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Q&A: Warehouse Home’s Sophie Bush on creating a warehouse-friendly paint range

She’s already launched a magazine and a book for warehouse dwellers; now, Warehouse Home’s founder has created a colour palette that reflects Britain’s industrial heritage.

Warehouse living has helped transform our urban environment over the last two decades. Transforming warehouses from within, however, hasn’t always been easy. Converted loft apartments often come with exposed brickwork, steel beams and galvanised piping – and such features aren’t straightforward to paint.

But that looks set to change in June 2018 with the launch of a new paint range. The Warehouse Home Paint Collection, which will be available in the UK and US, features 30 colours that evoke the atmosphere of traditional warehouses – and all that they contained.

Sophie Bush, Warehouse Home’s founder and director, told us more about the new colour palette, why it won’t feature any “kooky” names, and how it can even be used in listed buildings where painting isn’t allowed.

So Sophie, why did you decide to create a paint range?

“There are a couple of reasons behind it. The first is that I’ve always been excited by the possibility of a paint range. I think colour is really evocative – it brings to mind lots of special memories and can completely transform a space, and this is especially true of warehouses and old industrial buildings.

“When I launched Warehouse Home I heard that the first residents of Shad Thames, down by Tower Bridge, could still smell spices in their homes. I thought this was such a powerful image – that the spices’ aromas had become firmly embedded into the fabric of the building.

“That image has always stayed with me. I think smell is very evocative, and I think that’s true of colour as well.

“We’ve also been growing the Warehouse Home brand – in addition to publishing the magazine we publish books and have an interior design service. We do anything from sourcing individual vintage pieces to doing show homes for property developers.

“So a paint range of our own was a natural next step. Warehouse conversions have lots of features that other properties don’t – exposed brickwork, raw plaster, raw concrete, beams, columns, galvanised piping – so they need a special colour palette.

“That said, many of our readers don’t live in a warehouse at all – they just like elements of the industrial aesthetic. So we wanted to ensure that our scheme of colours can be used in any property.”

How does one go about creating a paint range, especially one suited to converted warehouses?

“We were initially inspired by the products created and stored in these old buildings, like cotton, paper, tea and spices. You’ll see them in the colours we’ve selected, and indeed these are the types of words we’ve used to describe our 30 colours.

“In terms of the technicalities, we went to the best in the business. Master Paintmakers are renowned for the quality of their paint. They make paint for the likes of the V&A and Paint by Conran, and they lead the way in creating industrial-strength paints.

“Their paints tick the boxes in terms of pigmentation quality. Because they’re not diluted they can be applied to lots of different surfaces. They’re eco-friendly and sustainable too, which is really important.

“It’s important to note that in quite a few warehouse conversions, like the one I live in, you can’t paint the exposed brickwork because the buildings are listed. So we wanted to ensure that our colour palette fits alongside such features as well as on top of them.”

Was it a deliberate decision to have just 30 colours?

“Yes, very much so – a focus on quality rather than quantity was very much the consideration. Everything we do at Warehouse Home is beautifully considered and beautifully crafted – and we wanted to make sure that the paint range reflected what we do in that respect.

“The colours will be complemented by tips and guidelines on how to use the paint and – as you’d expect from Warehouse Home – some really beautiful imagery that we’ll style and shoot ourselves.

“That’s not to say that we won’t release further ranges down the line, but we’d like to see how our audience responds to this initial collection first.”

Have you come up with a range of names as well?

“We have. It’s still in progress, but by the end of October we’ll probably have the full collection of names ready.

“For us it’s not just about sitting around and coming up with kooky names – it’s about making sure there’s a meaningful relationship between the colour’s name and the colour itself, its application and the heritage of the buildings. There’s a really nice narrative behind the whole collection and behind each colour.