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At Food52, we take great care in how we decorate our space. That's why we partnered with Farrow & Ball, renowned British makers of paints and wallpapers, to choose colors for our new office annex.
There are a handful of factors that must be considered when you're painting the walls in any space. How much light the room gets, the mood you want to set, whether your want to go bold or subdued. At the Food52 office, there's something else we needed to think about: photography.
Since our office also serves as our photo studio, art director Alexis Anthony was deeply involved in the selection process. "For us in the studio, wall colors are important to consider so that there aren’t weird reflections in the photographs," she explains. "For example, we wouldn’t have a bright red wall because the reflection could end up coloring the photo." Ok, so no red. So then, what works?
"Food52 photography leans towards bluer tones," Alexis says. "So we wanted walls that would support those colors. We looked for paints that were mostly white but had warmer brown hues, too."
Designer Brad Sherman—who, along with his partner Nina Etnier, did a full renovation of the Food52 offices last year—fully understands the challenges of designing a space that needs to serve many purposes, from functioning kitchen to photo studio to dinner party backdrop to actual office. He balanced the photo studio's needs with the factors he always considers, which are mood and durability.
When it came time to choose, Brad turned to Farrow & Ball, a company as famous for its gorgeous array of high-opacity colors as it is for its paint names (Cabbage White! Dead Salmon! Elephant's Breath!). The goal was a timeless color that would interplay well with the light in the room—both natural light and studio lights—with a finish that's durable enough for a kitchen. To find the right shades, Brad pulled out all the stops—and all the swatches. "For Food52's new space, we made about 50 sample boards," he says. "Generally we do four to six, but to get just the right tone we played around with layering paints to create a lime wash-looking finish."
The final selection came down to four different paints: We went with Skimming Stone, a warm light gray tone, for the ceilings in the main space and the kitchen, and the same color with a faux lime wash decorative application of Pavilion Gray, a cooler mid-gray, for the walls in the main space and storage area. Smoked Trout, a brownish-gray that Farrow & Ball describes as a "warm mushroom" color, was the selection for the ceilings in the entry vestibule and editing suite (we got an editing suite!). For the entry vestibule and editing suite walls, the choice was Smoked Trout with a faux lime wash decorative application of Setting Plaster, a dusty pink tone.
Thinking about doing some painting yourself? We asked Brad to recommend his best colors for homes that don’t get much natural light (ahem, classic urban apartments). "There are two ways to go on this," he says. "If there are other rooms in your home that get light, I love a dramatic moment. Play up the lack of light and paint the room dark." Some of his current favorites include Green Smoke, a smoky blue-green; Hague Blue, a deep, dark blue with green undertones; Off-Black, which is just what it sounds like; and Book Room Red, a muddy terracotta tone.
If you want to skip the drama, Brad has one word: pink. "While most people don’t think of pink as neutral, it is," he says. "It pairs well with just about any color. We incorporated two of my favorite Farrow & Ball pinks in the new Food52 space: Setting Plaster and Smoked Trout. And on the lighter side, I'd suggest Dimity, a very pale taupe that's almost white."
We painted our new office annex with help from British paintmakers Farrow & Ball. The brand is as choosey with their ingredients as we are with ours—which means eco-friendly, durable, richly pigmented paints made to last. If you like the look of our new annex, you can get the same effect in your own space by using the colors we recommend above!