Q&A with Edward Bulmer
As one of the country’s leading architectural historians, Edward has been involved in the restoration and redecoration of some of the country’s most important country houses (Goodwood, Hampton Court, Chequers and Althorp to name just four). Part of this process involved the creation of a range of natural, environmentally friendly, historically sympathetic paints, and it was from this that Edward’s eponymous paint company evolved.
Combining Edward’s designer’s eye for colour with his passion for sustainability and natural ingredients, his paints are fast becoming the go-to range both for interior designers and those looking for a toxin-free alternative to conventional paint. Edward has recently joined forces with the OKA Interior Design Service to supply all the paint for their interior design projects and you will find Edward Bulmer Natural Paints featuring prominently in our stores and throughout our inspirational room sets. If you’re wondering what the dreamy sea blue that’s featuring in many of our store windows right now is, it’s Vert de Mer. Oh and before you ask, his favourite colour is green.
Where are you right now and can you describe the view from the nearest window?
In my office! I have a view into the Victorian farmstead, which has a wonderful mix of buildings from half timbered, through stone, brick and weather-boarded, and towering over it is a great corrugated iron Dutch barn built pre 1885.
Can you tell us why we should all be using natural paint?
It is healthier for you, your building and the planet! This is because it is not made from petro-chemicals – it is not plastic (acrylic) in other words. The paint does not contain or release toxins, it is breathable to prevent damp getting trapped and it is made from renewable ingredients meaning it is carbon neutral. Most of all though it just looks a lot more beautiful as the natural pigments refract the light to give a soft but living finish!
What are you working on at the moment, colour-wise? And what inspired it?
I have just finished a range called ‘Lighter Shade of Pale’ which takes 8 of our best-selling colours and gives three lighter shades of each. We are now testing it with designers.
Have we reached peak grey? And if so what’s next?
Grey should never leave the repertoire but it may not retain its ubiquity, after all a grey palette in a grey country can be a bit life sapping! For me greys work well if they are the right tonality and I see far too many that are steely and cold. A softer earthier tonality can easily rectify this though. I tend to use it for neutral spaces, feeling that our living rooms deserve colour as it makes a happier background to our life. Greens and pinks are definitely on the rise in terms of our customers.
Can you tell us a bit about your home and HQ, the Court of Noke and about the restoration you’ve undertaken there?
We bought this untouched but forlorn Queen Anne house 20 years ago. It was unimproved and had become a farmhouse within 100 years of being built. We have basically turned it back into the house it started out being and it has become a comfortable and practical family home. We have remodeled rooms and filled it with a mix of antique and new things and sorted out the heat loss so that it is cosy and welcoming!
What advice would you give someone trying to choose a wall colour?
Give yourself a starting point – there will nearly always be something you can’t change like a floor or a beam that will have a colour and tone. Whatever colour you choose should then recognise this to create harmony between the room’s architecture and the decorative scheme.
And, once you’ve chosen your wall colour, are there any hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing colours for the ceiling and woodwork?
The rules are general rather than hard and fast. Flat ceilings should be a white that is lighter than the whites used on woodwork. The tone of the white should follow that of the wall colour. White (or off-white really) is the traditional choice, but darker shades (matching or contrasting) can give a more modern look or a more utilitarian feel.
You have forged some fantastic collaborations including working with Juliet Sargeant on her Gold Medal winning Chelsea Garden last summer. Have you any other exciting projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Teaming up with OKA to supply the paints for your interior design projects is an incredible opportunity for us. It allows us to form a working partnership where we can show how our paints sit so well with OKA’s caring ethos, as well as being able to share our experience of all the issues that painters’ face and the things to consider when putting together colour schemes.
Which is your favourite season and why?
This one in many ways (autumn) – before the cold sets in and as summer gives way to the amazing colouring that nature does to prepare for the winter.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Always try to be helpful without then seeing that someone ‘owes you’ for that help.
What is your best-loved possession?
Our house, as I can spoil it but at the same time make sure that it remains a cherished family home.
Of all the many great British houses that you have been involved with, which would you most like to live in and why?
To be honest they are all larger than I would want to live in but I am going to say Goodwood as there is never a dull moment there. From racing events to festivals to launches and celebrations – house and estate are always buzzing! It is also a stone’s throw from the coast and is the largest organic farm in Europe.
Seaside or rolling hills?
Up with the lark or last to bed?
Last to bed.
Dogs or cats?
Box set or good book?
Poolside or fireside?
Twitter or instagram?
Spotify or the radio?
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