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when eco goes bold

From Habitat magazine - issue 26, autumn/winter 2017

Going eco isn’t all about muted browns and greens. This family go for bold.

Anya Mowll is a visual artist so when she declared a ban on white and beige in the interior of the house she was planning with husband Richard he listened, appreciative of her sense of colour. But when their home was chosen as the Residential Interior winner of last year’s Resene Total Colour Awards they were astonished, bemused that the palette that is so personal to their family, lifestyle and surrounds could receive public approval.

“We wanted strong bold colours, but they are not for everyone, they are very personal to us and our children, so it quite shocked us when the house won an award for our colour choice.”

Interior colour was as critical to the Mowlls as their determination to build a low-energy house and it was a matter of finding a designer that shared those beliefs.

“We talked to four architects but it was Richard Wright of Aonui Architecture who understood us best. We shared the same credo about sustainability, low energy and colour; he was delighted that we wanted strong interior colours.”

The Mowlls carefully planned their home for four years, combining environmentally friendly principles with bold colour.

It’s been a long journey to create, afford and build the first stage of the Mowll family home on the 1.3 hectare site on the hills above Tawa, Wellington. With a cautious approach and the desire to contain the budget, the project took more than four years. The brief was drawn up on two A4 pieces of paper. As costs were estimated, the project was pared back and defined into two phases.

“We started with a log cabin idea and that has translated into timber ceilings, we really wanted an extra bedroom, bathroom and office which is now stage two, but what we have is 175 square metres of home which includes Anya’s workshop.”

A workshop that is, critically, separated from the house. Says Anya: “I have to leave the house to go to my workshop, there is no internal connecting door and that mattered to me, so I clearly leave home to go to work.”

As a ceramic artist, colour, shape and texture are Anya’s world and she is very clear about her preferred palette in various spaces.

“I started in the kitchen where I chose Resene Sunflower for the splashback and Resene Toto and the rest of the palette radiated out from there. We selected the colours before the house was built so it was interesting in the building stage when the house was plastered to see what it looked like in white! I lived in a rental for eight years where every wall was white or beige and that was enough for me.”

Colour selection started in the kitchen with Resene Sunflower for the splashback and Resene Toto. The main wall colour is Resene Golden Glow, with Resene Rough N Tumble on the bulkhead and Resene Thunderbird to the left.

“The architect helped us by creating a colour palette on a piece of wood. He had the wood, the benchtops, the plywood colour of the ceilings, a section of floor tile and from that base we were able to choose colours using the Resene colour swatches. Admittedly a few hours went in to choosing colours. In each session we’d perhaps spend an hour or two and decide on perhaps two colours which we’d lock in and the choices gradually grew, organically, over time and with much thought.”

Richard encouraged his clients to have a bold colour on the front door. was chosen, used also on a kitchen wall where the strength of the colour makes a clear separation between the kitchen and living areas.

A central bulkhead at the ceiling pitch conceals a ventilation system, its lower level accentuated by using Resene Rough N Tumble against the plywood ceilings.

Lounge photo
A central bulkhead at the ceiling pitch conceals a ventilation system, its lower level accentuated by using Resene Rough N Tumble against the plywood ceilings Resene Thunderbird. The colour is continued behind the built-in plywood book shelving. Other walls are in Resene Golden Glow.

Alternative solutions:
Mid Century GlamA Natural feel

“We’ve continued that colour as a backdrop to the built-in plywood book shelving so the edging of the plywood, which is so appealing, stands out.”

The bathroom cabinetry is in Resene Hullabaloo, the walls in Resene Edgewater, and floor tiles in a chequered pattern. “I was very hesitant about the patterning,” recalls Richard, “but Anya was adamant… the tilers were very clever, so all thanks to them as well as Anya’s artistic eye.”

The way colour was chosen in the children’s bedrooms still makes the couple laugh, as Anya explains. “One bedroom is the result of asking one 12-year-old boy who was busy on his computer. Ilya pointed somewhat randomly at a colour (Resene Feijoa) keen to get back to his computer. Our daughter Eva took more time. She selected Resene Reef for the walls and Resene Perfume for the cupboard doors.”

The bathroom cabinetry is in Resene Hullabaloo, the wall in Resene Edgewater, the basin surrounded by American Cherrywood and floor tiles are laid in a chequered pattern. | Son Ilya hastily chose Resene Feijoa for his bedroom walls between computer sessions.

What is currently the master bedroom is in Resene Golden Glow, a colour used on walls throughout the house, and cupboards in Resene Moby. “Our bedroom will become a rumpus room in stage two so we were considerate of the area’s ultimate use when choosing the palette. Richard made a clever suggestion. One wall is a wall of cupboard storage and he suggested painting some of the cupboard doors in Resene Moby and some in the wall colour to prevent the storage becoming too prominent.”

The exterior ply has been finished in Resene Waterborne Woodsman Natural wood stain and the macrocarpa weatherboards in Resene Waterborne Woodsman Treehouse wood stain, chosen so the home fits into the environment. The aim is to have the entire 1.3 hectares planted in natives to restore the birdlife.

The exterior is finished in Resene Woodsman stains so that the house fits in with the environment. | Richard encouraged his clients to have a bold colour, Resene Thunderbird, on the front door.

“We did stretch the budget over one thing – the gabion walls that meet guests arriving to the house. They are filled with rock from the Horokiwi Quarry, just two kilometres away, so it really is local rock. Our architect Richard Wright said they’d connect the house to the ground. He’s right. It feels like the house has grown from the ground, it’s not just arrived and in isolation.”

Perhaps the irony in the whole project is that Anya’s workshop walls are in Resene Alabaster. “No neutrals in the house, but in my workshop I need the light colour to reflect the light, so in the end there was a place for white,” chuckles Anya.

Words: Jill Wild
Pictures: Jason Mann

Alternative solution - mid century glam

Muted greens and moody teals exude Hollywood elegance

Jodi Newnham from Mid Century Swag suggests this alternative scheme:

I approached this design like I would my artwork canvases, looking at composition, colour, and layering textures and materials. The colour palette challenges the adage that ‘blue and green must never be seen together’ by incorporating these colours in subtle tones and varying depths, using Resene Thistle and Resene Clay Creek with deep blue. I like to use a Yin and Yang style philosophy, looking at the interplay between surfaces, texture and pattern: the midnight blue velvet sofas framed in mirrored chrome; dark green textured chairs with contrasting black arms, and a combination of cool and warm metallics. The two different patterned anaglypta wallpapers create visual interest but in a cohesive way. I love designing spaces that have a modern eclecticism to them. Mixing and layering vintage pieces with contemporary designs adds real soul.


Mid Century Glam Lounge
Texture and muted sophisticated colours add to the mid-century appeal of this room. The ceiling and walls are wallpapered in Anaglypta RD124 then painted in Resene Clay Creek, while a feature wall behind the shelves is wallpapered in Anaglypta RD177 then painted in Resene Thistle. The parquet floor is finished in Resene Colorwood Dark Ebony wood stain. Products include a mid-century John Crichton mosaic coffee table and Atomic side tables, an Elle Cube Bookcase from Soren Liv, a Volcano rug from Source Mondial and Glimmer curtain fabric in Pewter from James Dunlop Textiles.

Did you know... that anaglypta or paint-on wallpaper is a great way to not only add subtle texture to a room but also to cover any wall imperfections? See the options at your Resene ColorShop.


Alternative solution - a natural feel

Casual, natural colours create a welcoming room

Designer Sarah Burrows suggests this alternative scheme:

I wanted to retain the relaxed feel of this room, using a related colour scheme of shades of green, by refinishing the ceiling in Resene Colorwood Whitewash and by designing a bookcase in plywood – this is a very in-vogue material. Using the muted ash green, Resene Half Linen, and the stronger rustic tones of Resene Grass Hopper helps to bring the feeling of nature inside.

The warmer tones of Resene Good As Gold on the rear wall balance the scheme while stained timber elements dramatise the space and help create mood. Using this colour to stencil a leaf pattern onto the side wall adds another dimension to the room. The floor rug echoes the deep green walls, while comfortable seating combines with patterned cushions to make this room warm and welcoming. Simple roller blinds are used on the windows, from the Resene Origin collection in Resene Parchment.


A natural feel...
A scheme of Resene Grass Hopper, Resene Half Linen and Resene Good As Gold is warmed by timber, and a stencil on the side wall adds extra interest. The ceiling is finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, and the floor in Resene Colorwood Natural wood stain. Products include a Limon rug and cushions from Furtex, a Hello pendant light from Lighthouse, a Tavolo Terramare Coffee Table from David Shaw, and Resene Origin roller blinds in Resene Parchment.

Did you know... that roller blinds from the Resene Origin collection are colour-matched to 12 popular Resene wall colours? See

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