The Inspiration and Process of Creating an Art Wall Using CENTURY
In late July I was approached by CENTURY to host their LA launch party in our space, and I set on a mission to create an art wall. First, a little bit about CENTURY, Benjamin Moore’s newest collection of small batch, pre-mixed interior paint with a Soft Touch Matte finish and unprecedented depth of color. Unlike other matte paints which feel somewhat dry and chalky to the touch, CENTURY feels like a soft, worn leather glove, allowing your fingers to gently glide across the surface.
The CENTURY Color Palette
When I was first approached by Benjamin Moore to host a party in our Old Pasadena space to launch CENTURY, I thought about how best to incorporate the color into our space. I thought about painting one wall one color, and another wall another, but I couldn’t decide which colors to choose.
With a palette of 75 colors, there were so many beautiful colors and I could have easily used every single one. Ray, my husband and business partner looked at me staring into space with that look that I often get when I am deep in thought. He rolled his eyes and said, “Ok, what’s up – I know that look. What are you thinking?” I told him that there were so many colors I wanted to use and I wish I could use several colors and not just one. He nonchalantly said “If you want to use more than one, do it – why don’t you do some color blocking” Yes, sometimes my better half thinks of the obvious that I sometimes overlook. And that’s when it hit me. Yes, why don’t I? No one said I couldn’t. I think I was expected to paint a wall a solid color and put a pretty vignette in front, but as anyone who knows me knows I never do things the way they’re supposed to be done! I set on a mission to create an art wall with a play on color.
One color I knew I had to use was U9 – Blue Muscari, which is unlike any other blue I have ever seen. Deep, rich, heavily pigmented, with a hint of teal, it blends in perfectly with many of the mid-century modern spaces I design and looks even richer when paired with bronze, my current go-to metal finish.
The next step was to figure out how to color block and what immediately came to mind was De Stilj, the artist movement formed in 1917 by Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian.
I toyed with pairing Blue Muscari with some Amethyst and other blue tones but I chose to select colors from all over the palette for the biggest impact. These are the color that I ultimately decided on:
- V2 – Persian Red
- O7 – Privet
- U9 – Blue Muscari
- P3 – Larimar
- Z5 – Darjeeling
Before we set out to change our front wall at the entrance of the store, it was wallpapered in this beautiful Kelly Wearstler metallic gold wallpaper which I put up at the entrance of our store when we opened our doors last year.
To the drawing board I went and came up with this sketch to create the art wall. I called my superstar painter, Rob and then my decorative painter, Linda and then put the plan into action.
To save time and keep the cost down, I stayed late one night, popped open a bottle of wine, and went to town removing the wallpaper with Ray (AKA the world’s most patient man). Because really – removing wallpaper is not a fun or easy task, especially when you are “googling” how to do it along the way. It took a while, but we got it done and ready for Rob to paint the next day.
Rob came and started to paint, one color at a time. The paint had amazing coverage – especially since we were painting over white and it isn’t easy to fully cover white in one coat. As Muscari Blue was applied to the wall, the color appeared very vibrant – almost fluorescent when wet, but as it dried, it settled into the richest, Prussian-like blue. Although one coat looked pretty good, he went back and painted
Although one coat looked pretty good, he went back and painted a second coat to make sure everything was adequately covered. The base coat was done in Darjeeling, and once that was dried, I gave Rob the measurements and it was his turn to go to town drawing in all his straight lines.
Rob carefully brushed the outline of each square by hand and used his “weenie roller” to roll everything out, coming as close to the brushed edge as possible. I had already engineered the entire process in my head, so even though he was very meticulous about his straight lines, I knew that any waviness or inconsistencies would be covered by the gold leaf so I wasn’t half as worried as he was.
One by one, each color went up until all the squares were in place.
The next day, the decorative painters came to apply the gold leaf. I discovered that when applying gold leaf, great care must be made when masking the area so that there is no overflow of spray adhesive or drips of sizing, especially when applying onto a matte surface, which cannot be scrubbed clean. In most cases, it is not a problem, but when pairing up with a high-end paint like CENTURY, great care must be taken to make sure each surface is properly covered.
Since creating the art wall was a project showing off CENTURY paint, both Rob and I felt that the paint had to be perfect, so he came back and put on yet another coat so that everything was PERFECT. Bless his heart – he is more anal retentive than I, if that is possible.
The Finished Product
One interesting observation I noticed along the way, is the effect that light has on the color of the paint. Paint professionals always say that you should paint color on the wall to see the actual color, as lighting and direction the room it is facing can affect the color, so it will never appear on the wall the way it does on the swatch. I always do that like clockwork, but being able to see the difference in color right before my eyes is fascinating.
Because each color was isolated, being blocked off by gold leaf, the color difference was even more evident. What appeared to be a vibrant aqua in one area looked like slate in another area. Privet appeared as a golden yellow towards the top of the wall, and a greener tone of chartreuse towards the bottom of the wall.
In addition, Rob and I argued back and forth the entire day. While he thought the base color was brown, I felt like it was more grey. In honesty, the color changes depending on what other colors are next to it. So, lesson learned is that next time you have to choose a paint color, test it not just on one wall, but all walls. Don’t trust the swatch alone.
The CENTURY LA Launch Party
We had a full house for the party, with close to 100 designers, specifiers, and industry partners in attendance. Everyone marveled at the color palette, and while at first everyone was hesitant to touch the walls, when they did they were impressed at how soft the paint felt.
After a short presentation on CENTURY and the process behind how we created the art wall, Kim Kuhteubl of Me by Design spoke to the crowd on Branding + Interior Design to a captivating audience, and the crowd departed with an understanding and appreciation for CENTURY as well as new tips from Kim on how interior designers can increase their visibility.
To see (and feel) our art wall, stop by the showroom while it is still up. CENTURY is sold at independently owned authorized stores. To see if your local Benjamin Moore retailer carries CENTURY, you can check the store locator.
Paint only was received from CENTURY to paint a wall for the event. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions and observations are my own.