Carl Minchew on painting and color | Home Front

Oct 16, 2014

Carl Minchew is the Vice President of color innvoation and design for Benjamin Moore. Minchew manages color collections, systems, tools and merchandising, as well as the creative design studio, which provides creative services, including procurement of labels and merchandising.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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The topic of paint is one of the most popular subjects on this chat. So today I'm happy to welcome Carl Minchew, Vice President of color innovation and design for Benjamin Moore. Carl is ready to answer your questions and to talk a bit about their Color of the Year which was released this week. Let's get going.

The wood in our 1900 Victorian has been stripped of the multiple layers of paint that had been added over the years, but we aren't sure what to do next. We'd really like to keep the "natural finish" and aren't looking for something shiny/glossy but realize the wood needs to be protected from sun, etc. Can you provide any suggestions?

You have lots of options.  Assuming the interior wood is looking great and you want to show it off, you can simply apply a low luster varnish.  This will protect the wood from stains and sun but leave it looking natural.  You can also choose a very light stain that enhances the look of the wood, this can be helpful if there is any discoloration you want to mask.  For varnishes we recommend Benjamin Moore's Benwood Stays Clear Acrylic Polyurethane.  As a stain we recommend Benwood Waterborne Interior Stain.  Good luck!

Love the 2015 Color of the Year, Guilford Green, but I am intimidated when it comes to incorporating color into my home. Any suggestions?

Thanks for the comment, we are very excited about Guilford Green too!  One great way to use color is to use a monochromatic color scheme. This means focusing on one color but using different depths and intensities to create interest.  There are several examples in our Color Trend 2015 color card.  Keep in mind that we specifically selected colors that will work together in almost limitless combinations--stick with colors in the card and you will be fine!


Hi -- We are trying to embrace our 1930's lavender tiled bathroom by painting the walls grey. Is it too much to also paint the ceiling grey? I'm worried that it might appear to dark and make the room seem smaller. (The bathroom does have a window though so it gets decent light.) If we leave the ceiling white, how should we handle the side of the ceiling that is angled due to the roof line? Do we stop at the bottom of the curve or paint up to the top of curve?

Great question.  I think keeping the ceiling white is good idea to enhance the light.  Consider bringing the white ceiling color down about an inch or so on the wall which will accentuate the space as well.

Thoughts on painting a ceiling in a color other than white?

We call the ceiling the fifth wall--you are not limited to white.  Depending on the room you can use the ceiling to create some drama or just carry a color them depending on the depth of color you choose.  It's a great place to be creative!

My home is dark brick and I'm considering painting it. Not sure where to start in terms of the type of paint. Should it be primed first, and should I use acrylic or oil based paint?

First the brick should be in good condition, check the morter and make sure the brick itself is sound.  Priming will seal the brick if it is porous--then topcoat a premium latex paint such as Benjamin Moore's Regal Select Exterior Paint.

I'm wondering your thoughts on painting a bathroom black. Specifically it's an upstairs full bathroom that has a skylight and white wainscoting, white toilet/sink/tub and white subway tile. If yes, what paint finish would you recommend?

A black bathroom will be very dramatic and interesting.  We would recommend Aura Bath & Spa which comes in a matte finish and is available in any color.  Try Universal Black, 2118-10, from our Color Trends 2015 Collection.

Have you considered a slightly metallic light gray/silver (with lots of white in it). It's a classic and goes so well with lavender. The metallic quality will also brighten things up.

Thanks for this suggestion.

My hardwood floors are looking dull and showing scratches. Unfortunately refinishing is not in the budget for this year. Any suggestions on how to improve the looks it until I have the funds to refinish?

In the old days, they used to wax floors to fill in scratches and make them shine.  If refinishing isn't in the budget try a floor polish or wax to make them gleam!

My husband wants a room that he can call his own. Our sunroom is next to the family room (Wyeth blue BM) and our Kitchen (Cork BM) - what color would match/be in the same family for his oasis/retreat. Thanks.

Well, without knowing his taste I would suggest Guilford Green, HC-116--Our color of the year!  It is a great slivery green, not too bright but not too dark.  Should be just right and will complement different lighting conditions from daylight to the TV's glow.

I live in the Pacific Northwest in a mid-century home with a large overhang. Consequently, my home is naturally dim. What ceiling color do you suggest? Thanks so much, Susan T

You can't go wrong with white in this situation but a light pastel that compliments the walls an furniture will also enhance what natural light there is.  Stay with a light color!

S: Paint stores should give away coloring books and crayons in paint colors. All the future customers are 6 years old. Stop intimidation early.

A great place to start is with our Color Trends 2015 collection.  These colors work well together and you you choose from several color directions.  Benjamin Moore's Affinity Collection contains 144 colors that also coordinate easily and are fun to work with.  Great suggestion about coloring books--some Benjamin Moore retailers already do this!

What colors would you say are "out" as in out of style and no longer pleasing to most people.

These days almost anything goes!  Color is so personal it is hard to say what is out--as soon as we say that someone will find a great way to use it.  Benjamin Moore's Color Trends 2015  captures the color direction of the moment by bringing together the colors we see in fashion and home furnishings and is always a great jumping-off point.

The basement in our townhouse has wood paneling. Although there are two windows, I'd like to make it look more "sunny". Are there any products we can use to paint over the paneling or do we need to prep it somehow?

Wood paneling is actually easy to paint.  The key is to make sure there is no wax or dirt on the surface.  You probably don't need a primer but if there is a lot of contrast between the panel and the seams you might want to use a primer so the seams aren't so obvious.  Painting is a great solution to your problem, stay with lighter colors such as Pink Damask OC-72 (don't panic, it's not that pink!).

Hello, The walls in my home are a neutral beige, which I like. However, I’d really like to have some fun with my first floor powder room. It is currently painted a dark brown, which is too dark and boring. Most of my first floor decorative accessories and art contain shades of brick red, navy, grey, brown, black and white. Any suggestions for the powder room? Thank you!

Powder rooms are a great place to play with color!  You have lots of colors to choose from, I particluarly like the brick red--it can be dramatic but soft at the same time.  I suggest Bricktone Red 2005-30 as a starting point but you could go a bit lighter or deeper if you wish.

It seems to me that rather than particular colors getting outdated, combinations of colors get outdated.

We agree!  This year in our Color Trends 2015 card we focus on monochromatic color schemes.   The idea as has been around for years but we see it picking up steam. For instance pairings of reds and magentas, unheard of at one time are now all around us.  Monochromes are a terrific new (old) way to be creative.

Hi Carl and Jura! My mom just moved to Florida and is looking to paint her bedroom a light gray color (nothing with blue undertones). Do you have any suggestions for a neutral, light color?

Obviously we want to stay with warmer tones that contain red, orange or yellow but not too intense.  Try Peau de Soie AF-60 from our Affinity Collection.

The whole idea of using brick is you don't have to ever paint it.

Unless you want to!

Just wanted to say that I was excited to see the color of the year- Guilford Green. My bedroom is painted a very similar shade, BM Sweet Caroline. Any tips on how to make it look modern and not too reminiscent of the early 2000s?

Try pairing with a darker shade of green on trim or other smaller surfaces, or even try painting a piece of furniture in the room to create an accent.  Monochromatic schemes are modern and up-to-date and a great way to decorate!

Do you have any type of paint that would allow me to "age" a red brick exterior wall, giving it a mottled look like you see on some older houses, especially in the South?

The effect is in the application.  To simulate the aged look you need layers--it won't happen in one coat.  For the topcoat, use a tinted glaze or thinned white or off white paint.

Dorian Gray. A good color name.

Love it.  Changes as it ages.

I have light cream kitchen cabinets (with a "mocha" glaze ) and a travertine backsplash. I don't have much wall in the room. What would be a good brown or other color for some pop?

Consider Caponata AF-650, may be a bit deep but it is a great dramatic color that I think will pair well.  Good luck!

Great chat. Thanks so much.

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Carl Minchew
Carl Minchew is the Vice President of color innvoation and design for Benjamin Moore. Minchew manages color collections, systems, tools and merchandising, as well as the creative design studio, which provides creative services, including procurement of labels and merchandising.
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