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zone of calm

From Habitat magazine - issue 18

Soft hues provide a calming antidote for an executive couple’s busy city lifestyle.

Neutral home colour scheme
In the rear addition, Resene Half Robin Egg Blue has been boldly used not only on the walls but on the ceiling as well.

Living a busy life in a busy city has advantages for executive couple Catherine and Jonathan and their teenage daughter Caitlin, but it can also get a bit too much. Their solution has been to create a home that feels like a refuge of soft, calming hues.

When the couple bought the one-level 1930s bungalow 12 years ago, it had been renovated. Grand, elegant reception rooms with tall ceilings and lovely bowed windows were painted in an all-over, dull cream, which Catherine says made it appear dingy and certainly didn’t do it justice. But the couple loved the large property that sits against a hill facing north, protected from southerly winds.

Catherine and Jonathan wanted to retain the charm of the old home and to enhance the character while adding more casual living with an easy flow to the garden. Having owned several houses, they were experienced renovators so were undaunted by embarking on major alterations that included adding a large family room to the rear of the house with doors opening either side into the garden, as well as a guest suite downstairs. Later on, they also built a guest room or office in the garden, and updated the kitchen and bathrooms.

While the rear addition has vaulted ceilings finished in tongue-and-groove for a traditional feel, to unite the old and the new “we were looking for colours that transitioned through the house that didn’t jar from one room to another,” says Catherine. They didn’t want just the one colour throughout the house, however.

Cheery red door
The cheery red Resene Pohutukawa welcomes guests at the front door. The walls are Resene Eighth Lemon Grass.

It was Caitlin who chose Resene Lemon Grass for the original part of the house, a colour that sounds cool and exotic, yet is difficult to describe as it changes according to where it’s placed and what’s around it. “It’s green tinged, but it’s not really green,” explains Catherine. They toned it down to Resene Eighth Lemon Grass in the formal living rooms and matched the curtains to the wall colour. This backdrop of continuous colour makes bold pieces of furniture stand out.

Catherine and Jonathan have collected antique furniture, art, rugs and china for many years and have also inherited heirloom pieces. “Both Jonathan and I love old things. We often joke that everything we own is old, including a large teak and mahogany Grand Banks launch from the US that takes up much time spent away from my business.”

Calming home exterior
Red-leafed bromeliads rise up to assert themselves against the home’s handsome Resene CoolColour Double Napa stucco exterior and a fence crisply painted in Resene Bright Charcoal.

In the rear addition, Resene Half Robin Egg Blue has been boldly used not only on the walls but on the ceiling as well. Says Catherine: “The painters thought I was mad when I asked them to do it.” The effect is dramatic but also very visually cohesive and calming. The chimney breast was painted in the slightly darker tone of Resene Windblown Green to give it more of a dimensional quality.

The blue-green undertones of Resene Half Robin Egg Blue and Resene Eighth Lemon Grass morph particularly well together. These tones are further enhanced with outdoor plantings of olive trees and astelia. Where possible, Catherine and Jonathan chose native trees and shrubs, so there are also pittosporum, coprosma and griselinia, trimmed as neat hedges.

Traditional living room scheme
Resene Eighth Lemon Grass is a restful background to a living room of traditional pieces, including antiques and floral fabric sofas. All of the trims are Resene Black White. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Eighth Lemon Grass with trims in Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Black White.

For a calming ambience downstairs, the guest suite was painted Resene Half Sandspit Brown and Caitlin went bolder with a pacific-inspired blue, Resene Half Oxygen for her room, enlivened with curtains in a Designers Guild pattern of big, bright tropical fruits. For the master bedroom, Catherine chose a classic burgundy and gold drape.

Accents and accessories in red are used to unite all the rooms. In the older parts of the house, these are rich maroons and crimson. A standout in the lounge is the classic, flamboyant rose-printed Sanderson linen sofa. In the new spaces, rugs, sofas and cushions are in bright strawberry red, orange and rust.

Calming bedroom
Reading nook
Colourful garden
Bedroom: For a calming ambience downstairs, the guest suite was painted Resene Half Sandspit Brown.  Garden: Red accessories and flowers are used as accents throughout the garden. This deck and terraced garden lies beside a separate studio, painted in Resene Double Napa. Get the exterior look with Resene Lumbersider CoolColour tinted to Resene Double Napa.

The garden echoes these tones with red-flowered hibiscus, Tahitian pohutukawa and prostrate ratas. Scarlet geraniums clamber along the fence in the back garden, which includes an orchard and vegetable garden as well as ornamental plants with a red theme.

In front of the house, bold sun-loving, red-leafed bromeliads rise up to assert themselves against the home’s handsome Resene Double Napa stucco exterior and a fence and stucco cappings crisply painted in Resene Bright Charcoal. Colours that marry both the inside and out ensures an overriding harmony prevails, making this large city home just the tonic needed for city life.

Top tip: Minimise fly spots on ceilings with Resene Fly Deterrent. Designed to discourage flies from landing on the painted surface, it reduces the appearance of unwanted fly spots and is perfect for hard-to-clean surfaces such as high vaulted ceilings.

Get the look in the rear edition with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen (walls) and Resene SpaceCote Flat (ceiling) tinted to Resene Half Robin Egg Blue.

Alternative solution – deep and interesting

a sophisticated and restful scheme

Julie Rees of Sojo Design suggests this alternative scheme:

This formal lounge has been given a sophisticated yet restful look with lots of interest introduced through colour, texture and form. It’s a look that suits the character framework of the room, while introducing new elements.

Alternative solution 1

Resene Half Innocence from the Resene The Range fashion colours fandeck stood out to me for its depth and contrasts nicely with Resene Wan White on the woodwork and the detailed ceiling.

The furniture layout is largely unchanged but the sofa and chairs are set straight within the space, rather than angled. The new pieces have a slightly more contemporary and modern edge, with some interesting design and form. A heavily textured rug with neutral greys, whites and blacks defines the space and adds some beautiful texture beneath the coffee table, which floats between the seats.

The smoky depth of Resene Half Innocence is the perfect wall colour for a sophisticated scheme of black, grey and white. The trims and ceiling are Resene Wan White.

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Top tip: When painting inside, consider using Resene Zylone Sheen VOC Free – it’s free of volatile organic compounds, which is better for indoor air quality.

Accessories: Shutters painted Resene Wan White, from Sante Fe. Halo Rod Pendant Chandelier, medium, from Johnstone Imports. Bruno Sofa, from Lounge Design, covered in Barbarian fabric, colour Silver, from James Dunlop. Urban XP Milky Way Rug, from Signature Rugs.

Alternative solution – retro sophistication

shots of colour join a retro modern look

Helen Shaw of Picturebook Interiors suggests this interior scheme:

This scheme has been inspired by the retro modern look. Slick clean lines with a touch of nostalgia in the choice of mirror and floor light contrast with the high gloss lacquer on the buffet and lamp tables, at the same time inviting you in to sit on the beautiful retro style lounge suite or curl up amongst the cushions on the window seat.

Alternative solution 2

The scheme gives this bungalow a smart designer room using a selection of beautiful greys with the crispness of high gloss white and vibrant red. The accent of green is used very subtly on the odd cushion and the beautiful piece of art glass. The floors have been stripped back to their former glory and recoated in a high-gloss Resene polyurethane finish to reflect the furniture and then gently covered in a rug which incorporates blue-greens and greys.

Shots of bright red and acid green play off against soft grey walls in Resene Fuscous Grey and Resene Foggy Grey. Trims and the ceiling are in Resene Half Wan White. Also in the scheme is a theatre light, lamp table and mirror from Hunter Furniture as well as curtain fabrics from Textilia.

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Accessories: Te Timatanga Hou glass art, Bird cushion, Alpine Brunher rug, from Essenze. Sierra buffet, from Hunter Furniture. Ora pendant, from The Lighting Centre.

words: Vicki Holder
pictures: Mark Heaslip
illustration: Malcolm White

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