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The new neutrals

From habitat plus - decorating and colour trends 2022

After two decades of cool, flat greys and whites reigning as the preferred neutrals, there has been a shift towards warmer and more complex options. Character neutrals, which feature more depth in their subtle undertones, are all the rage.

Stone greys, biscuit beiges, blush suedes, steeped whites, olive taupe, slate greys and complex pewters like Resene Cobblestone, Resene Anglaise, Resene Calico, Resene Tea, Resene Cargo, Resene Blue Bark and Resene Silver Chalice represent the new neutrals that are trending today. Immensely flexible thanks to their rich and intricate undertones, each of these hues make a solid base for those who like to regularly change up their accent décor. Simply layer them with warmer-toned accessories like Resene Fire and Resene Americano in the cooler months and crisper tones like Resene Quarter Frozen and Resene Zumthor when the mercury rises to regulate the ‘visual temperature’ of your home.

A bedroom with layered neutrals

A grey bedroom with a colourful headboard

Neutral bedroom: Create depth by layering multiple neutrals, starting with a colour blocked wall and floor feature in two strengths of the same Resene colour then add in natural fibres, softly hued bedlinens and pale coloured accessories. Wall and floor in Resene Quarter Black White with colour block in Resene Double Black White, bedside stool in Resene Alpaca, vase in Resene Kangaroo, bowl in Resene Pearl Bush, artwork in Resene Alpaca and Resene Quarter Black White and pendant lamp made from Resene paint stirrers finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash. Bedlinen and cushion from Città, glass from Freedom.  Green and brown headboard: Grey is a versatile neutral that is striking on its own but is also happy to sit on the side-lines and let other colours be the star. The blue tones of this Resene Half Gull Grey wall allow the headboard in Resene Lignite and Resene Go Ben to pop. Floor in Resene Colorwood Natural, desk in Resene Colonial White, chair in Resene Gold Dust metallic and accessories in Resene Americano and Resene Go Ben. Pendant lamp from IKEA.

A master bedroom with dark and light blues

Lounge with character neutrals

Bedroom: Back wall in Resene Zumthor with shelf wall in Resene Blue Bark and floor stained in Resene Colorwood Dark Ebony. Linen and robe from Penney + Bennett, artwork by Sofia Lind from Slow Store, bedside table from Danske Møbler, carafe set from Sunday Homestore, ottoman from Republic Home.  Lounge: Character neutrals can act as chameleons and appear completely different depending on your lighting circumstances and what other colours you pair them with. Walls in Resene Anglaise and floor in Resene Calico ragged with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium coloured with Resene Cobblestone and Resene Half Karaka. Sofa and lamp from King, table and stool from Nood, throw from Città.
A lounge with light and dark walls
Room with panelling painted in Resene neutrals
Lounge: A single wall, a rug and one or two small accessories in a dark colour like Resene Double Foundry can work wonders for grounding an otherwise light neutral space. Left wall in Resene Cargo, right wall in Resene Double Foundry. Furniture and accessories from Nood.  Room with panelling: Back wall in Resene Quarter Merino with lower panelling in Resene Double Merino, left wall in Resene Quarter Karaka, floor in Resene Double Merino with texture in Resene FX Paint Effects Medium coloured with Resene Foggy Grey, mirror frame in Resene Nero, plant stands in Resene Quarter Crisp Green and Resene Quarter Merino, plant pots in Resene Quarter Merino and stool, shelf and chair rail in Resene Foggy Grey. Bar stool and medium plant stand from Jardin.

Resene Colorwood Whitewash

Turn up the texture

It can be a stellar look to take tasty tones like butterscotch, toffee and caramel from tip to toe within a single space. But if you’re worried about these sugary colours becoming overpowering, try just taking them halfway up a split wall or use them to create a unique painted feature wall and balance them with solid neutrals like Resene Talisman, Resene Spanish White, Resene Canterbury Clay or Resene Blackjack. It’s easy to create an eye-catching look through simple masking to create a single stripe, or even a series of them, depending on how much visual texture you want to incorporate in your space.

2020 Trend Spotter Trend: stripes, see "Other trends"

A gold and black striped room

A caramel coloured room

Striped room: Back wall and tiny vase in Resene Quarter Tea, left wall in Resene Rusty Nail and Resene Blackout, floor in Resene Talisman, sideboard in Karen Walker Chalk Colour paint in Resene Fuscous Grey finished with Karen Walker Soft Wax, plant pot in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect and bowl in Resene Blackout. Chair from The Cane Collective, rug from The Ivy House, lamp from Slow Store, coffee table from Bohzali, artwork from endemicworld.  Caramel room: Upper wall in Resene Spanish White, lower wall and floor in Resene Canterbury Clay, stripe and cabinets in Resene Brown Sugar, side table in Resene Rusty Nail, plant pot in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect and vase in Resene Calico with design in Resene Canterbury Clay. Chair from Freedom.

Top tip: Chalk and matte finishes are an on trend option for rejuvenating furniture. Try Karen Walker Chalk Colour and Waxes from Resene ColorShops to bring an artisanal vibe to your project.

Today’s take on tonal

While tonal or tone-on-tone looks originated with layering multiple strengths of a single hue within a space, today this trend usually sees a variety of colours being used together for added depth and interest. For example, rather than using Resene Tea on your walls, Resene Half Tea on your floor, Resene Quarter Tea on your trims and Resene Eighth Tea on your ceiling, mix and match a number of colours that have similar undertones together. Pair Resene Tea walls with a floor in Resene Blanc, furniture and trims in Resene Bison Hide and accessories in Resene Tapa for a richer look.

For even more texture, try layering a number of similar timber tones within the same space. Walls in Resene Silver Chalice look extra sophisticated with a wooden floor finished in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, timber furniture stained in Resene Colorwood Ironbark and accessories in Resene Quarter Sandstone, Resene Dune and Resene Mondo.

A neutral bedroom

A grey panelled bedroom

Neutral bedroom: Wall in Resene Tea, floor in Resene Blanc, bedside table in Resene Bison Hide, lamp and bowl in Resene Black, lampshade in Resene Bison Hide and vase and picture frame in Resene Tapa. Linen from Adairs, chair from Freedom, rug from Città.  Grey bedroom: Love the look of battens or panelled walls but lack the woodworking skills or budget to make them happen? Take the backs and glass out of affordable picture frames, screw, nail or glue them to your wall, fill in holes as necessary, prime them in Resene Quick Dry primer and then paint them in two coats of your wall colour to create this look in your home. Wall, battens and vase in Resene Silver Chalice, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, pendant lamp in Resene Quarter Sandstone, DIY artwork in Resene Colorwood Jarrah and reclaimed concrete side table sealed in Resene Concrete Clear satin with timber top stained in Resene Colorwood Ironbark.

Top tip: For a full range of gorgeous neutrals from whites and off-whites through to black and near blacks, with up to six strength variations of a colour, check out the Resene Whites & Neutrals collection, available in palettes or as a fandeck.

Resene Mid Greywash

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