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Top twenty colours

We're always asked what the most popular Resene colours are. Knowing the most popular colours can help you choose a colour you know will stand the test of time.

View Resene's most popular colours in 2022

The Resene Top 20 colours features popular Resene whites and neutrals, reflecting their broad acceptance and use on a vast array of projects both inside and out. These hues are generally teamed with brighter or stronger accents and features for a complete colour scheme.

It seems whites and neutrals always fill our top 20 list, but even within those hues there are still constant movements. We've seen black edged whites slowly take over the top 20 colours, with Resene Black White and variants continuing to grow in popularity.

The Resene Top 20 list is based on sales of colours for the previous calendar year. Earlier top 20 rankings were based on testpot sales.  › Previous top 20

Based on sales, the most popular Resene colours are...

Resene Black White
no. 1
Resene Black White

A calcite grey white, chalky and soft.

Resene Alabaster
no. 2
Resene Alabaster

A near white with a light blackened edge.

Resene Half Black White
no. 3
Resene Half Black White

A cool white with a mysterious shadowy edge to it.

Resene Bokara Grey
no. 4
Resene Bokara Grey

A charcoal black, warmed with yellow and red.

Resene Double Alabaster
no. 5
Resene Double Alabaster

A bisque white, delicately shaded towards grey.

Resene Sea Fog
no. 6
Resene Sea Fog

A versatile white with a hint of grey.

Resene Quarter Black White
no. 7
Resene Quarter Black White

A white with a nebulous hint of grey hiding in its depths.

Resene White Pointer
no. 8
Resene White Pointer

A diffused neutral, a stark off-white with a hint of black.

Resene Half Sea Fog
no. 9
Resene Half Sea Fog

A barely there black edged white.

Resene Merino
no. 10
Resene Merino

A light and versatile off-white with a green oxide undertone.

Resene Grey Friars
no. 11
Resene Grey Friars

A mountain range grey.

Resene Half Rice Cake
no. 12
Resene Half Rice Cake

A clean starchy white with the tiniest touch of yellow in it.

Resene Double Black White
no. 13
Resene Double Black White

A shadow of moody greyed white, deliberate and dense.

Resene Shadow Match
no. 14
Resene Shadow Match

A black with a shadow of brown.

Resene Rice Cake
no. 15
Resene Rice Cake

A sharp clean yellow white, tasty with strong colours.

Resene Half Alabaster
no. 16
Resene Half Alabaster

A hint of blackened white, an understated backdrop.

Resene Half Fossil
no. 17
Resene Half Fossil

A versatile warm chameleon-like beige.

Resene Half White Pointer
no. 18
Resene Half White Pointer

A shadow of grey, white and taupe, genteel and well mannered.

Resene Ironsand
no. 19
Resene Ironsand

A smoky brown grey.

Resene Quarter Wheatfield
no. 20
Resene Quarter Wheatfield

A sharp husk of creamy white, slightly green edged.

These colours are part of the Resene Total Colour System featuring thousands of colours. This is a far cry from Resene's first Wellington factory when only six colours were available.

Order samples online: Resene testpots | Resene A4 drawdown swatches

Or view colours in the online colour library or at your local Resene ColorShop.

A whiter shade of pale

If the unique properties of white are used skilfully, it is easy to create warm-soft and cool-crisp colour combinations. Too often it is chosen by default with no regard for its image – 'White is Right'!

Ceiling? White. Window sashes? White. Picket fences? White. Door and skirtings? White.

Some famous interior designers have made their mark in the world of design by the almost exclusive use of white. Syrie Maugham springs to mind in the period between the 1st and 2nd World Wars and latterly Ralph Lauren. He is quoted as saying, 'In my own life and in my home, white is everywhere'.

White need not look stark – subtle off whites are very easy to live with. Paintings, furniture, fabric and plants add their own colour, texture and energy as does timber flooring and architectural detailing. Walls painted white allow other features to have dominance – i.e. furniture will stand out more in a white room as will a beautiful view to the outdoor landscape.

White has many moods. It is associated with light and can make spaces appear brighter, however it is wise to remember it is essentially cool. The south facing room that has bad light will not suddenly be fixed with a coat of white paint. In fact, it may end up looking even darker and chillier. This phenomenon is due to the reflectiveness of white. White is highly reflective, maximising any available light, thus drawing attention to any deficiencies. A more effective way to lighten a room is to paint the ceilings and window frames pure white to direct all natural light into the room.

In living rooms, whites can look arty and comfortable, or cool and elegant. If the look you favour is rustic simplicity, combine textured fabrics with natural materials like stone, wood and brick. If an elegant look is preferred, combine whites with reflective sheens and light filmy drapes. In the bathroom, a timeless crystalline look can be developed with white tiles, velvety walls and wooden or marble floors. It is at once holistic and cleansing, reflecting the watery medium.

For a touch of White Magic use gloss and matt paint in wide stripes on walls and hang crystal prisms in the windows and watch the sunlight make rainbows every morning.

So think white – right? Right!

Decorating with whites and neutrals...

See the Resene Whites & Neutrals colour chart and The Range Whites & Neutrals for a great range of popular Resene whites and neutrals hues.

When choosing neutrals, one quick way to create a colour scheme is to choose strengths of the same colour, such as full strength on the walls, double strength on the doors (helps to hide fingermarks) and eighth or quarter strength on the ceiling.

Vary the sheen level surface to surface to accentuate the colour differences. Try Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen on walls, Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel on trims and joinery and Resene SpaceCote Flat on ceilings.

Resene test pot with see thru lidAlways try out your colours using a Resene testpot in the area you plan to paint before you start your painting project – that’s the best way to confirm the colour looks right before you start painting. You can also can order drawdowns online.

View popular Resene colours: Top 20 | Reds | Oranges | Yellows | Greens | Blues | Violets | Browns | Greys/blacks | Wood stains

Resene has changed the way it measures and creates electronic colours – read more


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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.

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