Q&A: Andrea Magno of Benjamin Moore on paint color trends for 2019

Andrea Magno
Jan 03, 2019

Andrea Magno is a Color & Design Expert for Benjamin Moore. She plays an important role in the development of color tools for consumers. She also participates in color and design research that leads to new directions in paint. Andrea began her career at Christie's Auction house in the European Furniture department and later worked at Ingrao, an architectural and design firm in New York, on high end residential projects. Ask her any paint questions you may have.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers, Marie Kondo or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating, design and decluttering questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and organizing. For more than 20 years, our Thursday Q&A has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share your own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small.

Good morning and welcome to the first web chat of 2019.  Our first guest is Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore's Color & Design Expert. Andrea helps to develop color and design tools and educational programs for both professionals and consumers. She began her career at Christie's Auction House in the European Furniture Department. She later worked at design firm Ingrao, Inc. in New York. As a Benjamin Moore color expert, she can help with almost every aspect of painting and choosing a paint color so send in your questions now.

Hi everyone! I'm excited to be here and happy to answer all of your color questions! 

What is the best type of paint to use in a bathroom?

Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa is an ideal product to use in a bathroom. It's formulated to stand up to humidity and moisture while maintaining a matte finish.

Hi, Thanks for doing this chat! I just purchased a home - new build, so it's a blank canvas to work from. I have lots of furniture and decor ideas, but am worried about the outcome looking a bit schizophrenic. I know I need a whole house color scheme before I paint, wallpaper, or pick furniture, but I don't know where to start. Any good resources or suggestions for how to find a color expert to help with the color scheme? (I don't think I need an interior designer to figure out the actual decor...at least not yet!) Thanks!

I suggest visiting your local retailer. They may a color consultant on staff who can help you or they may be able to recommend someone local who can assist in choosing colors. 

Hello, we are moving into a small townhouse after retiring. Two questions: one - what is the least expensive way to freshen a 10-year-old place? And two: living room paint color? I'd like a southwest tan/taupe that is neither too pink or too yellow. (More like light paper bag or coffee with milk). But the new place doesn't get a lot of sun, so not too dark. Suggestions? THANK YOU much!

Congratulations- enjoy retirement! Paint is one of the least expensive ways to update the look of your home. Here are a few options for a "coffee with milk" color: Kangaroo AF-145, Hush AF-95, Bar Harbor Beige 1032 and Bleeker Beige HC-80

I'm expecting my first baby this summer and am trying to decide on paint colors. We wanted to put up a chair rail and paint below the rail gray and above the rail green. The gray would be darker than the green, but there are so many options, it's hard to decide. Any suggestions?

Congratulations! One combination could be Kittery Point Green HC-119 with Fieldstone 1558 on the bottom. For a lighter option, look to Silver Sage 506 on the top and Gray Owl OC-52 on the bottom. As for the white trim, Chantilly Lace OC-65 is a good choice. 

We are nearing the end of a major renovation and expansion of our 1940 Cape Cod style house. I would like neutral paint colors but don’t know where to start. I don’t want white. All the floors are white oak stained a medium brown shade.

For a warm neutral that would work well, take a look at Natural Linen 966 or Edgecomb Gray HC-173. Both colors will work well with the flooring and are light and timeless so they will work well with different fabrics and furnishings. 

I am helping an older female with failing eye-sight and is not a morning person..... Bedroom faces east and has only one window... What colors should she use to brighten the room for afternoon???

Two restful and pretty bedroom options are Woodlawn Blue HC-147 or Palladian Blue HC-144 which has a bit more green to it. The colors are both light so they work well with the east facing window. 

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I am looking for the best selling interior paint colors for houses in northern Al. I'm trying to update my house for selling.

A few very popular colors to consider are Ballet White OC-9, Collingwood OC-28 and Sugar Cookie OC-93. This will give you a range of options from warm to cool so depending on your preference. 

I want to paint my home's "public areas" (living room, hall, dining room) a warm white, since they get no direct sunlight and tend to be gloomy. But there are so many choices! How can I find a warm white that doesn't have overtones of other warm colors like pink, orange or yellow, and that won't clash with my colorful artwork and accessories?

Cloud White OC-130, Cottons Balls OC-122 or Simply White OC-117 are warm whites but they won't take on too much of a pink or yellow undertone. Since there isn't a lot of natural light, be sure to sample the color so it reads they way you want it to before painting the entire space. 

I am doing a powder room where I want to do white (of some variation) above the trim and a darker color below. Any suggestions?

Pretty white options for a powder room are Pink Damask OC-72, White Blush OC-86, Acadia White OC-38, Silver Satin OC-26 or Cloud Cover OC-25. This is a mix of warm and cool whites depending on the look you are going for. 

Isn't there too much gray paint out there? I feel like its being overdone in many homes. What color is a nice neutral substitute for gray?

We have many neutrals that can substitute a gray, such as Manchester Tan HC-81, Natural Wicker OC-1, Maritime White OC-5 or Jute AF-80. These colors are neutral, work well in any room and are a nice alternative to gray.

What is your favorite off white color, Tofu, Putty, Oatmeal, Almond, Harvest Wheat or Buff? Thanks. Niles

I look to white options that have the slightest bit of gray so they work well with many other colors, such as Swiss Coffee OC-45 or White Heron OC-57 as it is a crisp white but does not read as a stark white. As for a warmer white, I like Cloud White OC-130 which may be along the lines of tofu! I like putty too, something close to Natural Cream OC-14. 

I always though I wanted a khaki color wall with white trim, but now that seems outdated. What would be the updated look to this?

A favorite Benjamin Moore color is Revere Pewter HC-172 which has a touch of gray to it, moving it just a step away from khaki to give an updated look. As for trim, another go-to color is White Dove OC-17. 

We are finally getting ready to tear up carpet and put down oak hardwood (stained honey) to match the rest of the house. What would work as somewhat neutral but also connect with an old cannonball oak post bed? Trying to stay more current in colors, but not have to buy a whole new bedroom set. Thanks

Here are some nice colors that will work with the floor color and will still work with the bed, Spring Thaw 1508, Night Mist 1569 or Canvas 267. 

Hi there. I'm thinking about painting my basement. It's currently a pale blue, but I think it's time to go to a nice simple white. Does your answer change regarding whites if it's in a basement with almost no natural light? Thanks!

Going with a crisp white is a nice way to go for a basement. Other answers his morning mentioned some really nice whites. A couple more options would be Mayonnaise OC-85 or Mountain Peak White OC-121. 

HI-- I am going to repaint my condo and would like for the minimal trim to blend into the walls. Likely will be using linen white or simply white. What finish do you recommend I use on walls and for the trim if I use the same color? And what color do you recommend for the ceiling to keep things as airy and minimal as possible? What about the interior doors? THANK YOU!!

I'd suggest using an eggshell finish on the walls and a semi-gloss finish on the trim. I think if you use Linen White  OC-146 on the walls and trim, you can use Simply White OC-117 on the ceiling to keep the look airy and light. Or it would be very pretty to use Simply White OC-117 on the ceiling, trim and walls. Again using eggshell and semi-gloss but look to our Ultra Flat Ceiling Paint. Simply White OC-117 would also be a good door color to carry through the entire condo because it is a slightly warm white that will work well with many other colors. 

We'll be doing the kitchen this year, which will include removing the wallpaper we put up years ago when we moved in. The appliances will be black, and the countertops will be some kind of white blend. The kitchen table also has a black top, and there's a black/gray rug under it. We have a chair rail, and the wall below it is currently painted to contrast with the wallpaper. Once that's gone, we'll obviously paint white, but I'd really like to paint the part below the chair rail some kind of gray. Is this a mistake?

I don't think it would be a mistake to paint the lower part of the wall a gray. Perhaps a light gray so that there isn't too much contrast with the white. Some pretty grays to consider are Cumulus Cloud 1550, Gray Owl OC-52 or Coventry Gray HC-169. 

In helping to update a bedroom....of a home still styled in the early 80's... How what base colors could I use to update the Bedroom without totally throwing off the feel/look of the rest of the house...they are nit interested in uodating the house...the couple did it already (80's) and feel that it is still fresh....there are no grey base tones anywhere...it is more of the honey biege with some blue-n-mauves...

Take a look at Quiet Moments 1563, Paris Rain 1501- these colors are a bit more on the cool side but would still work with the honer beige hues. Or take a look at Winter Wheat 232 as it is a warm off-white that will look fresh. 

Hi! I work at Community Forklift, the DC area's reuse warehouse (our nonprofit picks up donations of furniture, appliances, building materials, and architectural salvage. Then we offer the items to the public at low prices, and distribute free materials to neighbors in need and local organizations). For years, we've seen customers pick damaged old wood pieces out of our free section, and use creative paint treatments to give them new life. People love using pastels and chalk paint for a rustic look, of course. More recently, I've seen really bright or dramatic high-gloss colors too, and paint used to create wild patterns and multicolored designs. But... I've noticed something else recently! Retirees and down-sizers have begun donating great mid-century pieces. At the same time, younger customers are coming in looking for cool wood grains (so they're not so quick to grab a paint brush). This brings up two questions: 1) if you live in an old house with nice wood floors, and then you bring in lots of nifty mid-century wood furniture, how do you keep everything from getting too brown and dark? Or, in the case of my dining room - from feeling too orange! Do you think choosing trendy dark walls will hurt or help? 2) Mid-century (and art deco) pieces are popular in urban homes because they offer clean lines and a smaller scale. However, these vintage pieces often have veneer that has chipped over the years. How does one find tradespeople who can fix veneer and bring back the gorgeous grain? Any local recommendations? Should I just start a side business myself because of the rising demand? :D Thanks so much! Ruthie Mundell

If you want to show off the mid-century wood furniture, I think using a lighter color or off-white will help showcase the pieces. If the walls are too dark, the furniture may not stand out as much as you want it to. For example, Dove Wing OC-18 or Timid White OC-39 would work well against the wood tones and will look modern while avoiding anything that looks too orange. 

Thank you for the excellent questions! I really enjoyed sharing some favorite Benjamin Moore colors with all of you. 

Thanks Andrea. More love for my favorite Palladian Blue! You gave lots of good choices for anyone who is tired of gray... and lots of other savvy advice. Next week's chat guest: We'll be getting an insider's look at entertaining at the White House from William Allman, former White House Curator. Bill is giving one of the featured lectures at the Washington Winter Show, the annual antiques show held Jan 11-13 at the Katzen Arts Center at American University. Until then...

We want to update our bright main foyer and adjoining dark hall with a trendy color and not just neutrals

If there is bright light in the entry, it would be on trend to use a deeper color such as Hale Navy HC-154. However, if you want to use one color in the entry and the hallway, Smoke 2122-40 is a soft pale blue that is part of our 2019 Color Trends palette. 

We are preparing our house to go on the market this spring. Our real estate agent says to paint every room in Balboa Mist with white woodwork. We also want to paint our dated looking brown wood kitchen cabinets. I want a deeper but still neural color, maybe a greige that will blend with our grey and brown/rust flecked counters. Can you recommend some options for the cabinets that will look good with Balboa Mist?

Take a look at Pashmina AF-100 or Thunder AF-685. Both colors are very current and work well for cabinets. This would certainly help to update the kitchen and works well with Balboa Mist OC-27, another great color choice!  

Hello, our family has expanded to the point where we're finishing the basement as a place for the kids to play and a space as a home office for the adults. It's a walkout basement, but the door faces the north, so not a lot of natural light, especially in the winter. What are some good neutral/whites to choose from to help the space from feeling like a cave?

Throughout the chat, there were several nice white colors called out, some of those may work well for you. For some additional off-white options that would be pretty and would not make the area feel like a cave, take a look at November Rain OC-50 or Moonshine OC-56. 

Looking to build a new small home in 2019. Always loved design and new looks. problem: I HATE vehemently everything I m seeing. Stark lines, harsh high contrast colour schemes, auditorium layouts. All of it. Love colours and warm palettes, cosy and warm. The 70s were my heyday and preferred looks. early 90s after that. Any advice?

Stay true to the design aesthetic that appeals to you most! If you are building a new home, collect images even if they are older but have architectural elements that can be brought into new construction so you avoid an auditorium feel and achieve the cozy look you are going for. I've seen new homes built in a mid-century style, for instance to reflect the tastes of the homeowner. Good luck!

I'm about to renovate 2 bathrooms and would like advice on paint color. Bathroom 1 is simple with no windows, dark gray floor tile, light gray vanity, white toilet, tub, sink and white subway tile. Bathroom 2 has a window, and will have a blue vanity, white carrera marble look tile on floor and shower with glass doors. Also, is brushed nickel still okay to use or is that trending out and should i use chrome? Thank you.

For bathroom 1, I suggest using a lighter color on the walls due to the lack of natural light. Since you already have a dark gray floor, take a look at Horizon OC-53 or Titanium OC-49 as each color will work well with the existing tile and fixtures. For bathroom 2, a lighter blue for the walls that compliments the blue used on the vanity would be pretty.

In This Chat
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 and organizing.

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Andrea Magno
Andrea Magno is a color and design expert for Benjamin Moore, the North American paint, color and coatings brand.
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