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Six neutral-based colour palettes to use now

21 Mar 2022

While data shows that clients are making bolder paint colour choices than ever before – a phenomenon that’s most likely been spurred from staring at the same white walls for months on end while working or isolating at home – there are some projects out there that are just right for a neutral paint palette.

As much as the BlackWhite team are chromaphiles with a passion for eye-catching and saturated hues, we also have great appreciation for a well-curated colour palette that’s based primarily on Resene neutrals. We’ve assembled some of our favourites from the Resene Whites & Neutrals Collection and top neutral picks from the Resene Multi-finish collection that will give you a flexible, low-key base to build up from.

Shuffle things up with Resene Truffle

Once you experience Resene Truffle in person, you never forget it. Its warmth and complexity are on a whole different level from your average neutral, but it neither feels too beige nor too grey. Try it in bathrooms with white porcelain fixtures and chrome or matte black mixers, shower heads, towel racks and loo roll holders. It also plays nicely with other whites from bone to stone to snow, so don’t be afraid to use it as the deepest paint colour in your design and layer lighter whites such as Resene Travertine, Resene Half Cougar, Resene Snow Drift and Resene Eighth Black White.

Background in Resene Truffle with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Travertine, Resene Snow Drift, Resene Eighth Black White and Resene Half Cougar, wavy plywood panel in Resene Eighth Black White, square plywood panel in Resene Travertine, circle candlestick in Resene Blackjack with dots in Resene Eighth Black White, hand ornament in Resene Travertine and step shelf in Resene Snow Drift. Small angular vase from Formantics.

Tap into nature with Resene Stonewashed

Colour schemes with strong ties to nature have been among the most desirable on-trend looks for both interiors and exteriors alike. While sky and sea blues and mossy and leafy greens hold an important place in design, sometimes nature-inspired projects need to be painted in earthy stone hues to really shine. Using Resene Stonewashed and Resene Triple Napa as your key colours for walls accompanied with accents in darker Resene Ironsand and lighter Resene Villa White and grounded with timber flooring finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash will give you a sophisticated palette that works well on anything from a residential home to a commercial office to even a yoga studio.

Background in Resene Colorwood Whitewash with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Half Spanish White, Resene Ironsand and Resene Triple Napa, battens in Resene Half Spanish White, arch vase in Resene Triple Napa, large round vase in Resene Villa White, small round vase in Resene Ironsand and tealight holder in Resene Stonewashed. 

Bring some softness with Resene Bison Hide

Resene Bison Hide is another one of those hues that once you’ve used it, you won’t be able to remember your life without it. With versatility in spades, this powerhouse neutral works a treat with both warm and cool colour pairings. For a dreamy neutral look, try it in different strengths with deeper browns, charcoal greys and greened whites such as a combo of Resene Triple Bison Hide, Resene Half Bison Hide, Resene Eighth Bison Hide, Resene Tobacco Brown, Resene Bokara Grey and Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream together in a single space. Or, if you need stronger coloured accents to carry your scheme, try Resene Bison Hide with a rich red like Resene Fahrenheit, a deep emerald green like Resene Palm Green, a yellow ochre like Resene Rusty Nail or a dusted blue grey like Resene Regent Grey.

Background in Resene Half Bison Hide with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Bokara Grey, Resene Tobacco Brown, Resene Triple Bison Hide, Resene Half Bison Hide, Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream and Resene Eighth Bison Hide and bud vases in Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream and Resene Tobacco Brown.

Fall head over heels for Resene Half Ash

There’s a big place in our hearts for neutrals with a hint of green in their undertones, especially given how popular olive, army and nettle greens currently are in the fashion and decorating spheres. It’s easy to underestimate it at first glance, but Resene Half Ash has just the right amount of pigment to make green, blush and brown accents sing – and you’ll have a far richer look for it. Try Resene Half Ash with Resene Raptor, Resene Alpaca and Resene Half Doeskin teamed with other greened or yellowed whites like Resene Half Thorndon Cream and Resene Caraway for a complex colour scheme that can easily be cosied up for cool weather with wool throws or paired with light linens and dried florals in summer.


Background in Resene Half Ash with A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Raptor (left) and Resene Double Ash (right), painted books in Resene Caraway and Resene Raptor, tray in Resene Caraway, large bowl in Resene Half Doeskin, small bowl in Resene Alpaca and vases (from large to small) in Resene Double Ash, Resene Half Ash, Resene Half Thorndon Cream, Resene Alpaca and Resene Double Ash. Wool throw from Città.

Don’t overlook Resene Doeskin

If creating warmth is a top priority for your project, Resene Doeskin has it all wrapped up. Like a biscuit fresh from the oven, this hue radiates soft warmth. For a grown-up version of the checkerboard trend, pair it with Resene Eighth Joss for your colour scheme’s base and bring in accents in might-as-well-be neutral Resene Dusted Blue, toffee-like Resene Tobacco Brown and a few hints of high contrast Resene Black and Resene White Linen for a look a trend chaser will love packaged in a simple-to-execute colour palette.

Checkerboard background in Resene Doeskin and Resene Eighth Joss with A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Doeskin and Resene Eighth Joss, tray and tealight holder in Resene Dusted Blue, bowl in Resene Tobacco Brown and checkerboard vase in Resene Black and Resene White Linen.

Try a Resene Tea blend for tonal perfection

A classic colour that has long been in the upper echelons of Resene’s most popular paint colours year in and year out, you can never go wrong with Resene Tea. Walls and ceilings in this aptly named hue will steep your space in cosiness, and the hue works wonders with accents in today’s popular greyed browns, brown greys and earthy terracotta. For a refined and elevated tonal colour scheme, complement Resene Tea with other favourite light neutrals like Resene Bison Hide, Resene Blanc, Resene White Linen and Resene Eighth Fossil with a touch of deeper Resene Antidote, Resene Sandstone and Resene Tapa balanced with a touch of rosier Resene Sandal or redder Resene Wild West.

Background in Resene Blanc with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from top to bottom) Resene Eighth Fossil, Resene Tapa, Resene Bison Hide, Resene Tea, Resene Blanc, Resene Antidote and Resene White Linen, bowl in Resene Double Gravel, large vase in Resene Sandstone, fluted vase in Resene Quarter Drought and tiny vase in Resene Sandal.

For more flexible neutrals, look to the Resene The Range Whites & Neutrals collection or the Resene Top 20 tints for the most popular picks.

projects Kate Alexander, Laura Lynn Johnston, Vanessa Nouwens

images Bryce Carleton

Published: 21 Mar 2022