In this extract from Farrow & Ball: Recipes for Decorating, Colour Consultant Joa Studholme reveals why her design scheme for this period home defies the conventional rules of colour
Whether it’s dark and dramatic Downpipe, warm neutral Elephant’s Breath, or serene pink Dead Salmon, the names on Farrow & Ball‘s colour card have become as much a talking point as the highly desirable, richly pigmented shades themselves. Joa Studholme, the brand’s original Colour Consultant has been in the role for 20 years and chooses colours for more than 4,500 rooms a year; what she doesn’t know about colour and creating an expertly paired palette, isn’t worth knowing. In this extract, Joa talks us through one of her projects; the Old Schoolhouse…
(LEFT) INCORPORATING THE DOOR INTO THE BOOKCASE WALL INCREASES THE OVERALL DRAMATIC EFFECT (RIGHT) THE BOOKCASE TUCKED UNDER THE GALLERY HAS BEEN PAINTED IN RAILINGS SO AS NOT TO FIGHT THE LACK OF LIGHT AT THIS DARKER END OF THE ROOM. IMAGES: JAMES MERRELL
It was originally painted throughout in an unstimulating white (albeit fitting for a schoolhouse), but now the smaller rooms have been transformed into little jewel boxes of colour, which not only satisfy the owner’s – my – insatiable appetite for colour, but also make the most of each individual space.
The entrance to the living room sits beneath the gallery and has also been kept dark to continue the sense of intrigue. Railings, a softer alternative to black, has been taken over the door and bookcase. It contrasts with the rest of the walls and ceiling, which are painted in a soft white akin to their original colour – appropriately, School House White. This emphasises the size and light of the room and also retains the spirit of the building.
A low wall around the seating area surprises in Nancy’s Blushes (named after my daughter’s rosy cheeks when she was a child). This helps achieve a quirky and snug atmosphere, which can be difficult in a large, open-plan space.
(LEFT) THE SCHOOL ROOM FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN IS NOW A KITCHEN, WITH THE UNITS PAINTED IN STUDIO GREEN TO FIT THE RUSTIC SETTING (RIGHT) HEGEMONE WALLPAPER ON THE INTERIOR OF THIS DRESSER MAKES IT FEEL LESS FORMAL AND ADDS A WHIMSICAL TOUCH. IMAGES: JAMES MERRELL
The kitchen, once the school room for the younger children, has also been painted in School House White, but the window recess has this time been picked out in unexpected Babouche, to reflect the colour of the forsythia hedge outside. This simple use of colour creates a happy glow in the kitchen, even on the gloomiest of days.
The corridor to the bedrooms is a dark, compromised space but it has been transformed with Inchyra Blue on the lower part of the walls and doors, and School House White on the top half of the walls and the ceiling, which makes the space open out and feel wider.
Using School House White here as well as in the kitchen and living room creates a link between the recently built bedroom extension and the main part of the house.
(LEFT) FRENCH GRAY HAS BEEN USED ON EVERY SURFACE, TO AVOID CREATING A BARRIER BETWEEN INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR (RIGHT) SETTING PLASTER HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER THE CEILING, TO DISGUISE THE LOW HEIGHT, AND OVER THE WOODWORK, TO CREATE THE ULTIMATE CALM SPACE. IMAGES: JAMES MERRELL
With its doors opening straight onto the garden, the master bedroom begged to be painted in a restful green, making the connection between the interior and exterior practically seamless. French Gray looks enchanting and is the perfect shade here.
The features of the smallest and most intimate third bedroom have been embraced by cocooning it in delicate Setting Plaster, which makes it feel soothing, as if it is giving you a hug.
There is a tendency to think that only big, light-filled rooms are able to “take” strong colours, and that small, dark rooms should be restricted to light shades. This house demonstrates perfectly that this is not necessarily the case. The large rooms, in which the most time is spent, are kept light and airy, while the smaller bedrooms have been enriched with colour and embrace you in their walls. It is a recipe for happy living.
Farrow & Ball: Recipes for Decorating by Joa Studholme, £30, www.octopusbooks.co.uk Photography by James Merrell
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