The everyday experiences of a young family taking on full home renovation

Decorating and interiors, DIY

Colour in the Home with Farrow & Ball’s Joa Studholme

Yesterday evening I booked on to a event at Brighton Pavilion – a fantastic venue – titled ‘Colour in the Home’ – hosted by Farrow & Ball’s International Colour Consultant Joa Studholme.

It was perfect timing as we’ve been busy rollering mist coats of white paint all over the freshly plastered walls in the house. There was talk of slapping on white topcoat everywhere and worrying about colour later, although thankfully, after last night, that’s all changed.

Not only did I get a lovely goody bag, I made loads of notes and had several hallelujah moments (mostly when I realised all the things I’d been getting wrong and how Joa’s way made perfect sense). That woman is a wonderful, inspiring fountain of decor knowledge and I was totally enthralled by her every word!

It’s only right that I impart some of my new found wisdom, so here I’ve listed my secondhand 12 top decorating tips (firsthand courtesy of Joa):

  1. Always start decorating with the hallway first. It’s the backbone of the house. It’s also often one of the darkest areas of the house so go for lighter colours on the walls and a darker trim. A light/medium grey works really well and will make ceilings feel higher.HallwayFB
  1. Add in dark accents of colour with the paler neutrals, it will make it feel more ‘designed’. In the hallway the best place is on the bannister and/or spindles, as they’re away from eye level and everything around them will feel a lot lighter and brighter, creating the illusion of a larger space.SONY DSC
  1. In other rooms, you can bring in darker accents of colour in smaller areas such the back of a dresser or between shelves. If you use the same colour as you have in the hallway, it will really help to tie together the colour scheme of your house by making different areas feel more connected.bookcase-inside-painted-green
  1. Don’t feel you have to match skirting boards to doors and architraves. If you can, mix it up. Likewise your doors don’t have to be the same colour on both sides.Color-door-Entry
  1. If things are right with your decor, you won’t notice them. It should be subtle and blend effortlessly.childrens-room-5
  1. Paint your front door and frame in the same colour to make it feel bigger and grander. It’s one of the easiest ways to create ‘pavement appeal’ – a great tip if you’re selling your home as first impressions count.grandfrontdoor
  1. If you want a neutral house, use darker colours and big patterns in small areas. The dining room, downstairs loo or guest bedroom are the best places to start experimenting.bigpatternsmallroom
  1. Light is really important when it comes to decorating. Buy sample pots and paint onto wallpaper. Pin it up on the walls at different times of day to see how the light changes the colour.PAINT-SAMPLES
  1. Don’t use brilliant white on the ceiling if you’re using colour on the walls. The contrast will actually make the ceiling feel lower. Go for a complimentary off white or paler shade of the wall colour.hownottodoit
  1. If you’re decorating on a budget (like me), add 40% white to your wall colour to get your ceiling colour. If you’ve got cash to splash, Farrow & Ball pre-made colours have done all the hard work for you.FarrowBall+Down+pipe
  1. There’s strength and calm about a room painted all in one colour. It also makes the room feel much bigger and covers a multitude of sins! Go for matt on the walls and contemporary eggshell on the woodwork for maximum blending (and because anything being touched will need to be painted in something more durable).
  1. Don’t fight nature. If you have a dark space, paint it in a strong colour. If you have a very bright space, go for lighter colours.brightspacelightcolourdarkspacestrongcolour

Once Joa had imparted all this brilliant advice she caught me papping her mood boards and asked if I needed any help. I took the opportunity to ask her about our dining room. If you read one of my first posts Colour Me In, you’ll know I’ve long been dreaming of painting it a strong blue/green (in Farrow & Ball terms, either Stiffkey Blue or Hague Blue). I told her we’d mainly be using the room in the evenings, it doesn’t get much natural light and we’re going for a low hanging, multiple-bulb pendant light over the dining table.

My question was whether or not it was a good idea to go for such a strong, dark colour and if I should go for the 40% rule on the ceiling, or go for the same colour all over. Without hesitation she said go for all one colour, walls, wood work and ceiling, but that I should paint the ceiling in gloss to reflect the light back down into the room. Amazing. It’s bold and I’m a bit scared, but I’m going to go for it and I’m sure it will be brilliant. I just hope when we redecorate it’s not me on ceiling duty!


So if you are redecorating any time soon, I’d highly recommend going along to one of Joa’s talks. After Googling her I found out her colour consultancy hourly fee is £250, so for £11.50 for an hour long talk and some personalised advice it’s well worth it.

For more information visit or drop into one of their showrooms. My nearest branch is on Western Road in Hove, which has a colour consultant who does home visits. The paints are also stocked in Homebase.



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