That's a whole lotta living

27 Feb 2014

Whether you have one or more living rooms, one of these is likely to be part of an open-plan space where there are even more roles assigned to these spaces – cooking, food prep, casual eating at an island bench, more formal dining at a table… the list goes on. And all of the associated noises and visual stimuli that these various activities bring.

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

Mixing it up for multi-functional spaces

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Forced into performing more and more functions, our living areas are understandably the busiest parts of our houses – chatting with family and friends, watching TV, working on your laptop, gaming on your ipad, reading a book, just hanging out. If you have the luxury of two living areas, you can give them quite different personalities with a change of Resene colour – like this wonderful smoky-toned and atmospheric Resene Kina Brown living room.

Whether you have one or more living rooms, one of these is likely to be part of an open-plan space where there are even more roles assigned to these spaces – cooking, food prep, casual eating at an island bench, more formal dining at a table… the list goes on. And all of the associated noises and visual stimuli that these various activities bring.

All of that action and noise is one reason why many of us stick to calmer colour palettes in our living rooms. The examples we show here are great examples of that, ranging from tranquil pale tones through to deep and moody, yet neutral shades.

One of the challenges with open-plan living areas is deciding on a decorating scheme that supports all of these functions. Do you go formal or casual, take a theme right through, and where do you actually start and finish a wall colour between each part of an open plan space? There are solutions that don’t involve just painting every surface off-white. You can:

·      Paint all of the walls the same neutral colour then make features of the furnishings and the kitchen components.

·      Paint or wallpaper a feature wall or walls to anchor a particular space – like a wall that also has a fireplace and shelves for the TV to distinguish the sitting area from the rest of the open-plan space.

·      Use varying strengths of the same colour throughout one area – you might use the deepest colour on the walls of the sitting area where you’re more like to spend evenings, then a lighter colour as the backdrop for the dining, and lighter still for the kitchen. A fourth lighter strength could be used for the ceiling and trims.

In an open-plan living space, create focal points for each area, for example a fireplace or bookshelf for the sitting area, or a rug that sits beneath a suite of sofas, a pendant light hanging low over the dining table, a change of flooring from carpet to tiles for the kitchen or an island bench to create a division between the kitchen and the living area.

Top tip: Redecorating an entire open-plan living area can be take time, so if all you want is a quick change without redoing the whole colour scheme, create a feature wall with an accent paint colour  (how about a metallic paint for extra drama?) or one of the amazing wallpapers available through Resene.  

If you have a separate living area, or a second space like a family room, consider giving it a bit of personality and individuality with a stronger or different colour. You might put together a family of colours that have a theme and use these throughout the house or living areas: beach colours like sea-foam greens and pale sand tones (Resene Breeze with Resene Eighth Akaroa), or urban shades of grey, silver and inky blue punctuated with saturated brights like yellow and orange (Resene Avalance with shots of Resene Holiday). 

pictures Main photograph from a St Marys Bay, Auckland, house currently for sale through Martin Dobson, Kellands, ph 021 376 952.

Warm and cosy

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This living room’s strong focal point is the wonderful rustic concrete fireplace. Just looking at it makes your feel welcome and cosy, which is further enhanced by the pale grey-green walls in Resene Celeste, washed with warm light from the wall lamps. 

Tone on tone

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A trusted approach to creating a colour scheme for an open-plan living space is to use varying strengths of one colour as seen here with Resene Thorndon Cream, Resene Double Thorndon Cream and Resene Half Thorndon Cream. The exterior is in Resene Nero and the design is by Yellowfox.  

Creating a feature

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Using a striking wallpaper to define a particular area is a handy decorating device. Here, wallpapers from the African Queen collection available through Resene decorate an open-plan living space with a feature paper used in the dining space at the rear. 

White's alright

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Here’s a case where an all-over off-white scheme works because then the character features of the room, like the high timber ceilings, timber floor and timber arch, can be highlighted. The design is by Jodie Robertson of Smoke N Mirrors and the walls are in the classic warm white of Resene Half Spanish White.

The lodge look

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This is a similar look but with a lodge-style appeal – a stone fireplace, beamed ceilings, leather sofas and oversized accessories from Halo. You could get this look with walls in a cool white like Resene Sea Fog and a painted floor in Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Alabaster. 

Going for the luxe look

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Jewel-like furnishings from Warwick Fabric’s Martini collection sit against a moody charcoal wall of Resene Gravel to give this living area a luxe look. Gold and red are classically regal colours, great for creating a sense of occasion. 

Coordinating the look

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Co-ordinating colour and curtains is possible with the Resene Curtain Collection. This design is Mecca, seen with a wall in Resene Sisal. 

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Resene Alabaster

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Resene Half Spanish White

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Resene Kina Brown

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Resene Thorndon Cream

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the look

If you're stuck on what
colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.

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Resene Alabaster

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Resene Half Spanish White

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Resene Kina Brown

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Resene Thorndon Cream

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the look

If you're stuck on what
colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.