Edward Bulmer Natural Paints

Court of Noke Pembridge Herefordshire HR6 9HW United Kingdom

Edward Bulmer is a leading British architectural historian, interior designer and colour expert. His projects include the restoration and redecoration of some of the country’s most important buildings including Kenwood House, Castle Howard, Goodwood, Home House, The Theatre Royal and Althorp, where he designed the Princess Diana memorial.

He is also an active eco-campaigner who wants to make our interior environments safer and healthier by returning to natural, non-toxic paint formulations. He calls this “The Revival of Natural Colour.”

“We started colouring this natural paint on a project at Goodwood and have never looked back. We quickly realised that natural paints had amazing qualities but were a minefield for the uninitiated. Natural paints were often supplied in powder form and seldom seemed to have sophisticated colour ranges.

Our first standard colour range was a response to this – ready-mixed, in straight forward finishes and only 25 colours to choose from! We have expanded the range since then and learnt a lot about what helps us be part of a successful project whether it be one room or a major redevelopment.

So why use natural heritage paint colours?

Three reasons – beauty, well-being and the planet

As paint is such a major part of a successful project, the colour and finish are of paramount importance. So much ‘plastic’ paint seems lifeless or too dense. The discovery of the soft, light-conjuring surface of a casein bound emulsion, or the perfect sheen of the linseed oil eggshell, was a revelation. When mixing with natural pigments it is impossible to make a nasty colour!

When I read that World Health Organisation research advised that painters were 40% more likely to contract lung cancer I was brought up short. As an interior designer I just did not want to feel that my choices could lead to long term health implications for my painters or give rise to asthma or other health problems for my clients. Of course not much can really be proved but I began to see that using natural paints with declared ingredients was an easy way to reduce the risks. As time goes on the REACH regulations will flush out more of the dangerous chemicals used in paint making but meanwhile we have tried to give information in this website to help more informed choices to be made when it comes to selecting or specifying paints.

The EU Paints Directive was a partial response to the ‘paint problem’. As paint contributed to ozone depletion amongst other things, we needed to produce more environmentally friendly paints. Paint making uses finite materials and huge amounts of energy. Natural and plastic paints are the same in that respect, but you can use a far higher degree of renewable materials in natural paints. Oils that come from annual crops, casein that comes from milk, resins that are harvested from trees – all are examples of minimally processed ingredients that have traditionally been used for paint making and still are for natural paints. Plastic paints are largely made from petro-chemicals – these are derived from refining crude oil which was all stored carbon until we brought it to the planet’s surface.

It has been an easy decision for us to work with natural paints – they were always out there – it just took a bit of work to get them more ‘user friendly’. To be able to have such lovely finishes and wonderful natural heritage paint colours in order to tackle these health and environmental issues made our decision pretty straight forward, not to say natural.”

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