Playing favorites is never easy. Ellen O’Neill, creative director at our sister Berkshire Hathaway company, Benjamin Moore, and her team had their work cut out for them when it came to choosing the 2015 Color of the Year from 3,500 contenders. The winner? Guilford Green HC-116. We had a chat with O’Neill about picking a winner, color selection, design and how you can bring color into your own home.
How does the Benjamin Moore team select the color of the year?
It’s boots-on-the-ground research. We go to anything that’s at the epicenter of design projection, regardless of the industry, and pick up the color cues that we see emerging. We could get an idea for a color palette from an article on spice markets in Morocco in a travel magazine—there’s always a color message to anything.
How did Guilford Green rise above the other colors?
Four to six months in, we saw that green was emerging as a dominant color. Green felt energetic and fresh. Design was sort of dormant during the recent economic crisis, especially in the housing and home-furnishing industry. Last year, we took the color palette away from the non-color colors: the putties, the creams, the grays. As we like to say, it could be the hero or the highlight in the room.
With color trends changing year to year, how can people reflect that in their homes without re-painting every year?
First of all, we know you’re going to get a shelf life of at least eight years out of our product. You want to pick a color that you’re going to be able to live with for eight years. A color like Guilford Green is a livable, endurable color. You can bring trend in and look updated with throw pillows, throw blankets, table settings, etc., that telegraph to your guests that you’re aware of those trends.
Are there rules for matching paint colors that every homeowner should know?
No, I don’t think there are rules to follow. I think color is very personal. The best thing to do is to go into the store and get a couple of samples, go home and put them on the wall. Only you have your conditions. Everybody has to have more faith in their own eye.
How can a color scheme help people accomplish their interior design goals?
I gravitate to my favorite colors; you know this from your own wardrobe and what you like to wear. You’ve got to figure out what you want your world to feel like when you’re in a room and then start with colors that either make you cozy or make you happy or colors that make the space feel more organized and clean. So, pick your colors and then go out and look at fabric and rugs, and everything starts to feel like it’s part of that warm world—one world of color.
What’s your best advice for not getting overwhelmed by a painting project?
I think Martha Stewart was brilliant in sort of breaking it down to Painting 101: know your tools, your materials and your steps. I think the more you know the process, the less intimidated you feel. Prep is the most important and then product is almost just as critical. I think the reason why our paint is the go-to for designers is that our product performs. It doesn’t streak, it’s not blotchy and one coat does the trick. You can cut out a lot of those margins for error if you’re getting the right product.
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