Here are some tricks to using the boldest colours of the spectrum
PRIMARY COLOURS have always been with us. Red, blue and yellow, these basic shades are significant because they can’t be formed by mixing with any other hues. Other colours, however, are made as a result of combining these primaries.
Such clean and flawless hues energise us, however some people can be overwhelmed by their boldness and intensity. When it comes to using these colours in your home, it’s best to apply them in small doses to not overpower the space.
For those who prefer a low-key look, rest assured you can still celebrate primary hues. The trick is to find a small space in your home that calls out for some colour and life, such as an office space, hallway or a mural wall behind a desk.
Interior designer Annick Larkin suggests a powder room or scullery as ideal places if you’re not ready for a fullon foray into primaries.
“Paint a dark background and add pops of colour to it, for example, paint a home office in Resene Fuscous Grey and add a waste receptacle painted in Rouge or Turbo. Add more colour and texture through soft furnishings, indoor plants and desk accessories.”
Turn to the more traditionally ‘fun’ spaces of the home — children’s bedrooms, Larkin recommends. They’re perfect for bringing in colours such as the blue of Resene Spinnaker or yellow of Turbo.
“Experiment with colour, but if you’re not quite ready for painting all four walls then try coating a headboard or toy box first. Alternatively, use Resene Alabaster on your walls paired with a bold coloured ceiling in Undercurrent.”
Today’s use of primary colours has evolved with a modern turn; they’re combining with non-expected colours, such as dusky shades, warm neutrals, and wooden furniture with natural textures.
When it comes to combinations with other colours, look to a mid-toned neutral and a fun green shade.
“Stripes are a great way of adding colour and can be paired with a neutral for contrast,” Larkin says. “Upcycle furniture with a quick and easy coat of paint for a statement pop of colour. Try stripes in Resene Thunder Road and Spanish White with a feature chest of drawers painted in one of my favourites Away We Go.”
It is no easy feat to decorate a home well in a riot of colour, Larkin says, but it can be done beautifully using the right tones. The addition of small doses of dusky or pastel hues, such as Resene Paper Doll, will soften your primary colours, bringing a more gentle touch to your interior.
“I love a bold interior that looks haphazard at first, but slowly reveals itself to be curated and cleverly done. The trick to making that impact without it turning garish is to ensure you choose shades that aren’t too clean or bright. Pick shades that have some black in them. Some of my favourites would be Resene Coral Tree, Rivergum and Hammerhead. Bold paint colours with muted undertones are going to feel more visually soothing and will be easier to life with.”
Kate Alexander, creative director at Places and Graces, says to take care when bringing all three primary colours into a home.
“One observation having lived with a primary palette is that when you start to add secondary colours, it gets hard. At that point, you need to choose which of your primary colours will be the hero. Mine is yellow.
“If you’re using all three primary colours together, keep it sophisticated by using your colours minimally, like they were used mid-century when the palette first had its heyday. Allow for single items in these primary colours so they don’t overpower each other.”
Introduce them bit by bit, for example, on the edge of a door, on a lightshade or an item of furniture, she says: “Our door edges are all painted in Resene Broom as are our dining chairs, and our bright blue dining table is in Resolution Blue.”
Primary colours can work in any room, Alexander says, but because they can create an ‘active’ feeling they are easier to live with and better suited to living room areas.
“In a bedroom, choose to use just one of the three. Using one primary colour works best if you then pair it with secondary colours close to it. Red can work well as a feature colour, and will feel less primary if you pair a maroon red with earthy tones of brown, cream or taupe. It’s a good choice if you have a base palette of Resene Tea or Perfect Taupe.”
Yellow can be easily paired with orange and red to create a warm palette, Alexander says, or keep within tones of yellow with mustard shades.
“Yellow is a good primary option if you have cream-coloured base such as walls in Resene Pearl Lusta or Spanish White.”
A clever approach to bright primary colours is to extend your palette on something existing in your home.
“Take inspiration from a colourful artwork or Resene wallpaper and use these colours as the basis of your paint palette,” Larkin says. “Choose a finite palette of colours — I would suggest no more than seven — and repeat them throughout the home for a cohesive look.”
Experiment with painting accessories such as legs of chairs, planter pots, handles of chopping boards, or picture frames for small elements of vibrancy, Larkin says.
“A space can also be made cheerful just by introducing a bold and colourful piece of accent furniture — such as a painted desk or chair. A statement front door is another fab option for adding one bold colour.”