Bluebell Grey Medina Wallpaper Full Room 1500 2
Bluebell Grey Medina Wallpaper Full Room 1500 2



Think beyond safe neutrals to turn your interiors into a dynamic haven of colour

WORDS // Kate St James, FDIA

The colours we choose for our living environments can influence the way we feel. While black may be your favourite choice in clothing it may not be such a good choice in your interiors.  Creating a dynamic colour scheme can take your interiors from drab to fab.

Colour affects us in more ways than we realise. It stimulates our brain and can affect our behaviour and mood, and influence perceptions that are not obvious as in the taste of food.

We each react differently to colours, which says much about our personalities and hence our preferences. While there are no hard and fast rules for using colours in your interiors, there are some guidelines to follow to give you a fabulous result.

In technical terms, colour is the perceived character of a surface according to the wavelength of light reflected from it. It has three dimensions: hue (the colour family such as red), value (its lightness or darkness) and intensity (its brightness or dullness). Using a colour wheel can help you find colours that complement and contrast, or clash with each other. While some people believe that some colours should never be seen together, today we combine colours that we never previously imaged. Some colours really don’t work together such as grey and brown, however, depending upon the tones, or balance of each colour, really anything goes.

A colour wheel can help you to select complementary and contrasting colours.

The easiest way to get some colour into your interiors is with paint. Paint is quick, easy to use and is available in thousands of colours. When choosing paint always choose non-toxic, VOC free or low-VOC options.  These are healthier for you and the planet and will not outgas during and after application.

This year I was again asked by UK firm QS Supplies to give my colour prediction for 2018. My favourite colours are from the blue palette. I’ve long been a fan of red and pink tones but in recent times, along with a move to regional New South Wales (near the beach), blues and teals have become more evident in my choices. For the prediction I selected from Resene paints’ Into the Blue. This colour is the perfect complement to crisp whites, greys and yellow tones. Use as a feature wall, in soft furnishing accents, artwork and as a statement front door. Blue is a peaceful colour that also represents strength, trust, loyalty, creativity and intelligence. Having said that, I still love red and teamed with blue it’s a winning combination.


Interior design lecturer at Enmore Design Centre, Catherine Whitting says “Colour is paramount for the overall success of any room design. It is the candy for interior designers that adds flavour and life to a space. Colour enables us to connect at an emotional level to our interiors.

“When sourcing inspiration for interior design projects I look for examples of colour found in the natural and built environments, particularly when travelling throughout rural Australia or overseas. Experiencing other cultures and their responses to colour provides inspiration and a fresh way of looking at, exploring and applying colour. I love analysing naturally found colour schemes on a macro level to pull a colour palette together, like the underbelly of a mushroom for the perfect taupe or the velvet petal of a tiger lily for a furious fuchsia. Nature provides an ageless palette that can enhance and enliven traditional or contemporary personal styles and architectural features and facades. In the natural world one can discover harmonious eroded palettes crafted by the elements and artistry of time – pop outdoors with your camera and find the perfect solution to your interior!”

Artworks are also exceptional sources for pulling together interior palettes, as a visual artist has already invested hours of time curating a dramatic palette. Take the proportions of colour and repeat these in your interior.

Busselton Dawn is a watercolour painting inspired by the poetry of Tim Winton and the rugged coastline of Albany, Western Australia. The Fuchsia Pink, Rose Madder and Tangerine Orange watercolour washes float effortlessly, like a calm sea, against the strong steadfast Prussian Blue inked lineal elements. Using Busselton Dawn as inspiration, twist tradition and paint large living areas in blushing tones from the SJW Elementals Collection for Resene, Skin Deep and Sorbet, and complement with matt black lighting features and lineal furniture.

Resene Paints says blackened off whites are continuing in popularity with Black White and Alabaster a very close first and second. Long-time favourites Spanish White and Tea are still in the top 20 with the lighter variants of these colours being favoured.  For a warmer white, Rice Cake is a popular and enduring option. Key colours and influences for the year ahead include the hushed tones of Misty and Muted through to stunning brights as in The Unexpected.

Key colours and influences in the year ahead

  • Muted, misty tones to create sanctuary and calm
  • Cocooning darks give respite from a colourful, hectic world
  • Hits of citrus will refresh us
  • Global and ethnic styles assuage our wanderlust
  • Trusty browns and wood stains keep us in touch with nature
  • Neutrals will help our interiors adapt in a shared world
  • Bold, jewel tones bring a bit of luxe
  • Pattern will expand our sensory horizons
  • Bespoke and handmade elements will let individuality shine

Thanks to Bluebell Grey, Resene Paints and Catherine Whitting for images and commentary.