Choosing your colour scheme

Luke Parker
Choosing your colour scheme

Colours have the power to change an atmosphere, lighten a mood, express a personality, and revive the worn out – so where do you start when selecting your home’s personal colour scheme?

REDnews asked Resene Colour Consultants Nikki Morris (Auckland) and Becca Long (Christchurch) to share their expert advice.

Get your creativity flowing and scrapbook visually

Nikki Morris: Start brainstorming about the kind of home atmosphere you want to live in. This could be through words, feelings, specific colours you’re drawn to, design articles or photos – and start a scrapbook.

This is a great way to get inspired and sharpen your ideas as you see concepts taking shape on the page.

If you are unsure about how to start your colour scheme and have a big project on your hands, get stuck in with the room that excites you the most, it might be your kitchen, your summer deck area, or your kid’s bedroom.

SEE ALSO: Three current interior design trends

Becca Long: Seek inspiration! Whether you flick through magazines while waiting in line and the supermarket, notice a striking home as you wait at the traffic lights, or check out websites packed with ideas such as, you’ll soon start noticing what appeals to you. Jot down your ideas and bring them in to chat to one of the colour specialists who are also available for on-site consults.


Create colour combos

NM: Some colours look awful together but that doesn’t mean they are bad colours, it’s just a bad connection between tones.

Some people find brown and blue offensive, but they can look stunning when you get their tone and strengths right.

Trust yourself, if you look at your colour combo and get a niggle in your stomach – it’s not right. BL: I’m always amazed by new colour schemes that clients bring to the table - don’t be afraid to mix it up.

I’d recommend reading Resene’s booklet on colour choices which runs through the personalities of many colours as they have a huge impact on moods.

Red for example raises our blood pressure, stimulates appetite, and tends to make us lose track of time. Yellow on the other hand is the colour of optimism, confidence, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, and creativity.


Consider carpets and curtains first

NM: It’s ideal to pick your carpet first as it generally doesn’t get replaced or changed as often as the colours on walls and furnishings.

BL: I’d suggest carpet first, followed by your drapes, and then your colours. Resene has thousands of colour choices to choose from and gorgeous curtains to match them.


Know your lighting

NM: Lighting has a huge impact on colours and their appearance. Trying warm lights as opposed to the cool light bulbs can make a big difference.

Natural light also has an impact on colours. Lots of light washes colour out and not enough light often results in a greyer appearance and deepening of colourings.

BL: I always recommend taking a testpot home and trying it out on a large, A2 piece of card that you can get at your Resene ColorShop.

Move the painted piece of card around the middle of the room as well as in any dark dingy corners during the day in natural light, as well as in the evening with any artificial light.


Lounges and bedrooms

NM: Lounges are often shared spaces, so you can consider the option to use a neutral base to support bold and brilliant colour accents.

Or go the opposite way with bold and unique coloured walls and use mostly neutral accents with the odd pop of colour to complete the look.

BL: Ask yourself, what mood do I want to create?

A soft grey could look gorgeous in a modern master bedroom matched with crisp white linen, a textured white duvet and a thick and fluffy brown rug, whereas a soft grey in a tiny, cold, south facing child’s room matched with a bold and colourful bedspread could leave the soft grey looking cold and weak in contrast.


Research current colour scheme trends

NM: New Zealanders have become braver in experimenting with colour and the way we use it. The greys are still here, but we’re moving away from the colder blue based tones and into more green and earth based tones, and colour accents are becoming more vibrant, with coral, teals and purples being popular.

Ceilings are also getting painted in fun colours now, and even the inner pantry and wardrobes are getting some attention grabbing colours!

BL: I’m seeing a rise in grey and green toned neutrals here in Christchurch homes. Colours such as Thorndon Cream, Rice Cake and Half Truffle are proving to be very popular.  

New Zealand as a whole is certainly pushing its limits and having fun with bolder and brighter colours, which is great to see. There is still a huge off-white (Resene Alabaster, Black White) fan base though!

SEE ALSO: Three current interior design trends

Tips to remember

Try before you buy

Always grab a couple of testpots and paint large cards to get a good visual of how it looks in your home. 

Go bold

Don’t lose confidence with your statement walls when considering a deep colour and then choosing a couple of shades lighter.

Don’t copy and paste

Just because a colour looks amazing in your friend’s place doesn’t mean it will look exactly the same in yours. Different lighting, colours, and fixtures change everything.

Be original

Don’t be afraid to try something new and different. Give it a go – if it’s not quite the look you’re after, you can always try again.

Impact of colours on moods

  • Bold and bright hues – lift and energise your body and mind
  • Pastels – calming
  • Mauve tones and soft greens –restful and nurturing
  • Deep chocolate browns – warm, inviting and moody
  • Charcoals and metallic edges – industrial glamour and sophistication



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