At Home With Edward Bulmer, Founder of the Next Great British Paint Line
Last May, I lunched with designer extraordinaire and paint company founder, Edward Bulmer in his stunning Queen Anne home in Herefordshire, England. So who is Edward Bulmer, you ask?
When the folks who own Althorp (Princess Diana’s family home) want to freshen up the place, they call him. After studying art history at university, Edward cut his teeth with designer David Mlinaric and worked with Tom Helme (the guy who “made” Farrow & Ball). Edward works on important English Country Homes (the ones with names and titles). Not surprisingly, Edward Bulmer’s own house is a dream.
Settle back for a full tour including my own exclusive exterior photos, together with design tips from Edward, who I sat next to at lunch. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for Edward’s top 3 tips for paint color selection.
Credits for all of the interior photos also are found below. I couldn’t take my own shots. As is so often the case with the best private homes I visit with The Decorative Arts Trust (DAT), there was a “no interior photos” ban in place. I always put my iPhone under lock and key once indoors and never sneak a snap! I want to keep traveling with DAT and thank them for arranging this visit.
As soon as our bus pulled onto the grounds of Edward’s estate, I knew I was in for a treat.
I fell in love with the trim color on what I thought were stables. Turns out the outbuildings are headquarters for Edward’s paint company.
I strolled by these charming buildings and past some breathtaking climbing roses to approach the house.
The brick house, known as the Court of Noke, was built around 1700. Edward sensitively modernized it. I love his balanced approach to historic restoration. “I don't like restoring everything to within an inch of its life or stripping out everything…” Edward says. I agree.
The house is surrounded by T-shaped canals , complete with swans. Edward told me that he and his wife expanded the back of the house to be fully enclosed by a walled garden so his kids would stay safely out of the picturesque but child magnet waterways.
Garden Hall and Powder Room
I entered the home through the garden door into a popping turquoise hall and quickly grabbed a chance to duck into a charming powder room, mostly just to see it. Great wallpaper.
Then I headed to the dining room. Here the walls were painted a luscious aqua blue green, not the gray you see in this photo. They were hung with a marvelous collection of old master paintings. (Art collectors, here is your nascent market-- get them while they are cheap!)
When I sat down, my eyes fell upon some of the most interesting window treatments I had ever seen. I tickled myself for my fortuitous choice of seats, especially when our host entered and sat down next to me.
Poor Edward, I soon peppered him with decorating and paint color questions. Alas, I can’t buy the curtain fabric. Edward explained that he cleverly designed it using a Watts of Westminster wallpaper border. Edward asked Watts to print the border in bands on cotton. Take a note home décor lovers: it is a marvelous idea to try with a local supplier.
Next I turned our discussion to the gorgeous wall colors. Soon I learned that Edward developed a line of eponymous natural paints (no nasty chemicals) and was an expert on color selection. It was his paints, of course, that covered all of the walls of his home. Edward told me that he uses the dining room as a color laboratory of sorts, repainting it constantly. Just a week prior it was fuschia! Here is a shot from Edward’s Instagram showing the aqua blue that I saw.
I can’t remember what we ate at lunch, because I was so excited to see the remainder of the house.
Edward first led us to the front entrance hall where I was struck by the subtle pink wall color. It reminded me of a custom mix I made for my master bedroom in a former home. Edward explained that he uses a lot of earth pigment in his paints to ground them. That’s why his pink isn’t too sweet—there is plenty of dirt in it! I did similar when I mixed my pink paint, adding lots of black pigment to gray it out.
On one side of the entrance hall was his music room--- a large space he created by combining two rooms. Edward designed the sofas and used textiles from a family trip to India.
A more informal family room, furnished with a cozy mix of old plus new, is found on the other side of the entrance hall. The paneling is original to the c. 1700 house. Contemporary lighting and art jazz up the space.
Since I have been traveling with DAT, I never miss an offered chance to head up to the second floor of the homes we tour (which means I go to the bathroom a lot!) . The staircase is original. Upstairs, I peeked into the open door of a bedroom with a Chippendale-style bed and visited an apple green bathroom.
The master bedroom door was closed, but I found it online. I may be house obsessed, but I haven’t stooped to opening closed doors in private homes.
Edward Bulmer’s Tips for Choosing Paint Colors
I would love to repaint my apartment using Edward’s paints, but he told me he had no plans to bring them to the USA.
I really hope he changes his mind. Don’t you?
Edward Bulmer’s Top 3 Tips for Choosing Paint Colors:
1. Focus on the tones—warm or cool, to balance your shades.
2. Draws hues from your art work.
3. Make friends with your color wheel. Opposites do attract.
Edward Bulmer’s portrait from UK House & Garden. All interior photos from UK House & Garden except the aqua blue version of Edward’s dining room from his Instagram. Front of the house showing the reflection and swans from Edward’s Instagram. Exterior photos of the back of the home and the canals from UK House & Garden. All other exterior photos by Lynn Byrne. All UK House & Garden photos by Lucas Allen.