What makes a purchase “worth it”? The answer is different for everybody, so we’re asking some of the coolest, most shopping-savvy people we know—from small-business owners to designers, artists, and actors—to tell us the story behind one of their most prized possessions.
When Natalie Ebel cofounded Backdrop with her husband Caleb in 2018, she was simply looking for an easy way to paint her daughter’s nursery. “I wanted a pure white, which should have been a very easy project, but it wasn’t,” she recalls. “Paint is the most powerful design purchase, but it did not cater to the DIY customer in a way that was really consumer-friendly.”
Natalie grew up with painting. It was her hobby as a child, and her dad also painted homes on the side. For her, it was always exciting to see the way a few brushstrokes of a new hue could transform and refresh a space in an affordable way. When creating Backdrop, Natalie and Caleb wanted to make this transformation more accessible to consumers. The need for it became even more apparent when they moved next to a hardware store.
“Repainting is the easiest design change to make, but before Backdrop, you would go to the store four times, look at 300 whites, and still wouldn’t know what you were looking at,” she says. “Living next to this hardware store, we’d see people in front of a color wall for hours. We’’d go to lunch, come back, and they’d still be there. We realized that the industry was catering to contractors, not consumers.”
As a company, Backdrop aims to make painting fun—allowing customers to sample colors with 12×12″ adhesive swatches that you can move from wall to wall, giving a true sense of what the color would look like in the space. Customers also love the thousands of pieces of user-generated content in the website’s gallery, which helps provide inspiration by showcasing Backdrop’s colors in the homes of its customers. “Showing the paint in all of its forms, and then also showing it in real spaces so you can really see what it’s like, was really important to me when building this brand,” Natalie says.
What and when?
In 2019, Natalie and her family moved from New York to Los Angeles. At the time, they were getting settled into their new space, an old Spanish colonial-style home in Silver Lake, and just beginning to design each room. Natalie had decided on Supermoon (Backdrop’s pure white color) for the walls in the house, and Dark Arts (their pure black hue) for the trim in the kitchen and throughout the house. While browsing Architectural Digest for inspiration, she came across a feature on Charlap Hyman & Herrero, and fell in love with their Caiman rug. “I love rugs, but I’d never seen rugs as an art form, something that felt like a true piece of art. Their whole collection is just so striking and graphic,” Natalie says. “I like to call [mine] ‘the angry crocodile.’ It is definitely art and a real conversation piece.”