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Resene Colour Expert Brenda Ngatai shares her expert advice

Resene North Shore Colour Expert Brenda Ngatai is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration when it comes to paint and DIY. We chatted to her about what she loves about the industry, paint hacks and her best advice for choosing colours. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Every morning I read my emails and text messages. Then I contact customers who are needing or inquiring about our Resene colour service, I book customers in for onsite or in-store appointments, then I travel out to homeowners or meet them in their local Resene ColorShop. 

What do you love most about working at Resene?

Resene is a family-owned New Zealand business that was started in the mid-40s and is still run and owned by the same family. I love this most about the company, it’s down to earth, honest, and robust – it’s so Kiwi.

How did you get into the industry?

I needed a job quickly and saw a part-time role advertised in my local newspaper. I thought, “This will be OK until I find something full time” – that was 17 years ago!

According to Brenda, beginner's should start small with projects like repainting chairs or bedroom drawers. Chair in Resene Sambuca. Drawers in Resene Turtle Green and Resene Deep Oak.

What’s the easiest painting job you could recommend to a complete beginner?

Start off with something small, like a timber chair, a letterbox or a set of drawers. Call into any Resene ColorShop and let the staff know what you’re painting – they will give you the right advice, with undercoats, topcoats, accessories such as brushes, paint trays and sandpapers, and of course colour. 

Starting with a small project will help with mastering the use of a paintbrush and getting familiar with the products. Once you’ve succeeded with a small project your confidence goes up a few notches, then you can move on to something a bit bigger, like a bedroom.

What are the key issues people face when trying to decide on colour?

With renovations or repaints, the real concern is whether the new colour will work with what’s fixed? For example, if the colour of the aluminium window joinery is staying, or the flooring may not be changing, or the kitchen benchtop and cabinetry are staying. In this instance, it is often better to go with an onsite colour consultation. You can book a Resene Colour Consultation online here.

What is your best advice to customers and what do they need to consider?

Once good colour options have been discussed, it’s always best to try out the colour with a Resene testpot before making that bulk purchase. A $5 testpot makes all the difference to confirming the best colour choice.

Even experienced DIYers need a bit of expert advice sometimes! Brenda was on hand to help Alice Pearson (left) choose colours for her retro caravan makeover and Christina Dellar (right) pick the perfect wallpaper pattern for her dining room upgrade.

How do you guide customers through the process?

Often the conversation about the project is when things evolve, it’s so important to listen to what the project is about, and totally take onboard what the homeowner is wanting to achieve. Then from there, we discuss the options of colour. The reason why is also very important, as this gives your mind  clarity and understanding. 

What are your tips for making a room look and feel more inviting?

Lighting (natural and artificial), patterns, texture, an indoor plant or two and the same style of furniture helps hugely. If it’s big and bulky then go all the way, likewise if it’s rustic country, retro, or slinky and modern. A mixture of different styles can look unbalanced and out of place, unless you have a very careful eye and have that talent to turn a mixture of different types into a fun eclectic look, which is also cool.

What are you inspired by?

I love op shopping and calling into second-hand and recycling stores. I love seeing items from decades ago and what inspired them to paint the colours they used. 

What’s happening at your place this summer?

I plan to wash and clean my timber patio with Resene Moss & Mould Killer and Resene Timber and Deck Wash, then restain it with Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain in the colour Resene Driftwood.

What are your favourite colours?

The weather is warming up, so it’s time to enjoy the outdoors and get some much-needed Vitamin D – and get inspired by the beautiful colours in nature! Colours I love are Resene Chelsea Cucumber, Resene Half Moonbeam and for a light, clean upbeat neutral grey, Resene Geyser. These three colours look great with a simple and clean fresh white, such as Resene Alabaster.

What is the most common summer DIY question?

“Is summer a good time to paint exteriors?” Most customers are motivated to start preparing for exterior projects as the weather is warming up. And the answer to this question is “definitely yes”!

Any new Resene products that you’re keen to try?

I have an old small timber side table, so I intend to strip the existing paint off and try out our recently released Resene Colorwood We Speak Beach stain colour range, in the colour Resene Breathe Easy.

What is your best DIY advice?

Always use Resene testpots to try out your colours before committing to bulk buying the paint.  This small purchase can save you hundreds of dollars down the track. Also, whatever your project may be, especially for exteriors, cleaning the surface thoroughly first is the most important step. Over autumn and winter, moss, mould and other contaminants take hold on the surface and these must be removed to ensure a long-lasting new paint or stain finish.

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