Use colour, light and texture to fill your home with a sense of comfort this winter.
Words Emma Rawson
In the past couple of years, we’ve spent more time at home than ever before, with many of us working from home during periods of lockdown or isolation. All those hours indoors have proven how important your home environment is for creating mental and physical wellbeing. Minimalist white walls might look great as a Zoom background, but a blank canvas aesthetic isn’t always so great for our wellbeing. Shelter, in the form of a warm and comforting home, is up there with food and water as a primary human need, especially as the temperature drops. Creating a home that warms your heart – as well as your fingers and toes – doesn’t need to break the bank. These simple tricks using colour, light and texture will infuse your home with comfort and make you feel snug as a bug on a rug. Colours for comfort When the weather outside is frightful, inside it’s colour that will make your home delightful. Deep, rich colours such as wine reds, racing greens, dark blues and charcoals have cocooning qualities which can dial up the cosiness in your home. This is because lighter colours tend to reflect light and ‘advance’ towards a person while dark colours tend to recede. That’s not to say a room will seem smaller if it’s decorated in darker colour; think of recessive colours on your wall like your room is giving you a cuddle. Darker rooms tend to have dramatic qualities, which, when paired with lush fabrics such as velvet on couches or silk or linen pillows and duvets in a bedroom, will create a sense of grandeur. Dial up the decadence by painting a room or just one wall with colours in dramatic darker hues. Try a charcoal colour like Resene Nocturnal – ideal for bedrooms or cosy lounge spaces, darker blues such as Resene Indian Ink and Resene Dark Knight, deep purples such as Resene Aubergine, wine reds like Resene Merlot and Resene Cab Sav and rich greens such as Resene Midnight Moss or Resene Palm Green. Colour is influenced by light, so before committing to a whole wall, paint large swatches using Resene testpots and observe the colours at several times of the day and night, to make sure you like the colour. Top tip: When introducing colour to a space, keep in mind a simple ‘Rule of Three’. This design rule suggests you introduce a colour three times in the same space to create harmony. For example, if you have a blue wall, introduce this colour in two other places, such as blue cushions on the sofa and a blue rug. Colour me happy There’s no doubt colour a ects the way we feel. Just look at the way we use colours in the English language – we “see red” when we’re angry and “feel blue” when we’re sad. The 2018 International Colour Emotion Survey led by Dr Christine Mohr of the Institute of Psychology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland surveyed people from around the world, including New Zealand, and found that participants associated blues, greens and turquoise with contentment and relief. These colours also happen to be those closely associated with nature – blue with the sea and sky and green with forests and plants. For some nature-inspired colours this winter, try Resene Escape, Resene Comfort Zone, Resene Spanish Green or Resene Forest Green. Although some colour associations were universal, there were some cultural di erences in the study. Countries closest to the equator were less likely to associate yellow with joy, while people living closer to the North and South Poles, such as New Zealanders, found yellow the happiest colour. If yellow walls are a step too far, add a little yellow to your home by painting vases or picture frames in a vibrant yellow such as Resene Happy or a buttery pastel like Resene Moonbeam. Light fantastic It’s an often overlooked detail of interior design, but lighting can transform a space from tense to calming. A good lighting scheme is particularly important in winter when reduced daylight hours mean we rely more on artificial lights. Lights can be divided into three types: ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Ambient lighting is general background light, usually sourced from ceiling lights or chandeliers. Task lights are usually functional and are used to make certain activities easier, such as a desk lamp in an o ice. Accent lights draw attention to certain features, such as artworks or exterior lights that accentuate architectural elements. Use all three types of light together to create a comforting atmosphere. Pay attention to the type of light in your home. Cool lightbulbs are often used in o ices as they are conducive to mental alertness, concentration and productivity, and many electronic devices emit blue light. In your home, opt for warm lightbulbs instead. Warm light is closer to the colour of a fireplace or candles and creates a relaxing atmosphere. Several studies have shown that dim, warm light such as that emitted from fireplaces increases the likelihood that people will be in a positive mood and, if guests are around, that they will get along well. A University of Alabama study even showed that sitting by the fireplace can reduce blood pressure. Although heatpumps powered by renewable hydro energy are the cleanest heat source in New Zealand there are now many low-emission fireplaces on the market. Look for ULEBcertified wood burners, approved for use all over the country, even in Canterbury. A note on SAD: Seasonal A ective Disorder (SAD) is estimated to a ect one in 10 Kiwis. Creating a space that’s comforting is even more important in winter where reduced exposure to light and melatonin production can give people the “winter blues” or, more seriously, SAD, a form of seasonal depression. Light therapy is often prescribed by psychologists where patients sit by a light box emitting bright light similar to outdoor conditions, but without UV rays. Light therapy lamps are becoming more readily available in New Zealand; ask your doctor if they could benefit you. Tying in texture Did you know that humans walk slower when passing along a wall with a textured or patterned surface, and faster next to walls that are smooth? A way to stop yourself rushing around your home and slow down on a subconscious level is to layer your home with textures. Cosy natural textiles like woollen blankets, sheepskin rugs or linen throws can literally create warmth when you’re snuggled under them, but there are other ways to give your whole home the cuddly factor. Create cosiness through layering texture in di erent places in the room. Start with the floor: rugs or loop pile carpets create a tactile comfort that will be the first thing you feel when you get out of bed in the morning. Staining wooden flooring with Resene Colorwood allows the natural irregular wood grain of the timber to show through. Thick, lined curtains not only add texture to your space but reduce heat loss through your windows and prevent draughts. On your walls you can get really creative. From leafy patterns to bold geometrics, the Resene Wallpaper Collections boasts many options, including textured designs and paintable textured Anaglyptas. Create further softness with textured walls, a huge interior trend in 2022. Try textured paint, such as Resene Sandtex, to give walls the look of Mediterranean adobe, or blend two colours using Resene FX Paint E ects medium, a tintable acrylic which creates a limewash or colourwash e ect. With light, colour and texture it’s easy to fill your home with cosiness this winter. Your fingers and toes will thank you for it.