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it takes two

From Habitat magazine - issue 24

Design and colour carry equal weight in this stunning Wellington home.

When building their new home, colour was as critically important as architectural design for this Wellington couple. They regarded the two as equally important, to be worked on and developed in tandem to create their special family home high on the hills above the Hutt Valley.

Modern orange and white kitchen
The colour journey for this house began with the kitchen, painted in Resene Trinidad (orange), Resene Banana Split (yellow) and Resene Kumutoto (unseen, aqua).

The project was an opportunity to explore their appreciation and enjoyment of strong colour, so once the design was finalised with architect Gerald Parsonson, homeowner Monica spent hours poring over Resene colour options. "We had taken our colour preferences from pieces of furniture we love. I ended up with a stack of about 40 A2-sized sheets of colours my husband Mike and I liked, and with those in hand we headed off to discuss them with architect Gerald."

Neutral lounge
The only neutral-coloured space is the main living room, where the natural elements like concrete and timber are left to shine against Resene Bianca walls.

It was an intense couple of sessions between clients and architect, all keen to make the colour choices playful, unique and interesting. The colour scheme started from the heart of the house, the kitchen, where shades of orange (Resene Trinidad), yellow (Resene Banana Split) and aqua (Resene Kumutoto) were selected.

Light green bedroom
The bedrooms are all painted in different colours. These two are Resene Boulevard and Resene Crisp Green.

"Downstairs we've used big colours against the neutrals and naturals of the timber ceiling and concrete floor in the kitchen, and timber floor and neutral walls in the other living and dining areas." The bold colour choices continue upstairs with bedrooms in a range of calming greens and an earthy terracotta.

Monica says the Resene website and the Resene ColourMatch app completely transformed her decision making and ability to be informed when it came to the effect of different colours in varying rooms. "It was amazing, I got the whole colour scheme done. Even the upstairs bathroom in Resene Pulse is perfect. The app is fantastically helpful and… it was fun."

Green bedroom
The bedrooms are all painted in different colours. These two are Resene Boulevard and Resene Crisp Green.

A neutral palette was never on this couple's radar. Monica had seen a kitchen she loved in primary colours and she says Gerald completely understood and appreciated her thoughts.

"That's why we chose him as an architect. We talked to a few architects when we were looking to build, but the thing that stood out about Gerald was that he was a good listener. He somehow makes you feel the process is a collaboration rather than just the client providing a brief. So for us it was a process that involved lots of to-ing and fro-ing and plenty of consultation."

Blue home entry
Blue staircase
The entry hall and stairwell have a continuous wall in Resene Bluff, with a front door in Resene Streetwise.

Today, 18 months after moving in, the house continues to offer surprises for the family both in architectural terms and colour. "We get a lot of pleasure from the different angles, it works so well on the site, it's very peaceful and a surprising thing is that because Gerald has been so clever with his design we have outside areas protected from the wind regardless of whichever way the wind is blowing. So we can live with the doors open, which we do a lot."

Says Gerald: "The courtyard is hunkered in to the hill to create a sheltered area and when outside you can still enjoy views of the harbour." The five-bedroom, 299 square metre home rises over half levels, with a number of living areas to accommodate children of different ages. It won a Master Builder's award for Scotty's Construction.

Book shelf and bathroom
The mosaic tile splashback in the bathroom is complemented with cabinets in Resene Pulse. The shelving unit is in Resene Rock Spray (orange), Resene Smoky Green (behind the shelves) and Resene Ecru White (on the uprights). The bathroom door architrave is in Resene Taupe Grey.

Says Gerald: "With the owners' appreciation of colour we've achieved a playfulness with our palette. People should remember, bright colours make you happy; it's so easy to default to shades of whites and greys but that makes a house look like any other and in this home the owners were prepared to be bold. They came into our office with a massive stack of colours they'd selected and we worked through with much discussion to create some sort of colour story."

Gerald says he has always appreciated the work of Le Corbusier who he regards as one of the forefathers of colour use in architecture. As Le Corbusier wrote: "Man needs colours to live. It is an element as necessary as water and fire."

Open plan kitchen and dining room
Resene Kumutoto colours the wall cabinets in the kitchen while the chairs in the dining room echo the strong colours of the kitchen. The lower cabinets are Resene Trinidad.

"Downstairs the colours give a juiciness to the living area," comments Gerald. "In the kitchen we've used Resene Trinidad on cabinetry accented by the sharp lines of the stainless benchtops. Resene Banana Split at the courtyard end of the kitchen reaches from the concrete floor to the wooden ceiling and Resene Kumutoto we've used on a divider between the kitchen and dining area."

Blue and green hallway
*Hallway and door looks

The same primary colours are reflected in dining room chairs. The palette is set against a neutral background of walls in Resene Bianca; doors, horizontal architraves, frames and panels in Resene Taupe Grey and vertical architraves in Resene Ecru White. The hall and stairwell have a continuous wall in Resene Bluff.

"Upstairs we wanted to make the area more restful so we've used Resene Crisp Green, a calm colour from the Resene Karen Walker range, with one wall in Resene Imprint. There are also bedrooms in Resene Smoky Green, Resene Robin Egg Blue, Resene Boulevard and Resene Tuscany making them feel quite connected colourwise."

The upper level activity room is in Resene Smoky Green with shelving in Resene Ecru White and Resene Rock Spray.

Homeowner Monica says the boundary between the inside and out is blurred both in architectural terms and colour use, just as she and husband Mike had hoped. "It's a thrill, a home that is both exciting and yet peaceful. Every day I come home I feel like I'm coming home to a bach, a place of tranquillity, of peace yet also inspiration."

*Get the hallway look with Resene Crisp Green and Resene Imprint. Get the door look with Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Taupe Grey.

Accessories/credits: Balustrade crafted by Scotty's Construction, Finished in Resene Qristal Clear Poly-Flat. Architect: Parsonson Architects, Mosaics: Tile Warehouse.

Alternative solution – come on in

dusky pinks bring intimacy to this open-plan space

Designer Anita Thomas suggests this alternative scheme:


The very on-trend dusky shades of Resene Soulmate and Resene Renaissance transform this very open-plan area into a more intimate, cosy space. The dark-stained ceiling and ash parquet floor frame the area and enhance the feeling of enclosure, while the low-hung trio of lights help define the dining zone and keep it visually distinct from the kitchen. The white kitchen cabinets and black benchtop allow the wall colours to be the feature and keep the space from feeling too feminine, as do the strong architectural lines of the table and chairs.

Alternative solution 1

I always like to integrate outdoor and indoor areas, so while the Resene Dusted Blue garden walls have a similar tonal base and quality to the pinks used inside, it also means that the courtyard retains a discrete feel.

Dusky pink walls in Resene Renaissance and Resene Soulmate are a fashionable treatment for this dining and kitchen area. A ceiling stained in Resene Colorwood Crowshead adds intimacy while kitchen cabinets in Resene Half Sea Fog recede and allow the walls to be the feature. Exterior garden walls are in Resene Dusted Blue. Other products featured include pendant lights from Hank Lighting.

Top tip: If you love pastel colours but fear they'll look too lolly-like, choose a duskier version of the colour instead, and team it with crisp white or black accents or trims.

phone 021 154 2774   web

Accessories: Window seat fabric Trove in colour Onyx and Baja in colour Beluga, from Textilia. Moss Bunny, from Freedom Furniture. Parquet floor made from new and recycled timbers, finished in Resene Aquaclear, from James Henry. Campa Dining Table and Chairs, from Hunter Furniture. Kaleidoscope Cushion, from Me And My Trend.

Alternative solution – moody mono

a dramatic scheme is warmed with natural elements

Rachel Tabb of Bubble Interiors suggests this alternative scheme:


I love the natural greenery and stunning views out from the dining room in this space, and wanted to create a more subtle, calm interior space to complement this.

I am a huge fan of natural polished concrete floors, so retained this and have added to it with natural materiality. While it's a mostly monochromatic scheme with walls in charcoal Resene Grey Friars and a ceiling in Resene Quarter Alabaster, I feel it still achieves warmth with the timber, copper and hemp rug.

Alternative solution 2

The stunning Moooi feature pendant I have always wanted to use, and I chose it here for its inspiration from the heracleum plant's branches and leaves; it's a feature piece but with its lightness and transparency, it doesn't block the view.

A striking look is created with walls and kitchen cabinetry painted in Resene Grey Friars, the plywood ceiling painted in Resene Quarter Alabaster, and accents of pale timber on the benchtop and furniture. Products used include a Splay Table from Paper Plan and Portobello Chairs from Ico Traders.

Top tip: Protect concrete floors and benchtops from wear and tear with Resene Concrete Wax.

phone 07 574 2512   email

Accessories: Armadillo & Co Nest Weave Awning Stripe Rug, from The Ivy House. Timothy John High Sidekick Barstool, Tall Brass Geo Vase, Mercury Linen Cushion, from Paper Plane. Heracleum 11 Small by Moooi, from ECC Lighting & Furniture.

words: Jill Wild
pictures: Paul McCredie
illustration: Malcolm White

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