8 paint color tips from sustainable paint expert Edward Bulmer

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Blame the old estates that abound in England, as it was years of browsing properties that led to Edward Bulmer’s fascination with color. (They’re also the subject of his forthcoming book with Rizzoli.) Among the go-to British designers for large restoration projects, Bulmer is also an architectural historian and the founder of an eponymous natural paint range from herbal ingredients – a line often cited in AD100 talent resource guides, including Martin Brudnizki.

Edward Bulmer

Photograph courtesy of Edward Bulmer

This versatile range of earth and mineral pigments takes center stage in Working with “Colour: A Guide to Pigments, Paints, and Palettes,” Bulmer’s just-launched online course for the Creative Learning Platform. Create Academy.

During the 23-part video series (which includes over four hours of teachings), Bulmer explores the theory of color and its impact on decor through the ages, and how best to engage with it. in design drawings. This helpful information is backed up by glimpses of cheerful spaces at Bulmer’s refurbished Queen Anne mansion in Herefordshire, England, including a lime-green bathroom and master bedroom swathed in 18th-century hand-painted Chinese wallpaper.

“A lot of designers have an innate sense of color, but can’t explain why it’s good,” Bulmer told AD PRO, adding that “Working with color” will give viewers confidence in their decisions. “There’s a design element that’s based on fundamental guiding principles, and for me, that’s the use of effective pigments.” Whether it’s sticking to those traditional tones or embracing contrasting hues, here are eight takeaways from Bulmer’s illuminating tutorial.

Think of color as a language

“I see color as having its own grammar and I would define that grammar as depending on a set of pigments that we’ve been using for a very long time,” Bulmer explains in the course. So long, in fact, that the expert considers paint (along with fur coats) among the very first consumer goods in the world, dating back to the Paleolithic era when crushed and diluted red and yellow ocher extracted from the earth was used extensively. “If you have the grammar, you can form your own vocabulary,” he says. These earthy pigments continue to inform all of Bulmer’s work, as he reasons “just as a chef would use seasoning, they are as fundamental to me as salt and pepper”.

Stay with nature’s range

Using a fundamental palette of three primary colors, the paint industry has been able to concoct an extraordinary and sometimes overwhelming range of paint colors. The point is, says Bulmer, focusing on a clean palette of earthy hues. “I pretty much have today what artists have been using for literally a few millennia,” he says, referring to his paint studio’s 12-color offering. Recalling his days as a photography restoration assistant and the similar colors he used at the time, he adds that if “there was enough pigment to restore 500 years of art”, then it’s surely enough to produce the paint colors “needed to hang this art on it”. top of.”

“A wall color’s main job is to know its place, to be the backdrop,” Bulmer explains.

Photograph courtesy of Edward Bulmer

Trust a color wheel

Before committing to a painting, Bulmer always checks that the heat given off by the color and its weight are synchronized with the other components of the design scheme. The most effective gauge is the color wheel – “a very good friend”, as Bulmer describes it. Every designer should have one in their bag, he continues, “because if you want to combine colors successfully – and some of those colors can be quite contrasting – the way to do that and ensure balance is select a color that is diagonally opposite the color on the color wheel.

Understand the tonality

A well-designed interior can feature a myriad of patterns on furniture and soft finishes, but chances are, Bulmer says, there’s an underlying tone that ties those patterns together. In the course, Bulmer dwells on the meaning of the subject: “I am describing a characteristic of color that moves it from one part of the spectrum to another,” he explains. “Useful tonality is one that embodies something that integrates it into the overall language of the piece, the language that brings all the other finishes to the piece.” A bright red on its own, for example, may be devoid of tone, but by modulating it with earth pigments, “you’ll get a much softer, much softer, much more accommodating tone,” says Bulmer. “Tone is crucial – it’s mandatory, if you will – but color is still a matter of choice.”

Forge a dialogue

Painting is just one aspect of a space, and it should play well with everything around it. “Knowing that you have a common grammar across the materials you use — hard finishes, paint finishes, soft finishes — is actually going to underscore your ability to create harmony,” Bulmer points out. It’s beneficial “not only because you’ll get a diet that’s nice to look at, but actually because you’ll get a diet that’s easy to live with,” he adds. “While some of us chase drama, most of us just decorate to create a conducive home. [to our lifestyles].”

Work with what you have

A redesign of an existing space usually leaves a few defining features intact, whether it’s a wooden beam, stone flooring or a marble fireplace. Consider these features a color cue, “even if you don’t particularly admire them,” Bulmer says, calling some customers who dislike the black marble fireplaces they inherited. Rather than just putting energy into other parts of the design, “the best thing to do is to work with what you can’t change and integrate it so well that it stops being a defining feature of the piece and something you gladly accept”. Bulmer elaborates.

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