Sonu Mathew
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Meet The Expert

Any designer will tell you that the easiest and most inexpensive way to transform a room is with paint and color. A few rolls of the paint brush can make a room feel cozier, cleaner, more dramatic, warmer, cooler, and happier.

If you’re interested in sprucing up your spaces, take a few tips from Sonu Mathew, the senior manager of architectural and design markets for Benjamin Moore Paints. As a researcher, Mathew works with Benjamin Moore’s North American Design Team to uncover the latest trends in color as well as emerging design movements. She blends many influences, from fashion and international travel to socioeconomic movements and technology, to shape her experience of design.

Here are her thoughts and suggestions on color trends for 2010.


Bright Green Family room
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

What's New in 2010

MyHomeIdeas: Last year we saw lots of cool blue-grays, soft yellows and muted greens. What is different about color in 2010? What motivates these new trends? 

Sonu Mathew: This year ushered in a new decade and a new beginning. At Benjamin Moore, we’ve interpreted this period of renewal by identifying 18 colors from our palette of more than 3,300 as the 2010 trend colors.

When it comes to trends, Green is definitely the “it” color.  Specifically, we’ve cited Benjamin Moore Cedar Green. It's a compelling hue, with a yellow tone contributing a vibrant pop when used alone, but creating a softer look when paired with neutrals.



Bright Green Family room
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Bold Bedroom Brushstrokes

MHI: Color can do so much to set the tone for our day-to-day lives. The tones on our bedroom walls are the first shades we see when we wake up, and the last colors we see before we drift off to dreamland. What do you suggest when it comes to brushstrokes in the boudoir? 

SM: Master bedrooms are often a neglected space when it comes to color and design.  A quick coat of paint can transform your bedroom from forgotten to unforgettable.  I prefer using deep, dramatic, and saturated colors in a bedroom that create a sense of rapture.  A few examples of colors I love are Spiced Pumpkin, Deep Ocean, Chelsea Gray, and Caponata.




Serene White Bathroom
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Jewel-Toned Bathrooms

MHI: We get questions all the time about what paint colors were used in the bathrooms in our Room Galleries. What do you recommend or forecast for bathroom walls? 

SM: There are two distinct approaches I take.  A powder room or guest bath can be treated like a jewel box when it comes to color.  Use sparkling colors like emerald, aqua, or onyx.  In a bathroom you use daily to dress and apply cosmetics, use more neutral colors that act as a backdrop.


Brown Rustic Kitchen
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Coordinated Kitchen Colors

MHI: Color in the kitchen can be tricky. What solutions do you recommend for this all-important space? 

SM: A kitchen has become a gathering space and durable finishes as well as a beautiful room have become a must! To really focus in on the way color works in a kitchen, we’ve partnered with Cambria, a company that creates gorgeous countertops, to create complete design stories. We’ve preselected some paint colors to coordinate with their countertop offering and even considered the color of your appliances and hardware in the process. Countertops and even floors are filled with color that you can amplify in a space through paint. Use a durable product like Aura Bath and Spa in wet areas to lock out moisture and lock in beautiful color.


Sea Green Kitchen
Tria Giovan, Coastal Living

Coordinated Kitchen Colors

SM: Finding the right balance of color in a kitchen can add more vitality to the space and create an inviting ambiance. Remember also that because many kitchens have a great deal of woodwork and relatively little wall space, you can be bold in your color use and not feel overwhelmed by that hue. If you’re considering a rust, a rooted green, or a chocolate brown, try a sample in the kitchen to see if it works for you.


Painted Dining Room Server with Hutch
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Breathe New Life Into Furniture

MHI: People often forget that paint doesn’t just go on walls. A simple can of paint can completely transform a piece of furniture, such as a dining table and chairs, or something as simple as a mirror frame. What do you like about changing up the color of these items? 

SM: Painting a piece of furniture gives it a new life. Simply taking an inexpensive cabinet and repainting it adds so much! It’s like shopping in your own home to recreate your environment. If you have a mismatched grouping of dining chairs, for example, try painting them all in the same color to unify them around a table. It’s a quick and fun way to create something personal.


Wooden Outdoor Deck
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

A Better Deck Stain

MHI: Spring is here, and summer is fast approaching. More and more folks are spending time on their patios, decks and porches. With so much natural color already present outdoors, what can a wood stain bring to outdoor spaces?

SM: Protecting your deck or patio is extremely important because you’ll be able to enjoy your time outdoors without worry of the wear on your wood. When it comes to color choice, Arborcoat offers the traditional choices of wood colors that accentuate your wood’s natural color and it also comes in some unique colors like Smoked Oyster, Vintage Wine, and Sea Gull Gray. Use your exterior to make as much a statement about you as you would your interior!


Laundry Room
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Liven Up Laundry Rooms

MHI: How do you feel about painting spaces and areas that houseguests rarely see, such as closets, the insides of drawers, shelves or laundry rooms? Is it a waste of time, energy and money? Or is it a special, personal touch? 

SM: Whether your guests see a utility room or not, it’s still a bustling part of your home. It’s time for us all to start adding durable, responsible paint and color that help us to enjoy everyday moments in our homes. Utility rooms, for example, are constantly used and passed through. Punch up the color on the walls to create a dramatic sense of fun and set the mood for your home.


Brown and Seafoam Living Room with Painted Ceilings
Tria Giovan

Reflect Upon Painted Ceilings

MHI: What spaces in a room often get looked over when painting? What can paint on these areas do for the overall look and feel of a room? Any examples?  

SM: Ceilings are often overlooked and can make a big difference in a room. Try painting your ceilings in a color with a hint of yellow or pink to add visual warmth. Lighting will reflect the color on the ceiling back into your space to create softness. If you’re looking to do something completely unexpected, try using a metallic or pearlescent tint glaze over a base coat of color on the ceiling. The surprise of color will be memorable and bring a smile every time. 


Yellow baby nursery with a painted pattern on the walls
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Personalize with Painted Patterns

MHI: Often people are afraid that painting their walls with mass-produced colors can make a room seem impersonal. What can someone do to make their space completely their own?

SM: Incorporating graphic treatments like stencils or faux finishes is a great way to personalize your walls. There are so many choices on the market, but you can even get creative and create your own. Use simple objects to create stencil shapes that you and your family can paint. Try using the mouth of a cup or glass to create a stencil pattern of balloons or circles; go natural by finding large broad leaves you can outline onto the wall to create a theme of nature; enlarge a favorite simple fabric pattern and use it as a guide to add a touch that coordinates with the rest of the room.


Benjamin Moore Color Capture iPhone App
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore


MHI: The Benjamin Moore iPhone app is really useful, not to mention totally cool. Explain a little more about its features. 

SM: Color Capture is such a great tool. You can take a photo of just about anything you see when you’re on the go and identify the closest Benjamin Moore color that defines a particular part of the photo. Once you find the color, touch “harmony” to find coordinating colors. A simple shake will get you there, too. Once you’re ready to paint, there’s a retailer locater feature so you always know where to go to pick up the paint!



White Bedroom with Bamboo Headboard
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Breathe Easier

MHI: Benjamin Moore’s Aura and Natura paint lines were truly innovative products for the paint industry in 2009. Are these products still at the forefront of the paint business? 

SM: Aura and Natura have both set us apart in the paint and color industry.  Aura with Color-Lock Technology, a proprietary technology that only Benjamin Moore has, was touted to be the most exciting invention in paint since latex was introduced in the mid-20th century.  Aura is a low-VOC paint that never takes more than two coats in any color, touches up beautifully, and offers the same incredible durability in any finish.  You finally have aesthetic freedom to use a matte finish in a wet area without worrying about moisture, mildew, and cleanability.  Many painters and designers agree that it’s the finest paint we’ve ever made.

Mom with Baby in White Kitchen
Annie Schlechter, Southern Living

Breathe Easier

SM: Natura is our greenest paint with zero VOCs.  Though many other national paint companies will offer zero-VOC paint, we’re the only ones who offer a fully zero-VOC paint in any color.  Where many others have a paint that’s zero VOCs, the colorants still contain VOCs.  The colorants we use in Natura have zero VOCs, creating a paint that is truly zero VOC and that can help us all breathe a little easier.


Bright Blue Dining Room
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Exchange With The Experts

MHI: What else does the company have in store for 2010? 

SM: In April we launched The Experts Exchange on our Facebook page. The Experts Exchange is a place where Benjamin Moore fans can interact directly with design experts, browse profiles and design portfolios, and ask for advice or tips. They can even share their decorating projects and challenges with others by uploading their images in the forum. To learn more form the experts visit




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