Decorating inspiration for living rooms

The living room often functions as a hub of activity for your home, especially when blessed with sight lines to the kitchen, so it makes sense to make it one of the comfiest and most up-to-date rooms in the house. Whether you favour bold and modern or traditional and cosy, keeping an on-trend living space will spruce up your entire home and prevent staleness.

Look to the coming trends for inspiration – it’s full force with bold patterns, natural palettes and faux finishes. Greys, charcoals and navy blues are stepping up and replacing black in urbane navy/white combos and navy or charcoal accent walls.

Left image: Diamond wall feature in Resene Tequila, Resene Just Right, Resene Cashmere and Resene Alpaca.

Right image: Walls in Resene Athens Grey and Resene Atmosphere. Floor in Resene Stack.

“We are seeing living rooms with darker walls, creating drama and depth –colours like Resene Foundry, a shadowy charcoal full of warmth, or Resene Half Bokara Grey, a burnt bituminous charcoal,” says Resene colour consultant Jill Marsh. “Another colour being used is Resene Indian Ink, a stunning blackened blue – quite often used just on one wall.”

Inky blues go with almost any colour and pair well with crisp, white trims and white architectural details. Resene Foundry, Resene Dark Side and Resene Regatta, all inky blues, are proving popular, adding richness and depth to rooms.

Colour consultant and interior designer Debbie Abercrombie is also seeing a trend towards darker hues.

“Navy is playing a very strong part in our interiors, from the greyed off shades in paints covering whole walls for a sophisticated depth and anchoring background, to fabrics with strong navy patterns and textures,” she says. “Team it with vibrant greens to give a fresher look or explore shades of ochre to give a more grounded and elegant look.” Either way, she says, navy is sharp, effective and flexible. “It is timeless and current at the same time.”

Statement sofas or armchairs in navy velvets are also popping up, offering classic and regal touches. It’s part of a trend for tactile, textural fabrics, enticing homeowners and visitors to touch and engage and experience ultimate comfort. Fabric manipulation and fine tailoring of plush velvet is ever present, including pleated, folded and tufted designs.

Alongside navy paints and fabrics, earthy hues are beginning to dominate colour schemes.

“We are seeing lots of natural linen fabrics for curtains and cushions,” says Jill. “Dark grey carpets have been very popular, but we are now seeing more sandy shades and mid-range colours.”

Bright green is proving to be a must this season as well. Climbing plants and shrubbery are currently popular ways to flaunt this colour trend. But look for bold botanical prints in wallpapers, too. Ashford Tropics AT7071 shows sizable banana leaves that speaks of the tropics, while Fiji Garden AT7092, also from the Ashford Tropics collection from Resene ColorShops, showcases feathery green leaves and magenta blooms.

“Not only is it paint being used but wallpaper is also very strong at present,” says Jill.


The trends are continuing along a nature-inspired path. Butterflies are flittering about everywhere. Wallpaper, drapery and artwork feature these winged beauties – and they’re hard to ignore. They are no longer designated to children’s rooms alone – they take on a more sophisticated look with high-end designers incorporating butterflies into their collections.

The mixing of different patterns will be more tolerated this year. Stripes and fleurs-de-lis may be seen on walls together. Accent pillows and rugs may be mismatched as well – think green polka dots with grey chevron. Mix natural colour schemes with several different patterns and textures to create a fresh and vogue living space.

The natural colours and butterfly patterns will be complemented by faux materials. Faux wood beams are a trend overseas (they are lightweight and durable, manufactured with high-density polyurethane and made to look just like the real thing, to provide a rustic aesthetic to any space), and hang above leatherette sofas, which sit atop faux fur area rugs. Engineered quartz will function as console tabletops and living rooms can finally be wrapped in marble with affordable Carrara wallpaper.

Brushed metals and three-dimensional light fixtures are here to add some texture. Upgrade table lamps or reading lights to unique, quirky shapes and styles with varying finishes. A brushed brass coffee table frame combined with a soft velvet ottoman is sure to keep your living space on-point this year while maintaining timeless appeal.

“Finishing touches are very important,” says Jill. “New homes tend to be very open plan spaces, including kitchen and dining rooms. These areas are usually defined by coloured/feature splashbacks, feature lighting over tables, rugs and artwork in the living space. Throws and rugs all help create your own sanctuary.”

Artisanal pieces will take centre stage in our living rooms. Work from contemporary craftspeople, including glassware, ceramics, modern lighting and woodworking (just not the big chunky recycled wood of past years) will emerge. We will seek out unique, quality, ethical pieces that are in line with our current love affair with sustainable practices.

While darker hues have seen a rise in popularity, don’t eschew whites just yet. These ‘safer’ colours still command a place in the modern home.

“Whites and off-whites from our Resene Whites & Neutral fandeck feature strongly in our colour schemes,” says Jill. “Very popular colours at the moment are Resene Half White Pointer, Resene Half Rice Cake, Resene Quarter Spanish White, Resene Alabaster and Resene Half Black White.”

These colours are soft and neutral and can be used generously in spaces – on all four walls, for example, rather than as a small accent only. They are useful where a darker colour may be too distracting. Even a lover of bold colours may need whites and off-whites to break up the palette. These neutral colours all pair well with the current trend for navy blues, greens and earthy hues.

While the current trends have brought playful, fun themes into the home, it’s important to explore your own style.

“Check out decorating magazines or explore online,” says Jill. “You will find a pattern emerges of pictures you like and this will help when choosing your favourite colours.”

Get inspired by other kiwi living room decorating projects in the online inspiration gallery

If you need help getting started, ask a Resene expert at your local Resene ColorShop or online with the free Ask a Colour Expert service or free Ask a Tech Expert service.



Need help with your decorating? Resene has a colour expert and technical expert service to help you choose the right colours, wallpapers and paints for your project, plus advice on how to apply the products to get the best finish.


Need help with your decorating? Resene has a colour expert and technical expert service to help you choose the right colours, wallpapers and paints for your project, plus advice on how to apply the products to get the best finish.

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