten stripe in Resene Brown Sugar. The dining table, chairs and bench are in Resene Spanish White. Cabinet in Resene Brown Sugar and tall table in Resene Wood Bark. Small bowl on cabinet in Resene Wood Bark, round ball ornament in Resene Tussock, small hand-painted vase in Resene Spanish White with Resene Brown Sugar stripes, tall vase with large handles in Resene Wood Bark and small vase in Resene Brown Sugar. Small jug on tall table in Resene Bone, vase and artwork painted in Resene Tussock, Resene Calico and Resene Brown Sugar and large dish on dining table in Resene Brown Sugar. Throw from Adairs, all other items stylist’s own.

Make your home your own home: Resene Norway is a calming pastel green popular in the Art Nouveau era. Side walls in Resene Eighth Fossil, middle wall in Resene Norway, floor and small coffee table in Resene Quarter Fossil, large coffee table and cabinets in Resene Norway with inner door panels in Resene Rice Cake. Jug in Resene Pale Leaf, vases in Resene Rice Cake, Resene Amulet and Resene Pale Leaf and large bowl in Resene Highland. Sofa from Freedom, linen cushion cover from H&M home, sage cushion from The Warehouse, tumbler from Città, artwork from Etsy, candle from Bed Bath & Beyond, all other items stylist's own.

Slow it down colours

Make your home your own colours

styling: Laura Lynn Johnston, Vanessa Nouwens, Melle van Sambeek
images: Bryce Carleton, Wendy Fenwick


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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.