On trend: neutrals with soul

04 Mar 2020

When we think neutrals, our minds tend to wander to whites, creams, tans and light greys. However, in the decorating world, the kind of neutrals warming up across the board offer far greater depth and interest than the usual suspects. 

‘Character neutrals’ are hues with soul and are much more intriguing than your typical true neutral, which can end up looking flat, cold or downright boring in certain spaces. Instead, look to complex varieties like nude taupe, mushroom taupe, terracotta, greige, warm stone grey, toasted caramel and coffee brown which will bring that little extra ‘something’ thanks to their subtle undertones.

While there’s always a time and place for classic whites and blacks, character neutrals are what decorators are now employing as a base for every kind of room. Here are some ways to incorporate these hot trending hues in your home.

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

new neutrals, vase, trays, neutral decor inspiration, green, orange, purple, Resene

Meet the new neutrals. Background in Resene Felix, oval tray in Resene Bitter, lidded container (bottom right-centre) in Resene Guardsman Red, large lidded container in Resene Roxy, narrow vases (bottom left) in Resene Crail and Resene Ayers Rock, wider vase (top middle) in Resene Crail and small vase (next to it) in Resene Papier Mache, small lidded container (on oval tray) in Resene Vanquish, small vase (on tray) in Resene Rebel. Tea towel from Citta and wallet, purse and sunglasses from H&M.

Go greige 

There’s perhaps no better example of character neutrals than ‘greiges’ like Resene Rakaia, Resene Truffle or Resene Quarter Sandstone

Tauranga interior designer Marilyn Cleland offers that grey-beige blends are popular thanks to their ability to be used in both warm and cool colour schemes. “Greiges sit comfortably between greys and browns and are fabulous trimmed with the greatest neutral of all – white. They allow a widely varied range of accessories and furnishing colours to shine – yellows, duck egg blues, blacks, coral tones and the new spice tones. These can all live happily together,” she says.

Try greige tones with hues like Resene Splash (a stunning ochre yellow), or cool blues like Resene Oxygen and Resene Duck Egg Blue. For spicy shades, choose terracottas like Resene Twisted Sister and Resene Sunbaked

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This bedroom is awash with character neutrals like the back wall in Resene Eighth Stonehenge, which provides an intriguing starting point to build a cosy hang out with soft pinks, beiges and wooden features – the perfect muted tone. Return wall (at right) in Resene Half Gin Fizz, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, slatted headboard in Resene Double Stonehenge, skirting board in Resene Ebony Clay, shelf in Resene Ebony Clay, lamp in Resene Corvette, mirror in Resene Corvette, tote bag in Resene Corvette (bottom) and Resene Half Barely There (side pockets), vases on chair in Resene Double Stonehenge (tall), Resene Half Barely There and Resene Rakaia (medium) and Resene Cinnamon (small) and DIY artworks in Resene Corvette and Resene Rakaia.

Not-quite whites and stylish stones

Waving goodbye to pure whites is easy when you have character neutrals like Resene Carrara and Resene Thorndon Cream on hand. These off-white creams are dreamy and luscious, and would set the scene for an elegant dining or living room filled with some fun green touches like Resene Spanish Green and Resene Secrets, plus some fresh pot plants to breathe life into the space.

Stylish hues like Resene Westar offer subtle touches of greys and browns to bring an elevated richness to the stone family. A muted and soothing hue, it would sit nicely in a nursery, guest room or home office. Its light tone also means you can have a lot of fun with furnishings by bringing in contrasting tones like Resene Condor or, for a bold colour move, Resene Float or Resene Delta Blue.
 

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With a bit of measuring and masking, combine two different strengths of the same complex greyed off-white together, such as Resene Black White and Resene Triple Black White, to create the look of an elegant tiled floor in your living room. Wall in Resene Triple Black White, architrave in Resene Black White, floor in Resene Black White and Resene Triple Black White, coffee table in Resene Westar, shelf in Resene Black White, jug vase in Resene Gumboot (top) and Resene Black White (bottom), large bowl in Resene Gumboot and Resene Salt Pan, geometric plant pots in Resene Salt Pan and Resene Quarter Chicago, ombre plant pot in Resene Celeste (top), Resene Terrain (middle) and Resene Cobblestone (bottom) and woven pendant lamp in Resene Despacito.

Muted and smoky greys

Resene Stonehenge is a muted character grey that’s exquisite in a bedroom, providing a sense of calm and wellness. It looks sublime as a feature wall with surrounding walls in Resene Alabaster, and pairs well with pinks like Resene Cabaret and Resene Rouge on throws, cushions and other small decorative items. 

If you find yourself drawn to greys in general, Resene Half Fuscous Grey is an easy choice to incorporate the character neutral trend. Formal and commanding, this particular tone would looks brilliant in a modern bathroom or kitchen space. Pair it with contrasting floors in lighter tones like Resene Quarter White Pointer before making the depth of this tone really pop with pot plants. Resene Half Fuscous Grey also goes well with timber floor, plus woven elements like baskets and rugs.  

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Character neutral Resene Half Fuscous Grey offers this wall an industrial, trendy aesthetic without being too overpowering for this chic, open dining space. Wall effect created with Resene Half Fuscous Grey and Resene FX Paint Effects Medium. Get this dining room look with the Austin Dining Table in Smoke, Taylor Dining Chairs in Orange, Austin Sideboard in Smoke and Austin Dining Bench (Smoke), all from Nood.

Taupe browns

Taupe and smoky earth character neutral browns like Resene Felix, Resene Zulu and Resene Rebel are not your usual earthy hues. They’re rich, alluring and ideal choices for a grand master bedroom or living room feature wall. 

Resene colour expert Christine Hodges notes browns are on their way up, with homeowners finding themselves drawn to “luscious chocolates”. The moody tone they offer means you can go lighter with accessories, going back to those standard stark whites to offer contrast.

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You can have fun with character neutrals like Resene Zulu by creating an abstract landscape feature, as seen here. Its soft lines and calming colour palette draw the eye into the space while providing a nice backdrop for the trendy, cosy chair and quirky accessories. Back wall (from top to bottom) in Resene Zulu, Resene Antidote, Resene Sorrell Brown and Resene Lone Ranger, right wall in Resene Half Wood Bark, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, bookshelf in Resene Zulu, large plant pot (on floor/book stack) in Resene Sorrell Brown, small plant pot (on shelf) in Resene Antidote, vase (on shelf) in Resene Merlot and candle sticks in Resene Korma.

Biscuit beiges and elegant and tans

Bringing warmth into your home with character neutrals is simple with Resene Biscotti (biscuit beige) and Resene Gold Coast (tan). Resene Biscotti would provide any living space with a sophisticated appeal, and pairs well with a huge range of tones. You could go for a tonal look and build with other beautiful beiges like Resene Rodeo Dust and Resene Coral on sofas and coffee tables. 

If you’re looking to make a statement, go with Resene Gold Coast as a feature wall and pair it with on-trend deep oranges like Resene Crail and Resene Ayers Rock

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This dining room looks open yet inviting thanks to the glorious warmth provided by walls in Resene Biscotti. Get the look with Calais Dining Table, Calais Bench, Calais Sideboard (Large) and Enzo Dining Chair (Grey), all from Nood.

neutrals, beige, grey, living room, neutral living room inspiration, Resene

A stand-out tan, Resene Gold Coast (walls), gives this living room a sunny and vibrant look and allows the grey furnishings to pop. Get the look with the Sabine Modular Set (Grey), Gem Ottoman (Navy) and Saxby Coffee Table (Black), all from Nood.

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This bedroom leans into the character neutral trend with Resene Double Biscotti (right), which provides a creamy depth to the space, and looks great next to Resene Olive Green (left wall). Get the look with the Replica AV Tallboy, Replica AV Bedside Table, Retro King Headboard, Suri King Duvet Set in Sage and Vintage Palms Framed Canvas, all from Nood. 

styling Annick Larkin, Kate Alexander, Laura Lynn Johnston, Leigh Stockton
images Bryce Carleton, Nood

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