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Embracing optimism

From the Resene decorating blog

Here are some ideas for embracing joy in interiors for everybody from devotees of colour and pattern to devout minimalists.

One of the most fun recent interior design trends is optimism. What that means in simplest terms is embracing fun and cheerful looks that just make you feel good when you’re in them. It can mean adding splashes of bold bright colour, playing with shapes and patterns or building backdrops for fun, eye-catching pieces of decor.

An uplifitng botanical green lounge

Botanical greens celebrate nature and add an uplifting note to this living room. Feature wall painted in Resene Rivergum, with other walls in Resene Quarter Akaroa and floor in Resene Akaroa. Hall table and vase in Resene Rivergum with bowl in Resene Black, shelves and coffee table in Resene Black, plant pot in Resene Quarter Akaroa and small vase in Resene Laurel. On the shelves the cubes are Resene Rainee and Resene Spanish Green and the plant pot is Resene Pumice. Sofa from Contempa, cushions from Freedom. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Optimistic design is ultimately going to be slightly different for everyone, as we all find different things uplifting, but the goal is to play with colours and looks that imbue spaces with your personality and imagination. The finished results should make you smile, give you an immediate mood boost to look at and give your guests something to talk about.

Here are some ideas for embracing joy in interiors for everybody from devotees of colour and pattern to devout minimalists.

Keeping it chic and simple

For Resene colour consultant Jackie Nicholls optimistic designs don’t have to mean sacrificing style and sophistication.

“Optimistic colours create a fresh and fun vibe but can be more stylish if you choose slightly complex colours.

“Colours that are very clear can appear a bit cold and lacking in character. Some of the latest Resene shades are beautiful colours with a twist,” she says.

Jackie suggests skipping primary or one-note colours for those that are more multi-dimensional, such as Resene Tropical which is a punchy mix of pink and orange, Resene Chenin, a soft citrusy yellow, or Resene Summer Green, a fresh blend of blue and green.

An uplifitng beautiful blue bedroom

These beautiful blue walls in Resene Epic, painted above the dado rail over Resene Wallpaper Collection RD5671, are given an uplifting boost by the contrasting tan and copper tones. Trim painted in Resene Toffee, two tables in Resene Pendragon, large vase in Resene Brown Sugar, bowl and small vase in Resene Double Blanc and floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash. The DIY artwork is painted in Resene Brown Sugar with hexagons in Resene Pendragon, Resene Toffee, Resene Epic and Resene Double Blanc. Bedlinen from Foxtrot Home, throw from Adairs, round cushion from Citta, square cushion from H&M Home. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

“These colours can be most effective in smaller amounts to provide a lively focal point in a room,” Jackie says. “You can use them in different ways of course. For example, you could try one of these colours on a ceiling in a small space which is a great way to add colour that’s not in your face.”

A coloured ceiling can be one way for those with a minimalist aesthetic to add extra optimism to their spaces without them feeling cluttered or visually busy. Try painting the oceanic blue of Resene Idyllic on a ceiling against icy white walls in Resene Aoraki for an uplifting cool and crisp finish.

Other ideas Jackie suggests for adding colourful optimism that won’t interfere with a simple minimalist finish is to paint a single piece of furniture in an uplifting shade or add colour inside a cupboard or small study nook that can be closed off.

“It’s fun to open up a usable corner or small room and be greeted by an uplifting colour. These are ways to add visual interest and optimism without overpowering the space.”

Uplifting outdoors

When choosing bolder, brighter colours outside, Jackie suggests testing with larger swatches each painted with a Resene testpot to make sure the colours work. “They can look very different on a sunny day compared to a cloudy day. You may find that the colours you choose need to be a touch deeper and earthier than you originally thought.”

Add whimsy to a room with wallpaper

Wallpaper can be a simple way to add whimsy or patterns to your rooms that make you happy and lift the whole space. Resene Wallpaper Collection 295138 adds a pretty, fresh note to this otherwise fairly minimalist seating area.

Pair it with Resene Alabaster, Resene Nero, Resene Gold metallic and touches of Resene Duck Egg Blue for an elegant, but joyful finish.

A vibrant dining room with pops of primary colour

Pops of primary red, blue and yellow add immediate vibrancy to a room.

The trick is to use them in well thought-out proportions so they add accents of optimism without the room feeling too busy. Back wall painted in Resene Triple Merino with side wall in Resene Anglaise, window frame in Resene Triple Merino, chairs in Resene Half Resolution Blue, Resene Anglaise and Resene Smashing, table in Resene Half Sea Fog, cabinet in Resene Spindle with shapes in Resene New York Pink, Resene Twine, Resene Smashing and Resene Half Resolution Blue, dish rack in Resene Spindle, shelf items in Resene Half Resolution Blue, Resene Spindle, Resene Anglaise and Resene New York Pink and floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash. Artwork from endemicworld, tea towel from Father Rabbit, dish rack from Citta, tableware from Country Road, cups from Freedom. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Outside furniture is the perfect thing to be more adventurous with, especially when you surround it with flowers and plants in similar tones for a fun and inviting finish.

“If you think of exterior spaces as another room and a chance to express your personality, you will get more enjoyment out of them,” she says.

Another way to add a splash of uplifting colour outdoors could be to treat one section of a fence or pergola just as you would a feature wall inside. If you’ve opted for a dark stain like Resene Woodsman Iroko, try a section of fence or exterior wall in an uplifting gold like Resene I Dare You or a subtle but rich red of Resene Very Berry. Add plenty of lush perennial green planting and vivid flowers for a vibrant and joyous look at any time of the year.

The joy of surprise

One of the simplest ways to add joy and optimism to any finished space is through the unexpected. For example, in a house that is almost entirely neutral and minimalist in its colour scheme with walls in popular off-white Resene White Pointer, there might be one room that is a celebration of your favourite colour; perhaps a sweet aquamarine like Resene Retreat or warm violet Resene Honey Flower.

These contrast colours don’t need to be bright. The optimism and joy in the finished look comes from the unexpected. The same effect can be achieved in a single monochrome room, where classic Resene Alabaster and Resene Black are interrupted by a single note of contrast on a chair or shelf in something dramatic like magenta Resene Lip Service or grass green Resene Bilbao.

Finding optimism in the unexpected can also come from simply combining two bolder colours you might not have considered as natural partners. Perhaps it’s teal blues and brick reds – try Resene Teal Blue with Resene Mexican Red, coral pink with emerald green – try Resene Green Pea with Resene Sakura, deep purples with rusted copper – try Resene Aubergine with Resene Korma or sea blues with vivid yellows – try Resene Ocean Waves with Resene Light Fantastic.

The light fantastic

Lots of natural light is an instant way to make a room more uplifting. Where you can, maximise your windows by pulling back curtains or raising blinds to bring light in. Where you’re battling against a room that is naturally darker, add bright sunshine shades like Resene Adrenalin or Resene Daylight on feature walls or showcase decor pieces and opt for good bright artificial lighting with a few mirrored or metallic surfaces to help bounce light around.

Of course you can also find joy and optimism in cosy spaces, so you could lean in to the darker nature of the room with walls in Resene Half Bokara Grey, then find your optimism in those sharp contrasts with a soft pink like Resene Pink Lace or try fresh green Resene Staycation against deep olive Resene Seaweed.

Other ideas for some instant optimism:

The colour you find optimistic will always be personal to you. Use Resene testpots and colour swatches to experiment with a colourful palette that makes you feel excited and happy.


Resene Aoraki

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Daylight

Resene Staycation

Resene Tropical

Resene Very Berry

Resene Idyllic

Resene Ocean Waves

Resene Epic

Resene I Dare You

Resene Light Fantastic

April 17, 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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