The woman who creates the paint colours we all know and love talks to us about life in her Somerset home, and how it inspires her
WALL PAINTED IN FARROW & BALL PEIGNOIR ESTATE EMULSION. IMAGE: FARROW & BALL
Where do you live and why?
For most of the time, I live with my husband and children in the rural idle of Somerset in a very small old school house which was the inspiration for Farrow & Ball’s School House White. We are surrounded by cows, sheep and rolling hills which are the perfect antidote to London life and provide fantastic inspiration for creating new colours, especially now when everyone wants to feel closer to nature. This house has often been compared to the one used in the film The Holiday so is obviously super cosy at Christmas!
What’s the first thing you did to your home when you moved in?
Paint it, of course! Firstly, I made School House White for the two large main rooms, while the smaller rooms have been transformed into little jewel boxes of rich tones which not only satisfy my insatiable appetite for colour but also make the most of the character of each individual space. The bedrooms are little softer – with its doors opening straight onto the garden, the master bedroom begged to be painted in a restful green-based French Gray, making the connection between the interior and exterior practically seamless. Similarly, the second bedroom, with windows on three sides, was only ever going to feel right painted in Light Blue. This colour’s magical qualities mean that, like French Gray, it appears to change according to the different intensity of light at various times of the day. It is positively blue in strong morning light and then becomes greyer as the evening progresses. Perfect for a bedroom.
JOA PAINTED THE MASTER BEDROOM OF HER SOMERSET HOME IN FARROW & BALL’S RESTFUL FRENCH GRAY. IMAGE: JAMES MERRELL, FROM ‘FARROW & BALL: RECIPES FOR DECORATING’ BY JOA STUDHOLME
( LEFT) JOA’S HOME INSPIRED HER TO CREATE FARROW & BALL’S SCHOOL HOUSE WHITE PAINT. SHE USED NANCY’S BLUSHES ON THE LOW WALL, WITH RAILINGS ON THE DOOR AND BOOKCASE. (RIGHT) JOA’S KITCHEN UNITS ARE PAINTED IN STUDIO GREEN WITH BABOUCHE ON THE WINDOW RECESS. IMAGES: JAMES MERRELL, FROM ‘FARROW & BALL: RECIPES FOR DECORATING’ BY JOA STUDHOLME
Describe your front door…
The exterior woodwork of the house, including the front door, is painted in soft Black Blue to reflect the colour of the cows in the surrounding fields. This colour is the perfect backdrop to a much loved old laser cut wreath which I paint a different colour every year – in 2019 I am going for amazing Dutch Orange from our new Colour by Nature range. On entering the house, one is greeted by rich green Bancha on the entrance hall walls, which echoes the hues of the lush garden. This strong-coloured space exudes drama, which makes the living room leading off it feel large and light in comparison.
If the objects in your home could talk, which would have the best stories to tell?
I guess it would have to be the kitchen table which we bought from a famous bon viveur when we first got married over 30 years ago. Many happy hours were spent around it in London where it gained a bespoke metal top and had white painted legs. It then got demoted to the garden when a superior design arrived from Merci in Paris. However, eight years later it is back in our kitchen in Somerset with a delightfully scrubbed pine top and its legs painted in Scotch Blue. I very much hope that one of my children will have it in their home in years to come!
JOA AT HOME IN SOMERSET. IMAGE: FARROW & BALL
Where will you be spending Christmas this year?
Hopefully, we will be able to spend the majority of the holiday having long lazy days in front of the fire in Somerset, but on actual Christmas day we will be back in London because it is easier to get to for my extended family. Oh the joy of having an excuse to decorate two houses for Christmas!
What traditions do you and your family enjoy at home each Christmas?
Ever since we got married, my husband and I have collected nativity scenes. We now are the proud owners of over 50 gathered not only by us, but by kind friends from all over the world. They range from a tiny favourite made of salt from Bolivia, through exquisite examples in glass domes, to a Barbie and Ken tableau made by my children. They appear all over the house and are our main decorations at Christmas.
IMAGES: (LEFT) WALL PAINTED IN FARROW & BALL STIFFKEY BLUE MODERN EMULSION; (RIGHT) WALLS PAINTED IN FARROW & BALL GREAT WHITE ESTATE EMULSION WITH CHURLISH GREEN ESTATE EGGSHELL ON THE DOOR FRAME
What have been some of your most memorable Christmases?
It would be tempting to talk about Christmases spent away from home: on a train crossing India with my children, or on the beach in Sri Lanka with a huge blow up Father Christmas, but I think the most memorable was at home when we suddenly realised we had people from six different religions around one table all happily celebrating the good things in life together.
What was your childhood home like?
I grew up in a home that, to be honest, was somewhat lacking in design and certainly devoid of much colour. It was, however, an extremely happy home and I had an idyllic childhood, much of which I spent rearranging my set of Caran d’Ache crayons to see how different colour combinations worked.
THIS BOLD HALLWAY PAINTED IN FARROW & BALL’S VIBRANT RECTORY RED MODERN EMULSION WITH TRIM IN ESTATE EGGSHELL MAKES FOR A FABULOUSLY FESTIVE ENTRANCE. IMAGE: FARROW & BALL
Which room in your home makes you happiest?
Strangely, I think it has to be the smallest room in the house. I have always yearned for a grown-up pantry and this little space off the kitchen was one of the reasons for buying this house, but it has somehow – much against my will – been turned into a bar! The reason it makes me happy is because it is now painted in upbeat Lake Red which cannot fail to make you smile. In order not to draw attention to its small size, one colour has been used on every surface – walls, ceiling and trim – which means you cannot read the confines of the room, while also creating a great big dose of drama. The introduction of a stable door to the kitchen adds extra excitement, allowing a tantalising glimpse of this irresistible colour from the adjacent rooms.
What makes your house a home?
Family, friends and Farrow & Ball colours!
Farrow & Ball: Recipes for Decorating by Joa Studholme, £30, Octopus Books. Photography by James Merrell
See more of Joa’s beautiful Somerset home here.