Colour makes the interior

This Issue This is a part of the Exteriors and interiors feature

By - , Build 166

If there’s one constant in colours, it’s that they are always changing. We take a quick look at current trends and inspiration for interior paint colours and design in New Zealand homes.

IN THE PAST, there were just a handful of paint colours to choose from. Decorators were used to seeing life in just a few shades of colour, each quite distinctive. As tinting technology has developed, so too has the rainbow of colour choices.

Decorators have learned to appreciate subtle nuances – what once was off-white may now be beige, greige, cream or chalk. Colours are deeper and complex, layered with undertones. As decorators have been exposed to more colour options, their tastes have become more sophisticated.

A wider paint colour palette only became readily available in New Zealand in the 1960s. Colour choices exploded through the 1980s until today, where there is a colour to suit every project, and if you can’t find the one you want, it can be tailor made.

Inspiration from everywhere

Decorators now have unprecedented access to so many new colour ideas through travel, online searches and the proliferation of style magazines. Colours used more confidently in public spaces also encourage owners to appreciate the power of colour and bring it into their own home.

Colours and textures inspired by nature

Biophilic design focuses on humans’ innate connection to nature. Most people spend 90% of their time indoors, and now nature is coming indoors too.

This is seen in colourways – blues and greens, earthy neutrals and pops of bold colours reminiscent of Mother Nature’s boldest flowers. It is also seen in materials. Stained timber plays to the sense of being handcrafted and authentic. In a busy digital world, the beauty and solidity of timber is welcoming and grounding.

For many natural surfaces, the look is pared back and minimal. Natural materials tend to show their age quickly, so the trend is to finish them in clear finishes so they keep their looks longer. Think concrete wax on concrete floors and benchtops, clear finishes on timber and water repellents on exterior concrete.

On trend

Current trends see dark colours being embraced indoors. Creating cocoons of introspection, deep charcoals, moody blues and dense greens are grounding but also inject a sense of daring.

As owners rebel against mass production, there is a resurgence in handcrafted and upcycling projects, putting a unique stamp on a project. Paint effects are returning.

When it comes to trends, there’s a belief they come from Europe. However, with the natural light and environment so different here, European colours tend to result in sugar sweet paint colour schemes that don’t translate well to our homes and buildings.

New Zealand’s skies are relatively clear, and we are surrounded by bush, land and sea, reflected in the use of blues and greens.

Tricking your eyes

One area of interior colour many struggle with is metamerism. Take the dark blue/black sock example – you select a pair of apparently black socks then realise later that one of them is blue.

This optical illusion is due to different wavelength emission between various light sources. Incandescent light transmits red wavelengths and very few blue wavelengths, making it hard to tell whether a colour is dark blue or black. Fluorescent light emits more blue wavelengths, so it’s easier to distinguish the two colours.

When it comes to paint colours on a colour chart, printer’s ink cannot truly replicate a paint. To combat this, colour charts such as Resene’s are made with low sheen, giving a truer rendition of the colour.

Remember the sheen

The gloss level of the paint will also affect how the colour looks. Matt surfaces absorb light and appear darker than glossy reflective surfaces. Dark colours look velvety and rich in a matt finish. Light colours and glossy finishes help make a room appear larger, while darker colours, heavier textures and matt finishes help make the room seem cosier.

Darker colours and higher-gloss finishes accentuate surface imperfections, while lighter colours and lower-sheen finishes soften the effects of any surface irregularities by absorbing less light.

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