A colour maximalist's dream: Inside a dazzling 1980s home transformation

This architect-designed home, built in 1989 for a Russian client, is a unique treasure where modernism meets brutalism. Although tired and run down, Nadene and Sam, immediately fell in love with the home and saw its potential. It was time to turn this under-maintained gem into a vibrant family home, and the Resene Beyond The Sea range sure helped to bring it back to life.

“We fell in love with the sharp clean lines, flow and floor-to-ceiling windows,” Nadene says. Despite its architectural beauty, the home required a comprehensive refresh. With a tight budget and a keen sense of environmental responsibility, Nadene and her family embraced a creative approach, opting to work with existing features rather than replacing them. “I think it’s more environmentally conscious to try and work with what you have instead of ripping out and throwing everything away,” she says.

“Our aim was to have fun with the 1980s architecture and give it an 80s flair with some key pieces but also a contemporary twist. We did not want it to be a period museum.”

The master bedroom features a bold, cocooning teal, Resene Plan B. This dark hue looks stunning against the mustard toned décor, vibrant rug and unique artwork.

The sitting room features Resene Alabaster, a classic neutral that allows personal accessories and charming décor to take centre stage. “I also installed some lovely mid-century lights with little crystal inserts that throw dancing light around the room when turned on,” Nadene says.

Both Nadene and Sam are journalists, but Nadene admits that her passion is with interior design. After winning an interior design contest on TV a few years ago, she is keen to dive in and see if she can make her passion a career.

“I am a colour maximalist, and I can get very carried away with it, as Sam will attest to,” Nadene says. While getting carried away isn’t always a good thing, in this case Nadene’s design choices are truly fabulous and inspirational, especially for other homeowners seeking to use more colour in their interiors.

The media room features a dark, almost black, blue, Resene Wild Blue Yonder from the Resene Beyond The Sea ultramarine collection. This was the perfect backdrop for pop art and bursts of colour through Nadene and Sam’s eclectic decorations. The ceiling and window frames are painted in Resene Alabaster.

The curved central staircase, the home’s crowning glory, is painted in Resene Ultramarine, a bright blue from the Resene Beyond The Sea palette. “It felt like a very 1980s pop art blue and could not be more perfect,” Nadene notes. The staircase, visible as soon as you open the front door, offers a playful yet period-appropriate burst of colour. The surrounding walls are painted in Resene Alabaster.

“I called in Resene Colour Consultant Brenda Ngatai who was great and together we came up with a plan,” Nadene says. “She told me about the limited edition Resene Beyond The Sea range and I totally fell in love. I have long loved those intense Moroccan blues so to find a range that was inspired by that was fantastic. Our house looks over the water, so the blues also felt like a good fit.

“The concept we came up with was a neutral throughout the connecting spaces, a bold hero colour on the curved 1980s staircases which run through the centre of the home, and cocooning soothing blues in the bedrooms.

“I went for full colour saturation in the bedrooms by painting the walls, ceilings, doors and skirting boards all the same shade. It’s a technique I had used in my previous home and it’s super calming and works especially well in bedrooms.

“The end result is that the bedrooms feel like little coloured jewel boxes at the end of the long white corridor. It feels special every time you open a bedroom door.”

A mix of light and dark shades in Resene Alabaster and Resene Wild Blue Yonder frame both the view out the window and the colourful décor within.

Left: Gilbert’s room is painted in Resene Lapis Lazuli, which he proudly chose himself. Right: The spare room is painted in a captivating shade of jewelled blue, Resene Azur d’Acre.

The family, including Nadene, Sam, their four-year-old son Gilbert, and their two dogs Kareem and Amira, now enjoy a home that feels both unique and harmonious, with each bedroom telling its own story through the shades of the Resene Beyond The Sea palette. Gilbert’s room, painted in Resene Lapis Lazuli, reflects his love for purple with a rich blue-purple hue. The spare room, featuring the lightest shade Resene Azur d’Acre, is a pretty cornflower blue that everyone admires, enhanced with bold street art pieces by British artist Drew Copus.

The master bedroom, a compromise between Nadene and Sam, features a lovely strong teal called Resene Plan B. It's paired with mustard curtains and cushions. “Teal and mustard are such a classic contemporary combination and the mustard really pops off the teal,” Nadene says.

The living area, with its striking floor-to-ceiling windows, posed a challenge but also provided an exciting opportunity. Inspired by the harbour lights reflecting on the water at night, Nadene and Sam decided to paint the room in Resene Wild Blue Yonder. These deep blue indigo walls contrast with white aluminium window frames, creating a striking yet elegant look that reflects the vibrant pop art vibe they desired.

The kitchen units are painted in the deep shade of Resene Wild Blue Yonder to blend with the living space. The dark shade also works to highlight the stunning view from the windows. Ceiling in Resene Alabaster

Nadene’s previous experience in repainting kitchens in her Victorian seaside villa in the UK proved invaluable in this renovation, where she decided to repaint the kitchen units instead of replacing them. Featuring the same dark indigo as used in the living space, Resene Wild Blue Yonder, the units blend seamlessly into the open plan living area, blending into the background rather than being a central focus.

The exterior of the house, painted in Resene Nero with Resene CoolColour technology, has transformed the home into a striking “black house,” as Gilbert calls it. The glossy white front door stands out against the dark exterior, matching the white window frames in Resene Alabaster, and adding a touch of modern elegance. What was a triumphant result also came with its challenges however, the biggest being the exterior painting which required abseil painters due to the house’s cantilevered position over a cliff.

The unique architectural exterior is painted in Resene Nero CoolColour with trims in Resene Alabaster and mirrored windows for privacy.

Thoughtful use of black, Resene Nero CoolColour, allows Nadene’s vibrant accessories both inside and outside to stand out.

For Nadene, the joy of decorating lies in the process of letting a house speak to her. Her style is ever-changing, tailored to each home’s unique characteristics. This house, with its modernist/brutalist architecture, inspired a vibrant 80s rework that feels fresh, modern and fun.

“My favourite room is my bedroom because it feels cocooning and calm,” Nadene says. The combination of mustard, teal and a navy upholstered velvet bed creates a serene retreat, complemented by a captivating piece of artwork by her friend, Alan Rankle.

Throughout the renovation, Nadene learned about balance and restraint. “Not every room has to be a colour!” she admits. “But I always urge people not to be afraid of colour. It’s only paint. If you hate it, you can repaint it.”

With Nadene’s clever design skills and the Resene Beyond The Sea palette, a tired 1980s house has been transformed into a colourful, contemporary home that celebrates its architectural roots while providing a fresh, modern living space.

images  Resene Colour Expert Brenda Ngatai and Barfoot & Thompson

painting contractor  Auckland Painting Services and No Strings Attached

Nadene offers interior design and styling consultancy. The house is also for sale or long term rent. Get in touch at [email protected].

Get in touch with Resene Colour Expert Brenda Ngatai: [email protected] 

Top tip: When using dark shades like Resene Nero, or other popular exterior shades like Resene Element and Resene Foundry, use the Resene CoolColour version of the colour to reduce heat stress and the risk of damage. A Resene CoolColour reflects more of the sun’s damaging UV rays than the standard version of the colour and is especially useful when you’re opting for a dark shade outside.

Published: 20 Jun 2024

Do you have a home full of wonderful Resene paint and colour? Send us some snaps by emailing [email protected].

register h icon  look book

Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

Login or Register to get started!


register h icon  look book

Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

Login or Register to get started!


the look

If you're stuck on what
colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.