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Colour connections inside and out

From the Resene decorating blog

We do love indoor-outdoor flow in most of our houses; that connection to outside, whether it’s to an ocean view, a city street or a beautiful garden, gives us all a lift – and can make our homes feel lighter, brighter and bigger.

But how do we make the most of that flow, and ensure the connection is emphasised with colour choices and design ideas?

Considering the colours found in your garden and outdoor areas, when you’re planning your interior colour palette (or vice versa) can be a simple and very effective way to create a cohesive finished home that looks good and makes you feel great.

Outdoor furniture and accessories painted blue

Painting furniture and accessories can be a simple way to connect your outdoor colour scheme with the inside.

Weatherboards painted in Resene Carefree, deck stained in Resene Woodsman Uluru, table in Resene Blue Chill, chairs and coat rack in Resene Calypso, rug in Resene Coast and planters in Resene Blue Chill and Resene Tarawera. Project by Megan Harrison Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

A on-trend dark home exterior

On-trend dark home exteriors work well with deep green planting.

Weatherboards painted in Resene Nocturnal, deck stained in Resene Woodsman Uluru, large pot in Resene Nocturnal, tray in Resene Waiouru, outdoor light and bubble sculpture rods in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect and bubbles in Resene Alabaster. Chairs and table from Danske Møbler. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

Bringing the outside in

The key to good colour flow between inside and out is your windows, which interior designer Megan Harrison-Turner says you treat much as you would a favourite artwork.

Bringing what is outside, inside is a great design premise. If you treat your windows as kaleidoscopic pieces of art it will help keep the feel of your room as connected to the outside, rather than clashing.

“The view through your windows is changing through the day and through the seasons. You get the movement of light as well as the changes in your garden.”

Home exterior with organic wood tones

Organic, natural looking wood tones can blend beautifully with both planting and decor. Rear wall stained with Resene Woodsman Smokey Ash with deck in Resene Woodsman Tiri, screen and large planter painted in Resene Ironsand and table and small pit in Resene Touchstone. Screen from Mitre 10, chairs, light and small lamps from Jardin, shoes from Good Thing. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

To make the most of that variety of colour and inspiration, Megan suggests treating the window view much as you would a piece of art, by picking out key colours and echoing them through the house on decor pieces like rugs and cushions.

If you have a tropical-hued garden of warm greens and some bright colours, she suggests trying botanical shades like Resene Caper, Resene Soft Apple, Resene Pale Leaf and Resene Timber Green in interior spaces to continue the fresh, vibrant garden feel inside.

If your rooms look out over more greyed or sage-toned greenery like feijoa and olive trees, or flaxes try muted interior shades like Resene Harp, Resene Secrets, Resene Mangrove, Resene Tasman or Resene Half Emerge.

Look to your flowers for bursts of colour that you can repeat inside like dusky rose Resene Valentine, deep red Resene Dynamite or creamy Resene Double Pearl Lusta.

Taking the inside out

When it comes to planning a garden after you’ve come up with an interior colour palette, the same principles apply, only this time look for ways to add splashes of plant colour that reflect your rooms.

Resene colour expert Meryl Southey says the best outdoor spaces, including the garden, are those that work as an extension of a home interior.

“Consider the architectural design of your home, the setting, and the theme you are creating or have created inside,” she says. “This will lend itself to what design, colours and plants to bring outdoors.”

A cohesive indoor outdoor flow

Keeping a pared-back palette and using tonally similar shades will give you indoor-outdoor flow that feels cohesive. Textured exterior wall painted in Resene Resitex Plastercote in Resene Foggy Grey, bench seat in Resene Foggy Grey, deck in Resene Woodsman Mid Greywash, chair is Resene Awol, small side table in Resene Nirvana, table pot and large planter in Resene Turtle Green, medium planter in Resene Fawn Green, small planter in Resene Awol and planter holders in Resene Clover with tins in Resene Fawn Green. Interior walls in Resene Miso, floor is Resene Thorndon Cream, vase in Resene Clover and tealight holder in Resene Fawn Green. Sofa and chair from Danske Møbler, throw, print and green linen cushion from H&M, leaf cushions from Briscoes. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick.

When you think about interior colours for different rooms, you are also thinking about how natural or artificial lighting will affect that colour, as well as whether you want the room to feel warmer, cooler, brighter, darker, larger or smaller.

“Once you have had a think about what colour you might like in that room, then look to the garden to see if there is a colour that can be added or repeated inside,” Meryl says.

“Our focus on wellbeing and valuing nature is bringing with it a trend for more colour and vegetation in the garden, including natural weeds and wildflowers. That gives plenty of scope for accent colours within the home.”

She suggests trying those organic botanical shades as accents on everything from walls and furniture to cabinetry and decor objects.

“And if lots of colour in the garden or home is not your thing, complex earthy palettes, with structural elements and lots of texture, both inside and outside, will help to create cohesion between the house and garden,” Meryl says.

Try on-trend earthy shades like Resene Domino, Resene Piazza or Resene Desert Sand.

Exterior contrasts

When it comes to choosing paint or stain colours for your house that suit your garden, whether it’s your house exterior or areas like fences and decks, the sky's the limit.

Sometimes literally, says Megan, citing the vivid cobalt blue, known as Majorelle Blue, of the famous Yves Saint Laurent house in Marrakesh which makes for a vibrant backdrop to the tropical desert garden. To try that bold look at home experiment with Resene Plan B or Resene Cobalt.

Dramatic contrasts between a home’s exterior and the garden are becoming more and more popular, but, says Megan, you don’t need to go to bright extremes to get a high impact finish.

She points to the rise in popularity of dark and black exteriors which look fantastic paired with sage or bright greens, and deep reds in the garden. Try Resene Invincible or Resene Bokara Grey then add pots and colour accents dotted through the garden in Resene Green Days, Resene Pacifika or Resene Pohutukawa.

When it comes to decking and fences, Megan suggests trying darker wood stain colours that have an organic, earthy note, such as Resene Crowshead or greyed brown Resene Iroko, that will connect your wood surfaces with the garden.

If you have a coastal property, she advises trying washed stains like Resene Woodsman Greywash to give surfaces that sea-bleached silvered look to match the surroundings.

Bolds or brights aren’t for everybody and Meryl says opting for popular neutrals is a smart way to make your house a subtle, complementary backdrop if you want your garden to be front and centre.

Top tip:  When choosing a colour for your exterior consider going for a strong shade as sunlight can make some shades appear much paler.


If you don’t have the time, space, budget or inclination to re-work colour schemes inside or out for more colour connection, you can still build cohesion with the addition of small accent pieces like planters and ornamental pieces, Meryl says.

Features like furniture, trellis and planters are usually easy to paint with Resene testpots, and will add enough colour to reflect hints of your indoor palette outside. To soften concrete surfaces Megan also suggests painting on games like hopscotch or even twister-style games to add colour, as well as fun activities for the kids.

Megan’s top tips for planters are to put some thought into how many you have, and keep to a limited colour palette. “If you have two of something the same there is immediately a formality about it, even if the design is quite casual. If that doesn’t appeal opt for two similar planters in different sizes which will look intentional but not as formal.

“Try painting them in colours that are tonally related to your interiors, or your garden, rather than the same.”

Resene Valentine

Resene Woodsman Mid Greywash

Resene Piazza

Resene Green Days

Resene Plan B

Resene Invincible

March 11, 2023

For help choosing colours to suit your projects, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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