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Breathe life into a beige colour scheme with these boredom-busting Resene accent colours

12 Feb 2024

With the skyrocketing popularity of neutral-focused design aesthetics like ‘quiet luxury’ and ‘warm minimalism’, beige has made a big comeback in the decorating world. While often considered a safe and neutral choice, beige-based colour palettes can sometimes fall into the realm of dullness as the hue’s overall lack of vibrancy can make spaces feel a little bland and uninspired. Though beige has its merits in its ability to create a serene and calming atmosphere, relying solely on beige to carry a colour scheme can lead to a lack of visual interest and personality in a room. 

One of the primary reasons why all-beige colour schemes can be boring is their lack of diversity and dynamism. Without contrasting elements or focal points, beige rooms can appear flat and uninviting. This can result in a space that feels devoid of character and lacks the visual intrigue necessary to captivate and engage occupants. In these situations, incorporating one or more accent colours becomes essential for breaking up the monotony of a beige colour scheme. 

Whether used sparingly or boldly, an accent colour has the power to transform a space from mundane to memorable. They can inject energy and personality into a space, serve as a focal point and add depth and dimension. Most importantly, accent colours provide contrast against the neutral backdrop of beige, creating visual interest and a sense of balance.

When considering complementary hues that will enhance the overall aesthetic of your specific colour scheme, the neutrality of beige can sometimes be intimidating – especially if you tend to get overwhelmed when faced with too many potential options. While the possibilities may seem endless, there are certain pairings that tend to work better than others. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite Resene chromatic companions that are surefire remedies to all-beige boredom, with options that will appeal to all tastes.

Resene Indian Ink

Navy blue is a classic accent colour that pairs beautifully with beige. This deep, rich hue contrasts elegantly against the warmth of beige, creating a chic and timeless look. Resene Indian Ink is particularly effective for bringing the depth and drama that could otherwise be missing from a beige colour scheme while still maintaining a sense of harmony and balance. In places where black might feel too heavy or dark, Resene Indian Ink feels lighter yet undeniably sophisticated. To further reduce the starkness in contrast between navy and beige, bring in other classic blues like Resene Watermark and Resene Double Duck Egg Blue for balance.

Top tip: In addition to interesting accent colours, another easy way to beige colour scheme is by adding visual texture through a paint effect. Give beige walls in Resene Foundation a suede-like look by applying Resene FX Paint Effects Medium colour with Resene Otter on top with a large, soft brush in a cross-cross motion. Work in small sections of approximately 1m2 at a time and wipe over your brushstrokes with a clean, dry rag while they are still wet to blend and soften the effect.

Background painted in Resene Foundation with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Otter applied on top, A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from left to right) Resene Indian Ink, Resene Double Duck Egg Blue and Resene Watermark, vases in Resene Indian Ink and Resene Exactly, bowls in Resene Watermark and Resene Quarter Albescent White and artwork in Resene Indian Ink, Resene Double Duck Egg Blue and Resene Exactly.

Resene Olive Green

Greens are inherently calming and refreshing, making the hue an excellent choice for creating a serene and inviting atmosphere. Soft green hues, such as sage or mint, can add a fresh and tranquil vibe to a beige colour scheme while earthy greens like Resene Olive Green act as a grounding colour – anchoring the colour scheme without overpowering the space. Add further depth with a few select touches of darker accents in a soft black like Resene Night Magic and a pale powder blue like Resene Timeless – and don’t forget to include elements of tactile texture, such as rattan furniture or decorative accents – stained in Resene Colorwood Natural.

Walls and floor painted in Resene Blank Canvas, window frame in Resene Sea Fog and lamp and makeup table painted in Resene Olive Green. Table and mirror from Mocka, occasional chair from Danske Møbler, vase from Father Rabbit, bowl from Asili, rug and sheepskin from Baya, armchair from Good Form.

Resene Trek

Terracotta, brick and rust tones bring earthy depth to a beige colour scheme without losing the warmth that beige is beloved for. Rich, reddish-brown hues like Resene Trek effectively complement the neutral tones of a barely-there beige like Resene Half Tea and a medium brown beige like Resene Otter, creating a cosy and inviting ambiance. To infuse some levity into the seriousness of this combo, try adding pastel elements in Resene Contented and Resene Eau De Nil for a touch of personality and unexpected charm.

Background painted in Resene Half Tea, organic textured dish in Resene Trek, small vase in Resene Contented, large round tray in Resene Otter, scalloped bowl in Resene Eau De Nil with trim in Resene Contented and wooden coat hook finished in Resene Colorwood Rising Tide and Resene Colorwood Becalm.

Resene Pioneer Red

If your beige colour scheme is lacking in excitement and personality, incorporating an energetic accent colour like red will add an undeniable element of visual interest. Classic reds like Resene Pioneer Red have the power to elevate and transform a beige-dominated room into a dynamic and engaging environment. To keep your punches of red from overpowering, be sure to blend them into your beige scheme by incorporating accents in browns and taupes like Resene Rebel and Resene Stepping Stone.

Walls and shelf painted in Resene Creme De La Creme, wavy plate in Resene Athena, small jug vase in Resene Courtyard, large vase in Resene Stepping Stone, sculpture painted in Resene Pioneer Red and planter in Resene Rebel.

Resene Incarnadine

By its nature, beige tends to recede into the background – which can make interesting design elements less apparent. Instead of taking beige across the whole space, enhance architectural features with a contrasting colour, either applied to the element itself or used in the ‘negative’ to make features painted in beige stand out through contrast.

Accent walls in a dramatic burgundy like Resene Incarnadine can completely transform an otherwise neutral space, providing the right level of contrast to make beige architectural features painted in Resene Solitaire and Resene Athena really pop. Be sure to pay close attention to lighting and consider lowering the natural ambient lighting levels in your space to make the most of this enticing colour combo. And choose lower sheen finishes such as Resene SpaceCote when specifying deep hues on walls and ceilings to give colours like Resene Incarnadine a soft, velvety appearance.

Front wall painted in Resene Solitaire, doorways and floor in Resene Athena, back walls in Resene Incarnadine, vase in Resene Athena and artwork in (clockwise from top left) Resene Heliotrope, Resene Incarnadine, Resene Funk, Resene Solitaire, Resene Dawn Glow, Resene Arriba, Resene Pandemonium, Resene Solitaire and Resene Athena. Chairs and side table from Soren Liv, rug from Baya, glass vase and flowers from Urban Flowers.

Resene Teak

If you’re looking to inject a sense of optimism into a beige colour scheme, there’s nothing that quite compares to a rich golden yellow. Since many beige paint colours include yellow within their base, yellow pairs beautifully with beige, creating a harmonious and inviting palette that exudes positivity, joy and cosiness.

But rather than a super sunny yellow, incorporating a more restrained muted golden hue like Resene Teak spells sophistication – perfect for a 70s homage look with contemporary sensibilities. Try it with accents in a rusty brown like Resene Cape Palliser and timber furniture stained in Resene Colorwood Walnut to complete the era-appropriate effect.

Back and left walls painted in Resene China Ivory, right wall in Resene Cape Palliser and floor in Resene Teak. Sofa, armchair and low lamp from Matisse, artwork and tall floor lamp from Bradfords Interiors, coffee table and rug from Citta, mug, cup, saucer from Michael Joyce, cushion, candle and vases from Faradays.

For a curated selection of beautiful beiges and fashionable accent colour options to try on your next project, look to the latest Resene the Range fashion colours collection. For a broader range of colour companions, consult the Resene Multi-finish colour chart and the Resene The Range Whites & Neutrals collection. And for even more colour inspiration and tips to use today’s top trending hues on your next project, check out the latest issue of BlackWhite magazine.

projects Kate Alexander, Amber Armitage

images Bryce Carleton, Wendy Fenwick

Published: 12 Feb 2024