Edward Bullmer on paint for kid’s bedrooms
The Paint Master – Edward Bullmer
There is nothing this man doesn’t know about the beauty of proper paint:
Rooomy meets colour expert Edward Bullmer
Edward Bulmer is an interior designer with a passion for historical buildings. Living in Hertfordshire, Edward has spent the last 30 years working as a leading interior designer, architectural historian and ‘colourman. He’s an eco-warrier, farmer, husband and father to three daughters. He is renowned for restoring heritage buildings, bringing his expert knowledge and design flair to the creation of new modern spaces. He has restored some of Britain’s greatest historic buildings; Sotheby’s, Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Castle Howard to name a few.
Edward is a master in the art and science of colour, an expert with a mission to revive the world with natural colour. Imagine if you could invite one of the country’s leading interior designers into your home to advise you on colour choices and types of paint for either period or modern interiors, to help you chose a colour for your kid’s room … well Edward has done just that, creating a wonderful nursery edit selection. Rooomy has asked him how all of this has lead to the creation of natural paint and a whole range for children.
RB: Edward, you have an incredible background in interior design, steeped in your passion for history. Why the production of a paint range?
EB: As an interior designer it was paramount for me that I captured the perfect colour for each project, for each customer. I was able to take control of that process by mixing my own paints.
RB: What are you thinking about when you consider colour and the development of your range?
EB: I’m not, I don’t focus on the colour, it’s all about the tone. I enjoy thinking about elements such as the impact of darker pigments to create warmth, like coloured earth and spices.
RB: When you are designing a room, or a new colour option, do you have a specific goal each time or does this vary?
EB: There are a large number of differences in each project but my main aim is to always create comfort.
RB: You’ve been creating your natural paint range for 10 years; why have you developed a nursery selection at this time?
EB: Parents have been using our paints for their kid’s rooms for as long as we have been in business. In recent years parents have been giving much more consideration about how they decorate their children’s spaces, thinking differently about the effects of colour and also possible toxins. This new-found consciousness around bringing new life into the world and becoming parents was very moving to me, and it felt important for me to be a part of it.
“Parents can bring vivid colours into ther kids’ rooms if they like, and of course the kids will change
their room as they grow up. But starting with a muted palette avoids having to re-decorate very few years.”
RB: Your new range is a muted palette, no bright red, blue, or yellow. Is there any particular reason for this?
EB: I feel that muted tones create a fresher, softer and more comfortable environment for children. Parents can bring vivid colours into their kid’s rooms if they like, and of course the kids will change the room as they grow up. But starting with a muted palette avoids having to re-decorate every few years: accessories can just be changed, which is much easier and cheaper. I am not a fan of highly pigmented paints as it leaves me wondering what has been used to create such colours.
RB: What questions do you have about conventional paint ingredients?
EB: Mixing paint is all about getting the right tones. If natural products are being used as much as possible then tones will be calmer and more natural. To create a bright pink paint a lot more must be done with strong chemicals to create the colour than if you used a natural paint that had a muted pink finish. Have you ever noticed there’s no ingredient list on the side of a tin of paint?
RB: I haven’t. I have not looked for or considered needing to know. What should I be aware of?
EB: There is no requirement for the ingredients of paint to be listed. This means we are told what companies believe sounds reassuring. If a paint is described as ‘water-based’ we are told it is safe and eco-friendly; all paint seems to be made with ‘the finest ingredients’. But what does that mean?
For example, all paint needs binders in their ingredients. Conventional binders are made from waste hydro carbons processed by retort chemistry or ‘cracking’. Some studies are raising concerns about the effects of these binders, particularly in children. Plastic-based binders like these create a film that is not adequately breathable. This matters because properly ‘breathable’ paints allow the regulation of moisture in the air and prevent damp in the walls. By using natural oils like castor oil or linseed oil as binders, natural paints are significantly more breathable. As we don’t use petrochemicals, our paint can genuinely be called ‘eco-friendly’ or ecological. Micro beads are now being introduced to some paints and this is an awful development. Plastic should be kept for computers and solar panels.
RB: Can you remember when you first became aware of the need for a ‘healthy’ option of paint?
EB: At the turn of the century a client contacted me about her need for a natural paint. Her son was suffering with awful eczema and she had researched into possible links with chemicals in conventional paint and eczema. My paint was toxin free, better for her son and looked great, too. Win, win.
RB: That certainly is a win win. You have three daughters. They are grown up now, but did they get to choose their room colours when they were growing up?
EB: Two of them made choices I could work with easily, duck egg, off white, bluey greens which worked great. One had their heart set on mauve which I was able to make happen, despite my personal preferences.
RB: With your knowledge of colour, interiors and the history of both, what are your thoughts on how we choose the best colour for our children?
EB: A German poet called Goethe wrote beautifully about colour, and some of his definitions mean a lot to me. Goethe said that green is the most universal colour inviting balance as it is the result of mixing two primary colours. I also think that grey can be a great pallet if the tone is right. I often hear customers rejecting blue as it’s perceived as being too cold. But it’s the most popular colour in the world.
RB: What’s next for Edward Bulmer Paints?
EB: Well over the next couple of years I would like to add 20 more colours for the range and I’m really keen to develop a natural wallpaper range.
RB: You are clearly very passionate about looking after our children’s health, our homes, historical buildings and our planet. If you could wave a magic wand what would you wish for?
EB: To change the paint industry. A large legacy is being left that will be too expensive to clear up. All decorating can and therefore should be natural.
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