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Flip the look – go bold on the walls

From the Resene decorating blog

Here are some ideas and tips for successfully decorating with bold walls.

Safety so often prevails when we come to choose colours for decorating our homes. Not without good reason. Factors like cost, resale value and a lack of confidence in our own design skills mean often we opt for the safety of neutral walls, floors and ceilings that we can add ‘moveable flair’ to with soft furnishings, art and furniture.

A lounge painted in warm tones

The warm tones of Resene Cinnamon painted on the wall in this living room makes the neutral toned couch the focal point of the room. The effect is emphasised with Resene Colorwood Natural timber stain on the shelves and coffee table. Furniture from Nood.

But do you have a hankering to try something a little more bold? To mix things up? The simplest – and perhaps safest – way to extend your design flair is to flip that decorating equation around. Choose one bold Resene colour you love on the walls and keep your layers of furnishings and fittings to neutral shades.

It’s a simple and fun way to add some personality and glamour to your space. Here are some ideas and tips for successfully decorating with bold walls:

Go for high impact:  Keep your darker colour schemes for just one or two rooms in your home. It prevents everything becoming too sombre and it boosts the impact of the rooms you do decorate this way. The contrast with the rest of the house is part of the point.

Simple needn’t mean safe:  Opting for a limited colour palette can be a good way to really showcase your chosen feature colour. Try a bold shade on the walls with a fresh, sharp neutral on ceilings and trim to give your walls maximum impact. Then add touches of a highlight colour to make the room really pop. For example, bold walls in a deep magenta such as Resene Dynamite will work well with the crispness of Resene White, then add highlights in the fresh yellow of Resene Pale Prim or something more unexpected like Resene Lime.

Bold doesn’t mean dark:  When we talk about flipping the ‘safer’ decorating option of neutral walls with bold accents in furnishings and features, it doesn’t have to mean going for a deep, dark colour on the walls. Some rooms don’t lend themselves to darker tones. But you can still mix things up. Instead, try going for bold and bright. Instead of deep forest greens, how about a grassy tone such as Resene Bilbao, or instead of dark red how about the bold berry of Resene Shiraz?

A cool blue lounge

Cool, breezy blue Resene Frozen on these walls paired with a neutral couch and a floor in Resene Alabaster gives this living room a fresh Hamptons feel. Rope table in Resene Quarter Frozen, rattan shelf in Resene Bali Hai, top shelf small pale container in Resene Alabaster and blue container in Resene Quarter Frozen, second shelf large round basket in Resene Frozen and small basket in Resene Blue Moon, plant pot with palm in Resene Casper, rectangle baskets in Resene Frozen (large) and Resene Casper (small) and jute rug in Resene Breathless. Wall hanging from Flux Boutique, euro pillowcases from EziBuy, other cases from Foxtrot Home. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Use optical illusions:  It might seem counterintuitive but darker colours on the walls can actually make rooms feel larger. Done right dark walls actually recede from the eye – appearing further away than they really are. Use warm tones with a light colour painted on ceilings and flooring, and simple contrasting furnishings to maximise the effect.

Bounce the light:  Reflective surfaces in your bold room will help bring variation and movement to your colour choice – particularly if you’ve gone for warm, dark shades. It doesn’t need to be a lot but a mirror or splashes of metallics in light fittings or other decorative features will help bounce light around the room. A bold light fitting in a pale contrast to your bold wall colour is another easy way to give your colour choices maximum impact. To help with reflecting light – and a touch of old-school glamour – experiment with a semi-gloss finish on the walls or the trim instead of matt.

Rethink neutrals:  When you’re thinking about paler shades to showcase bolder or darker walls, you don’t need to limit your ideas to traditional creams and whites. Pale shades from the same colour group as your bold shade are a clever way to double down on your colour choices and create an inviting layered effect. For example, if you choose a bold burnt orange such as Resene Cinnamon for your walls, think about trim in the pale peach tones of Resene Sazerac. For a bold dark wall in Resene Arthouse, try contrast features in the pale pink of Resene Vanilla Ice.

A bold green luxury lounge

Diagonal battens in an accent colour add extra boldness – and luxury to this living area.

Walls painted in Resene Waiouru with battens in Resene Gravel, floor in Resene Quarter Spanish White, large coffee table in Resene Clover, small side table, cabinet and tray on the coffee table in Resene Gravel, plant pot in Resene Gravel with a design in Resene Waiouru, tall vase on cabinet in Resene Black and other vases and accessories painted in Resene Clover, Resene Dingley, Resene Solitaire, Resene Gravel, Resene Biscotti, Resene Thistle and Resene Highland. Sofa from Contempa, rug from Citta, throw and linen cushions from Shut The Front Door and grey cushion from The Warehouse. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

A lounge with stained deep dark blue walls

Deep, dark blue stained walls in Resene Colorwood Woody Bay are given a lighter touch with tonal paler shades to keep this space warm and inviting.

The lighter floors are painted in Resene Sea Fog. Sideboard in Resene Casper, coffee table in Resene Indian Ink with Resene Sea Fog wiped on for a washed effect, pendant lightshade in Resene Sea Fog, textured pot on the sideboard and wooden screen in Resene Felix with a washed effect in Resene Sea Fog, tall vase in Resene Indian Ink, coasters in Resene Casper and bowl on table in Resene Thunder Road. Sofa, chair and rug from Freedom, artwork by Simply Creative, jug from Citta, basket, faux palm, cushions and throw from Adairs. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Pay attention to the ceiling and floor:  The typical ‘rule’ for finishing a room with dark or bold walls is a light, bright white ceiling as this will help open the room out, and get a receding effect from the walls. But like all decorating rules, it’s made to be broken. If you have high ceilings in a colder room, you could try a darker shade on the ceiling for cosiness and a sense of enclosure. Darker colours on the walls can also be an effective way to showcase wooden floors. If you have beautiful grain in your floorboards, accentuate it with Resene Colorwood interior wood stain. Don’t be afraid to go dark with shades like Resene Colorwood Pitch Black or Resene Colorwood English Walnut. The texture and grain of the wood will mean the floor holds its own against dark or bold walls. If you want to carve out a reading nook or office space in a larger room, painting a corner, including the ceiling and floor in the same bold colour is an effective way to create the illusion of a separate space. It can also be a fun way to showcase a dramatic piece of furniture that contrasts with your wall colour.

Play in the bathroom:  One of the most fun places to experiment with bold colours on the walls, and even the floor and ceiling, is the bathroom. So many bathrooms default to being a largely white or neutral room simply because that’s the colour of the main bathroom fittings such as cabinets, shower units and baths. But to create a space that feels more like a retreat than purely a functional room, try warm, dark walls in a shade like Resene Bokara Grey or Resene Blue Night that will really make your white fittings pop.

July 26, 2021

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