Decorating colour trends for 2020

Decorating colour trends for don’t just come out of nowhere, they’re slowly progressing ideas, evolving bit-by-bit until they become ‘new’ and on trend, yet they are still similar variations of the same general theme.

Colours, materials, finishes and concepts build upon one another until they take shape into something better defined. Over the course of a decade or longer, we start to see the strongest and longest lasting combinations of the most prevalent ideas begin to become synonymous with a particular time or era. Locked into the pages of decorating and design history. You can take personal ‘cues’ from what the professionals like the team at Resene have on offer. Then you can choose what resonates most with your own style and taste.

Here are 3 decorating colour trends for 2020 from the team at Resene. We think these have longevity as trends go; and will take you into 2020 and beyond. 

  1. Au natural; on-trend neutral & nomadic traveler naturals
  2. Green flourishes; dusty, sage, and emerald 
  3. White warmed up; minimalism or summer vibe white & bright

Be sure to view all of the Resene 2020 key trends here:  Resene Habitat plus – decorating and colour trends 2020

Au natural

There are many interpretations of the natural look, here are 2 ways with neutrals:

1. Today’s on-trend natural look

While nature has long been a common inspiration for décor, woodland tones like mushroom greys, such as Resene Napa, and fern-inspired shades, such as Resene New Leaf, are among the most popular hues. Flora and fauna motifs are wildly popular too. Which has led today’s on-trend natural looks to split into two main sub-categories: those built from tonal palettes with natural textures layered on, and those with graphic botanical patterns.

To get the best of both worlds, start with a palette built from warm and neutral Resene colours. It’s easy to incorporate a bit of jungle flavour through tropical plants and something out of the menagerie to add some interest but still keep the space from feeling completely untamed.

The trend in hand-painted wall murals follows a relaxed, freehand style.  Including small painted features that meander over corners or other architectural details with sections of colour, doodled lines and curves that break the transition between walls, floor and ceiling. Gone are the days when the whole wall needed to be filled for the work to be finished. All you need is a small collection of Resene testpots and a little imagination.

Wall mural: Organic shapes and colours know no bounds – not even the edges of walls. These walls are painted Resene Rice Cake with freeform shapes painted in Resene Soothe and Resene Haystack with outlined shapes in Resene Noir.  Trend: see “minimalist murals

2. Neutral Nomadic traveller

The dusky earthy tones of this calm space layered with the natural fibres and wood tones make it feel as though you’ve just stepped into a luxury lodge after a trek through the savannah. It’s the sort of look that the well-travelled – or those who dream of travelling well – bring into their interiors to evoke exotic destinations. The look can be easily adapted to echo cultural motifs and colours from other countries and cultures.

The strong bold lines of the colour-blocked wall’s asymmetric pattern were inspired by a bird’s eye view of the patchwork formed by farmers’ fields. The rich dark brown fireplace and vertical stripe have been painted in wonderfully warm Resene Route 66 to create a focal point in contrast with the more neutral Resene Grey Olive (upper left), Resene Napa (right) and Resene Earthen (bottom). The whole look is grounded with the floor in Resene Quarter Spanish White, leaving the warmer shades space to shine.


Green continues to flourish

Greens are dustier – with sage, mint, olive, jade and emerald being the current favoured variations…

In this dining room, layers of tonal mint greens – Resene Nourish, Resene Kandinsky and Resene Aura – bring a cool freshness, while the creamy Resene Half Spanish White wall and the grain of the Resene Colorwood Whitewash floor balance out the space. The addition of leafy textures brings an invigorating and summery vibe.


Sage greens sit across from burgundy on the colour wheel. This distinction makes them complementary colours, which means the hues work well together thanks to their high contrast. As a timeless and classic colour, wine-inspired shades such as Resene Courage and Resene Salsa not only make them a great partner to on-trend sage but also a useful tool for building a look that has longevity.

Sage greens are equally suited for building tonal looks with silvery shades like Resene Helix and Resene Silver Chalice. Since tone-on-tone schemes are built on layering, the more you add, the more the whole scheme will hang together. The trick is to pick hues that complement with enough variation to keep things from becoming completely homogenous – and grey-greens like Resene Peace and Resene Secrets are particularly excellent to work with when you’re trying to create a restful space.


Jade and emerald greens have a sultry, worldly value to them that’s intrinsically tied to nature. They’re timeless in every respect and work beautifully when complemented by other natural elements and neutral tones. What we also love about these shades is how multi-purpose they are; you’ll find them suitable for everything from joinery to walls, furniture to accessories.

With a quick change of artwork, this space can subtly shift from a ‘she-den’ to a ‘he-den’ or a ‘we-den’.

They’re also surprisingly gender neutral, leaving no definite sense of masculine or feminine – because they hold the perfect balance of both. It might seem an unusual way to think about colour trends this way, but there are key times when a room that appeals to as many people as possible is important. A shared office or den, for example, needs to be a space that’s inviting and comfortable for whoever needs it.


Whites warm up

The minimalist movement has encouraged many of us to live a more clutter-free and thoughtful life. Shades associated with minimalism – such as creams, beiges and whites – are popular choices for anchoring interior colour palettes.

Creamier shades of white and, in particular, those that feature more colourful undertones have become desirable for their inherent simplicity that can also be manipulated with different types of lighting. Resene Half Tea – a timeless neutral that shifts dramatically richer and deeper as the sun sets – is a reigning favourite for this reason. Try it with a grey-beige like Resene Napa, deep purply browns like Resene Rebel or a steely blue like Resene Bismark.

Resene Cararra is another great option if you’d like a neutral white that still carries plenty of warmth. Try it with a golden beige like Resene Crowdpleaser, a muddy brown like Resene Route 66 and a deep gravel like Resene Porter. Or, look to a classic like Resene Half Spanish White and pair it with Resene Eighth Stonewashed.

On-trend palette anchored with whites and subtle coloured undertones

The vignette on this hall table beautifully demonstrates an on-trend palette anchored with whites that have subtle coloured undertones. The wall is painted Resene Merino, the artwork is in Resene Half Truffle with Resene Double Ash and Resene Tapa details, the table is in Resene Double Bison Hide, the wooden box and the bowl are in Resene Quarter Bison Hide and the vase is in Resene Canterbury Clay.



Endless summer whites & brights

Spaces like this dining room and these lounges are exactly the type of schemes where warm and creamy on-trend whites really come into their own. Whites with a subtle yellow-toned base like the perennially popular Resene Half Spanish White and its other variants give a softer and more inviting finish to a room, blurring edges, and complementing other bolder shades rather than throwing up sharp contrasts. This shade in particular, which was used on the walls of this dining nook, does a great job of enhancing bold colours like deep greens and wine reds, but it also works incredibly well with graduated layers of other neutrals. Or, try it with sun-baked shades of red and orange for a light and summery feel.

Resene Rice Cake is another great option for an on-trend warm white. It’s a sharp and clean yellowed white that works deliciously with strong colours. Try it with a hot pink like Resene Smitten, a vibrant yellow like Resene Hive and a leathery tan like Resene Tablelands.


The final word on Decorating and colour trends 2020…

Remember to be true to your style!

These decorating colours and trends are continuing to evolve and be redefined, so most importantly, use these as inspiring ideas which you can blend and combine with your own home and style. While it’s one thing to know what trends that are out there, it can be quite another to know how to translate them into your own project in a way that reflects your tastes and personality. The team at Resene will be at the Christchurch Home Show and will be happy to lend their expertise and work with you to create the perfect adaptation of 2020 decorating trends in your home. 

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Excerpts taken from Resene Habitat plus,  click the link to see the full range of 2020 Decorating colour trends here:  Resene Habitat plus – decorating and colour trends 2020