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Man caves, media rooms and she sheds – flexible design spaces for modern living

From the Resene decorating blog

Here are some ideas from Resene for finding your own fun zone whether it’s a she-shed, a man cave or a family media room.

Finding space for creative time out, or calm family time can be tricky in modern family homes. Activities and belongings like life admin, working from home, homework, school bags and sports gear seem to develop a life of their own, spreading out to take over your house.

Using clever and practical furniture

Clever, practical furniture and colour blocking on the floor helps create different use areas in this sitting room. The walls are painted in Resene Comfortably Numb with floor finished in Resene Colorwood Shade and Resene Colorwood Greywash. Cube shelves in Resene Quarter Chicago, pinboard in Resene Rising Tide, vases in Resene Emerge, Resene Longitude, Resene Haven and Resene Dark Slate, and chairs in Resene Dark Side and Resene Emerge. Fold out desk from iFurniture, futon from Nood. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

Carving out a space devoted to hobbies, running a side business, or just chilling out feels like a treat; the chance to claw some space back for something you find stimulating and inspiring. But where do you start – and where do you find the space?

Here are some ideas from Resene for finding your own fun zone whether it’s a she-shed, a man cave or a family media room.

Work with what you have

Not everybody has a large garden where they can add a purpose-built shed. Not everybody has a house big enough to devote one room to hobbies or creativity. It doesn’t have to be the end of your ideas for a devoted creative space.

As Resene Colour Expert Amy Watkins says, with some literal ‘outside the box’ thinking and organisation you can carve out spaces within spaces.

“This is where colour blocking is a great tool that you can use to create different zones inside other rooms,” she says.

“One way is to use a solid paint colour and paint out a section of the wall in a geometric shape. Continue that colour and shape onto the ceiling, and even the floor, to create the sense of a separate zone within a larger room.”

A modern garden shed

Who says garden sheds must be small and dank? These walls are painted in a base colour of Resene Dusted Blue overlaid with smudges of Resene New Denim Blue and Resene Half Emerge mixed into Resene FX Paint Effects Medium. The floorboards are finished in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy. Skirting in Resene Raven, wall hooks, stool and bench seat in Resene Half Mondo, shelves in Resene Baltic Sea, watering can in Resene Half Emerge, plant box on floor in Resene Gull Grey, steps in Resene Sandcastle with pot in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect, cabinet kickboard in Resene Raven, doors in Resene Gull Grey, top in Resene Eighth Spanish White, handles in Resene Baltic Sea, boards in Resene Mondo and Resene Gull Grey, planter crate on bench in Resene New Denim Blue, planter crate on shelf in Resene Tuscany and large case Resene Quarter New Denim Blue. Garden equipment, vegetable trug, plants and crates from Palmers, pottery and plates from Freedom. Project by Moneuan Ryan, image by Bryce Carleton.

Wallpaper can also be used to create the same effect, Amy says, and with the right pattern, can give your separate zone immediate flair and personality, even if it’s just a simple drop of wallpaper behind a desk. For a whimsical reading or art space in a child’s room try the woodland creatures of Resene Wallpaper Collection 38119-1 or, for a grown-up workspace try the sophisticated elegance of Resene Wallpaper Collection 22091.

The idea is to create a visual ‘step-change’ in your space so your newly created area stands on its own. If you want that effect without too much visual shock, compared to the rest of the room try a bold stripe like Resene Wallpaper Collection 101077144 with walls in a similar shade of jade like Resene Japanese Laurel, or a neutral like Resene Alabaster.

Embrace flexibility

If you can’t dedicate a space inside a space, or you want to make your new zone multi-functional, look for ways to add a good amount of storage. Cupboards, drawers, hooks and shelves all mean everyone who uses the area knows where their stuff goes when it’s not in use and you can help avoid the space becoming cluttered and unusable for anyone.

An arts and crafts room with a fresh colour scheme

A light and airy space with a fresh colour scheme is perfect for arts and crafts.

Walls and skirting in Resene Spindle, floor finished in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy, small wall canvas, chair, crate and side table in Resene Abbey Road, larger wall canvas in Resene Soft Apple, table in Resene Surf Crest, desktop folders in Resene Soft Apple, Resene Half Opal and Resene Surf Crest and storage box in Resene Soft Apple. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

A bright green hobby shed

Creating a hobby shed can be an excuse to play with bold colours and ideas you might not want to use inside.

Walls painted in Resene Aloe Vera with floor painted in Resene Double Spanish White. Screen in Resene Amaranth, trolley in Resene Contour, Resene Nirvana and Resene Springtime, bench seat in Resene Eighth Bokara Grey, small pots in Resene Liquid Gold, Resene Summer Rose, Resene Dawn Glow, Resene Rice Cake, Resene Inspire and Resene FX Faux Rust Effect and large planters in Resene Vantage Point, Resene Nirvana and Resene Amaranth. Resene gumboots in Aqua from Mitre 10, mini stool and wall vases from Junk and Disorderly. Project by Annick Rennell, image by Bryce Carleton.

It could be a good opportunity to upcycle an old desk, chest of drawers or bookshelf, and as Amy suggests if you’re creating a space to suit different people and multiple tasks, it may make more sense to go with a simpler colour scheme that makes good use of texture, like Resene Wallpaper Collection M35607. instead of a bold pattern. “You could also try a paint effect like Resene FX Paint Effects Medium to create a limewashing effect using two different colours. Try two similarly-toned muted shades like Resene Rolling Stone and Resene Duck Egg Blue.”

Top tip:  If your space is going to be used for arts and crafts, or anything that might create some mess or get wet, get advice from your Resene ColorShop on the best paint finish to use. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, for example, combines the benefits of waterborne enamel with added antibacterial silver protection and MoulDefender, making it able to stand up to mess and regular wiping. You could also try Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom semi-gloss for a higher sheen.


Plan ahead for colour

Putting some careful thought into how you will use your new, or upgraded shed space or creative zone, will help ensure it’s fit for purpose and actually gets used for what you are planning. It will also help you choose your colour palette. Ask yourself some of the following questions before you start:

If you want a cosy, soothing and relaxing space to read or watch a movie with the family Amy suggests opting for a restful colour scheme like Resene Bud, Resene Soothe or Resene Inside Back. For a space dedicated to movies or a quiet, bolthole to escape, consider playing with cosier darker shades like deep green Resene Welcome brightened with notes of Resene Wabi Sabi, or charcoal Resene Thunderstorm with off-white Resene White Pointer.

Top tip:  For blackout spaces in media rooms or even studios try Resene Blackest Black, Resene’s darkest paint available.


If you want to try uplifting and inspiring colours for a play or creative zone, Amy suggests Resene Java, Resene Tango or Resene Turbo for extra visual impact.

If you’re creating an art studio, or a designated space for detailed work like sewing or writing, it’s probably a good idea to go for lighter, brighter shades on the walls, ceiling and floor to maximise light. Try layered neutrals like Resene Blanc with Resene Half Blanc, Resene Quarter Blanc and notes of Resene Double Blanc. For extra colour add highlight pieces in sea blue Resene Spinnaker or muted orange Resene Hero.

Be brave

Amy’s advice for starting your shed or workspace project is to embrace the opportunity to be bold and creative. “Don’t be afraid to use colour! Look at what you want to put into the space in terms of furniture and decor so you can draw the colour palette ideas out from those items.

“You can either go darker or lighter than the furniture as a way to offset the items or use wallpaper to give you a real impact and a layered look.”

Have fun and create a space that inspires creativity.

Resene Quarter Blanc

Resene Breathe Easy

Resene Inspire

Resene Comfortably Numb

Resene Springtime

Resene Wabi Sabi

Resene Contour

Resene Amaranth

Resene Rising Tide

Resene Shade

Resene Dawn Glow

Resene Summer Rose

Resene Vantage Point

Resene Eighth Bokara Grey

Resene Thunderstorm

Resene Welcome

Resene Blackest Black

Resene Liquid Gold

Resene Aloe Vera

October 09, 2023

If you need help choosing colours and wallpapers for your creative space, ask an expert at your Resene ColorShop or use the free Ask a Resene Colour Expert service online.

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