Thursday, February 22, 2024

A Minimalist vs a Maximalist – The Joy of Colour and The Beauty of Beige Debated by Capsule’s Editors

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Capsule x Resene 

There was a moment in the shared history of Capsule editors Emma Clifton and Kelly Bertrand’s friendship where they both realised they were wildly different people. 

Standing in the chaos that is Look Sharp trying to find balloons for Capsule’s first birthday party, the pair turned to each other, their choice of the ‘perfect’ balloons clutched in their hands, and burst out laughing when they spotted the other’s pick. 

Minimalist Kelly presented her balloon – a simple, clean and neutral option that would go with everything. Maximalist Emma had gone for a chaotic, joyful print of bright pink flamingos. 

Diametrically opposed when it comes to aesthetics – especially when it comes to their respective homes (which also double as Capsule’s roving office) – here Emma and Kelly make their case as to why their vibe reigns supreme. Plus, they make their ultimate palette picks, thanks to Resene. 


I would never use the word aesthetic but if I was forced to describe my, I don’t know, ***vibe*** I guess I would say it’s a combination of pre-makeover Ugly Betty, Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project and a kindergarten teacher/student. I like things so brightly coloured that the other day, when I was hanging out some washing, I looked at the items on the line and thought, “It looks like The Wiggles live here.”

As I write this, I am wearing a fluffy pink jumper over a pink tracksuit, sitting under a Christmas blanket (it’s October), I have four vases of dried flowers within my sight line and I’m drinking out of a mug covered in cats. I like all of the things, all of the time. I keep wondering when I will develop the taste of a grown-up but I’m now 36 and every time I wear a blazer, I still feel like I’m playing dress-ups as a Sensible Adult.

Because almost every item in my flat comes out of a Hospice shop, my flat has the aesthetic (shudder) of a grandmother’s house and do you know what? That is absolutely fine by me. Wrap me in fluffy things and bury me in florals.

When my partner first moved in with me, I lightly gritted my teeth at all of his very chic white-and-wood side tables and storage units but was full of joy at the chaotically floral Persian silk rug his mum packed him off from Iran with, because it fits so well in between my floral couch and my floral bedspread. Chaotically floral is all I ever want! 

A corner of Emma’s world

The purple walls from the flat in Friends? I love it. The turquoise kitchen from Stranger Than Fiction? Yes, please. Juliet’s bedroom from Romeo & Juliet? My #1 forever.

I want a flat that says ‘Yes, I’ve travelled and yes, I have limited savings but look at my Indian bedspread’ and that’s for the best, because that is the message my own flat SCREAMS at anyone who walks into it. (I first lured my partner home by asking him to ‘come and look at my Iranian coasters’ and it worked!)

I find colour to be joyful, inspiring and enthusiastic. I love to clash. The last things I bought were a rainbow striped picnic rug and a neon yellow sweatshirt. I love an outfit that is off-putting to men but makes a seven-year-old want to discuss books with me. I like a flat that feels like it’s Christmas-adjacent at all times. My sartorial idea of hell is a white shirt and black pants – but could I interest you in one of 11 nearly identical knee-length floral dresses? 


L-R: Resene Ballerina, Resene Wallpaper E300111, Resene Glorious, Resene Wallpaper E300115, Resene Buttermilk

So when it comes to my colour palette, it continues along with my colour ‘n’ clash mentality but with a crucial difference – as a renter, you are at the mercy of your landlord’s colour scheme (in my flat it is white, white, white, with the occasional browny taupe feature wall (!?!)) so when I want to introduce a pop of colour (and I mean a capitals letters POP of colour), it has to work in harmony with the walls around it. All of these colours are A+ Jazzy – and I’m also a sucker for a fun name, so that I can say “Oh this colour? It’s Resene Cabaret, darling,” – and they’ll bring some much needed spark to a world of white walls (my personal nightmare). Wallpapers are a great way to add interest to the back of free-standing closets and bookshelves, giving you a personal touch without compromising your deposit. The dream!


As I went to write this, I realised that making minimalism sound fun might actually be a trifle tricky. But, I swear to God, there is joy in beige. 

I’m writing this knee-deep in Emma’s worst nightmare. I am currently wearing, I kid you not, a white shirt and black pants (I just counted how many white shirts I have and it’s eight. EIGHT.) I’m sitting at a blonde wood desk with artfully-framed black and white line drawings, my notebooks (black and white and white and black, thanks for asking) arranged just so to my right and my glass candles flickering happily. 

All is well. All is calm. All is chic. 

Colour and me don’t get on. My house, my wardrobe even my car are just shades, really, save from a pop of green plant, a slash of orange from a Veuve Clicquot box that I, for some reason, won’t throw out.

Clutter is banished behind cupboard doors and in wardrobes (or in the boot of my car because I live in a house the size of a postage stamp. A purple mosaic mirror’s been lying in there for 13 years, I don’t have the heart to get rid of it because my intermediate art teacher made it for me – I used to hang out in the art room all lunchtime because I didn’t have any friends at school. Years seven and eight were not a great time for young Kelly, clearly – I’m absolutely rubbish at art.) 

Books are hidden – the multi-colour spines annoy me – and even the supermarket flowers I treated myself to are simple stems of white and green. Surfaces are styled and candles reign supreme as my decor of choice. 

A snapshot of Kelly’s life

It’s fair to say that Emma and I couldn’t be more opposite when it comes to personal style, and while her riot of colour is certainly cheerful, fun and HER (the most important thing really), my oasis of warm neutral and basic black and white makes me so incredibly happy, every single day. 

When I come home, I’m instantly at ease. I’m calm. I’m happy. My black leather couch, accented by just-the-right-fluffy neutral linen pillows and cosy, snowy knitted blanket, beckons me. The cream and black rug frames the area just so. My stone ceramic mug sits on the bench, waiting for me to try and make a decent coffee. My 10 different black dresses make dressing simple. And oooh! A pop of tan in the accessories? What a rebel. 

In case you can’t tell, I’m a Virgo – order and organisation thrills me – and I love the uncomplicated simplicity that a black, white and neutral palette gives me. It’s a hark back to nature, at the same time as a nod to the finite and infinite of black and white. 

It’s me, and I simply adore it. 


L-R: Resene Wan White, Resene Bleach White, Resene Cashmere, Resene Wallpaper E395831, Resene Wallpaper RD336

Ah, just look at that calm, chic, complementary palette. If I owned my own home (I mean I live in Auckland so don’t hold your breath on that one) THIS is what my house would be – warm, simple, welcoming. I adore the pops of texture and interest that wallpaper can give, especially when your palette is more muted. Buttery neutrals like the Resene Cashmere offer the depth you need for a home that isn’t just white walls and clinical practicality, while the Resene Wan White and Resene Bleach White will let your decor shine.

Find your own dream palette at

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