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Sweet as ensuite: The Do Up goes green

Blair and Gretchen Houston are nearing the end of their stunning renovation, transforming their Kingsland bungalow using some bold, inspired ideas and the power of Resene paint. They’ve left the best to last – after ticking off their main bathroom most recently, they’re embarking on their ensuite. It was very much a shell when they began and as their confidence has grown exponentially throughout their renovation journey, they were a little more adventurous and didn’t feel the need to play it safe in here. 

“I wanted to create something a bit bolder than I’d usually do with all the gorgeous colours out there,” says Gretchen. “I wanted to create a Turkish spa type vibe but with a modern twist.” 

The plan was to create a shower along the entire back wall and use the gorgeous treen tiles Gretchen had sourced as a starting point for the colour concept to evolve, which she hoped would incorporate hues of terracotta and red. 

Colour advice

To finetune her vision and turn it into something workable, as always, Gretchen headed into her local Resene ColorShop to talk it through with Resene Colour Expert Amy Watkins.

Gretchen showed Amy her original mood board and a sample of the tiles, and together they discussed how to expand the colour palette without it being too overwhelming. Amy suggested Resene Rivergum, which is a cool mid-grey green, as well as Resene Cashmere as a complementary colour. “It’s beautiful because it’s got that depth and that interest, but it’s soft,” explains Amy.  

Amy also steered Gretchen away from adding a third strong colour to the mix as it would start to take away from the finer details they had planned for the room. Instead she recommended Resene Quarter Tea, a muted beige with a little bit of brown, but that still has an element of grey.

Gretchen headed to her local Resene ColourShop to find out what Resene paint colours would work best alongside the colour of the tiles she'd chosen for the ensuite. Amy shows her Resene Rivergum and Resene Quarter Tea.
While Gretchen was sorting the colours, Blair was getting the walls prepped for painting by applying a coat of Resene Waterborne Sureseal pigmented sealer.

Setting the scene

Once the colour palette was finalised, the prep work in the ensuite began. Blair and the couple’s eldest daughter Gwynnie used Resene Waterborne Sureseal pigmented sealer to seal the plasterboard walls. The tiles were then installed, and Blair set about painting the ceiling with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen the colour Resene Ravine. It’s a dry cloudy green that creates an inviting ambiance and makes a change from the white ceilings that the couple (and many DIYers!) usually opt for. It’s always a good idea to start from the top and work your way down when painting a room, so any splatters won’t matter. 

Blair also shared his top tip for making life much easier when painting a ceiling: pulling the light fittings out so that they dangle. It saves far more time than taping and painting around them. Just take care when working around electrical wires.  If in doubt, switch the power off or talk to an electrician.

Next it was time to paint the walls. After taping around the tiles to protect them and cutting in with a paintbrush, Gretchen used a roller to apply Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Quarter Tea. The taupe shade of this colour complements the lush, earthy tones of the other hues used in the space.

Details, details

A key aspect of Gretchen’s vision for the ensuite was to paint an arch on the wall to create symmetry with the curved shower screen and shared that where to start was one of the key challenges she faced. “Deciding where to put the arch and bringing it all together as a cohesive look was tricky!”

As she’d never attempted anything like it before – and as the top of the arch needed to be painted freehand – Gretchen did lots of practice on cardboard before tackling the real thing. Using painter’s tape to mask out the sides of her arch, she then sketched the top curve using a pencil, mirroring the curve of the shower screen. She found the key to creating a uniform line was to keep the brush going for as long as possible. Once that was done, she filled in the rest of the arch using a roller and Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Cashmere. 

“It looks a little bit thicker at the top of the arch but what we’ve learnt in this process is that paint is actually really forgiving, and when it dries it makes you look like a better painter than you actually are!” she laughs.

After practicing on some cardboard, Gretchen felt confident painting the arch onto the wall in Resene Cashmere.
The textured panels were a dream to paint on and showcase the depth of colour in Resene Vantage Point. Lower wall also in Resene Vantage Point, upper wall in Resene Quarter Tea.

Another unique aspect of the design was incorporating feature wall panels. “I ordered them from Belgium as I really wanted to create some shadowing with the paint,” Gretchen explains. “They took a while to arrive, which delayed things, but they are gorgeous and perfectly showcase the green.” 

In the end Gretchen decided to use Resene Vantage Point, a smoky green that was a little lighter than the Resene Rivergum she’d previously discussed with Amy. She painted the panels and lower wall using Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen, which created a stunning contrast, and also painted a stool in the soft terracotta shade Resene Sante Fe.

The couple are understandably thrilled with their finished ensuite. “I love the way it makes me feel, it’s like a mini escape within our home,” says Gretchen. “Amy, Resene’s Colour Expert, was amazing as always and the entire instore team are friendly and helpful as well.”

Follow Blair and Gretchen’s renovation journey here:
Part 1 – Lounge

Part 2 – Hallway and entrance
Part 3 – Gwynnie’s bedroom
Part 4 – Kitchen
Part 5 – Family bathroom
Part 6 – Ensuite

The original ensuite was taken back to a shell in order to accommodate the new design, and the couple decided to go bold in their stunning ensuite. Ceiling painted in Resene Ravine, walls in Resene Quarter Tea, arch in Resene Cashmere, wall panel in Resene Vantage Point, stool in Resene Sante Fe.

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