Interview: Sharon Grech – Colour & Décor Expert, Benjamin Moore

WHO: Sharon Grech
WHAT: Colour & Décor Expert, Benjamin Moore & Regular guest on City’s Cityline
WHERE: Toronto

Sharon GrechTell us about your research process?

It really starts with observation—what is happening now? What are people talking about? Society, politics, the environment…and yes of course, even popular culture. This serves as the backdrop to our research and our discussions. Each member of our Colour Team travels both domestically and abroad to keep a finger on the pulse and record our impressions of the use of colour in various industries, which includes everything from Automotive, Art, Fashion to Home Furnishings, Retail and Cosmetics.

We also scout design shows of all sizes such as the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Maison & Objet in Paris, Art Basel Miami, ICFF New York, IDS in Toronto and IDS West in Vancouver. Our research is ongoing and we meet regularly as a team with our Creative Director to rein in our discoveries and find that elusive thread that will pull the colour story together.

Where is your favourite place to travel for inspiration?

Anywhere I find myself, I try to be a magnet for colour inspiration!  I love to travel, and looking back at almost two decades of projects, I can see that nature inspired many of them. I just recently returned from three weeks in Australia and am still pinching myself! I am completely in awe of the outback—so harsh and yet such unexpected diversity in colour from natural to vivid. I feel like it will inspire my work for years to come!Benajmin Moore 7

Where is the most unusual place you’ve found inspiration?

Just outside of Montreal, I photographed an abandoned shipping container with my iphone. It was such a striking colour with a beautiful natural patina, surrounded by flowering weeds! A perfect Instagram moment!

The ‘Colour of the Year’ is Guilford Green. Can you tell us about this colour and why it was chosen as ‘Colour of the Year’?

Although there are a lot of colour stories in the marketplace, our team collectively felt that we needed to provide the perfect backdrop. We were seeking a colour that was neutral (but not beige or grey), but could also add beauty on its own or just sit back and let the other elements in the room shine. We played around with other greens, and certainly have a variety in our 2015 guide, but Guilford Green HC-116 rose to the top as that one that worked with everything—truly a new neutral!

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What advice would you give someone who is nervous to paint their home?

Do some homework, tear from magazines, create a Pinterest board and of course watch Cityline for inspiration. But really, don’t agonize over it, don’t overthink it, just do it. Benjamin Moore retailers are wonderful resources and can make the technical part a breeze for you. It is truly amazing how transformational a paint makeover can be for a relatively low investment, you will be so happy you did it!Benjamin Moore 5Are there any common mistakes people make when choosing a paint colour?

Often people will choose a colour that is lighter than the one they really want. Once you have narrowed down to a hue family, select a few options of varying values and chroma. Most often, it isn’t that you need the colour to be lighter, it just needs to be “toned down” or a little less bright. The best way to avoid mistakes is to purchase a few pint samples and TEST-DRIVE the colour options on your wall or on boards. You need to see the paint colour in the context of the room.

Benjamin Moore 2What sets the Benjamin Moore brand apart from other paint companies?

Benjamin Moore has been the industry leader in technology, innovation and colour since 1883. I am proud to be part of a company so dedicated to innovation and sustainable manufacturing practices. As result, they have developed the most eco-responsible formulations possible. Certainly in my mind, the independent retailer network is also a huge asset that sets them apart. The expertise and commitment that you receive when you walk into your local independent retailer is personal and unrivaled. I love Benjamin Moore Retailers!Benjamin Moore 3We love the beautiful homes used to illustrate the various paint colours of the season. Tell us about the process of finding the perfect house to showcase the latest paint colours?

This might seem a little odd, but we always give our colour families a persona – and from there we act like real-estate agents pairing the colours with the perfect home! Our 2015 berry family includes colours such as Cinnamon Slate 2113-40, Old Claret 2083-30, and Portland Gray 2109-60. We felt this family suited a more traditional estate—something classic to carry the beautifully rich, saturated hues as well as the fashionable gray and graceful pinks. Our Creative Director works closely with the photographers and scouts to ensure the colours and the homes are a perfect match, which results in gorgeous, authentic images.Benjamin Moore 6What is your favourite part about being a colour expert?

I have been lucky to pursue a career that allows me to pair my fine-art training with the interior decorator and communicator within me!  

What colour trends are you starting to see emerge for next season?

I do see the blush family from palest to full bloom creeping over the horizon. There is an understated elegance about this palette, and we’ve been seeing it on the runways for a few seasons, so it will be an easy transition to home fashion.Benjamin Moore 1

SHARON’S FIVE FAVOURITES

Paint Colour at the Moment
Firenze AF-225

Room in your home
Kitchen – it’s over 10 years old but it’s still the life of the party!

Place to relax and unwind
A walk on the boardwalk in Toronto’s Beach Neighborhood

Hidden Gem in Toronto
Te Aro

Dream travel destination
Morocco

For more information on Benjamin Moore, visit benjaminmoore.com