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At Home with Joa Studholme

We recently sat down with the amazing Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball’s International Colour Consultant, who shared a glimpse into the decor of her own home, her interior design secrets and even tips on how to style some of our own pieces…

Joa, we’d love to hear about the colours you use in your own home. Do you have a favourite or regularly redecorate?

I sometimes worry that the interior of my house is getting smaller and smaller due to the layers of paint!  I can rarely resist an opportunity to redecorate – there is always something being changed, even if it just the colour behind a shelf or my kitchen island (that is definitely getting bigger from the layers of paint!) and the whole house gets a makeover when our new Farrow & Ball colours come out. I have just painted four small bedrooms which all come off a large All White room in Light Blue, Setting Plaster, French Gray and Olive – they feel like little satellites of jewel-like colour.

Asking me if I have a favourite is like asking me if I have a favourite child, but at the moment my heart lies with Inchyra Blue – a really complex colour and a great alternative to the more often used greys.

Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue

Farrow & Ball French Gray

Farrow & Ball Light Blue

Two of our customers’ favourite sofa colours are Charcoal brushed linen cotton and Granite soft wool, what wall colour would you advise for anyone wanting to lift a dark colour like grey?

I would suggest using Oval Room Blue or Peignoir – both very traditional in feel but absolutely perfect in the 2017 contemporary home, where we are definitely embracing a bit more colour.  They both have an underlying grey so would sit perfectly with your Charcoal brushed linen cotton and Granite soft wool.

The Bluebell left hand chaise in Granite soft wool, £2,500

Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue

Farrow & Ball Peignoir

We love Farrow & Ball’s range of wallpaper. If you had to choose between the two which would you opt for, paint or paper?

Gosh – again too hard to call – I love to use them together.  I particularly like wallpapering small hidden spaces in otherwise painted rooms.  I often use flamboyant Ocelot wallpaper in drinks cupboards off plainer grey rooms, or stylish Enigma wallpaper in guest-room wardrobes.  The joy of the wallpapers is that they are made from the actual paints so you can find fantastic combinations with total ease.  I also favour using wallpapers on the ceiling of otherwise painted rooms – you may be wary of this idea but the results are amazing.  My particular favourites are Brockhampton Star (a classic metallic star) and Yukatori (flocks of flying birds).

Farrow & Ball Brockhampton Star

Farrow & Ball Yukatori

You must have been in hundreds of clients’ homes advising on colour, what is the most common decorating mistake you see that our readers should avoid?

I firmly believe that there are no rules in decorating, but the one thing I see most often is cornices or covings painted in the same colour as the ceiling which immediately brings the ceiling height down.  If you want your room to look as high as possible, then it is best to paint the same colour from the bottom of the skirting to the top of the cornice.

Gin & Tonic, Strawberries & Cream.  Is there such a thing as the perfect colour pairing and what’s your favourite?

We have worked hard to create our Neutral Groups of four colours – all of which sit perfectly together, so can be used with total confidence where you never need to worry that you might have the wrong combination – these can be found on our website or in any store.  However if you are talking about stronger colours, then I am usually drawn to pairings that come straight from nature. Brinjal and Churlish Green are an unusual combination but exactly the colours of a ripe aubergine.  Mizzle and Cromarty used together create an uncertain colour combination just like swirling mists of the sea.

Farrow & Ball Brinjal

Farrow & Ball Churlish Green

Farrow & Ball are renowned for their quirky paint names (Elephant’s Breath anyone?) Tell us more about how they are chosen, do you get involved?

We take inspiration for our names from many different sources – it is a job we take extremely seriously because we are more than aware that the psychology of colour names is powerful.  Having said that, India Yellow is named after the pigment collected from the urine of cows who have been fed on mango leaves!  Stiffkey Blue is so named because it is reminiscent of the colour of the mud on Stiffkey Beach in North Norfolk and Nancy’s Blushes is named after my daughter’s rosy cheeks when she was a little girl.  Elephant’s Breath… well everyone just has to keep guessing!

Farrow & Ball India Yellow

Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath

We know that you are a proud owner of our Florentine bed in Orchid pure cotton matt velvet, as well as our Florentine bed in Prussian Blue pure cotton matt velvet – what drew you to this particular design? We’d love to hear about the rooms they are in, how did you choose to style these pieces?

I indulgently bought these beautiful beds for my two children – and, cornily enough, the Prussian Blue for my son and the Orchid for my daughter.  I like this design because it is somewhat understated but has a wonderful soft line.  But most importantly it feels timeless. It’s fascinating to see how different they look depending on the colour.  The blue stands strong and proud against a Lotus wallpaper in Parma Gray and Railings while the pink looks lower and more charming in a room painted in gentle Skimming Stone.  They are dressed identically with soft grey velvet throws.


The Florentine double bed in Orchid pure cotton matt velvet, £1,040

Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone

The Florentine double bed in Prussian Blue pure cotton matt velvet, £1,040

Farrow & Ball Railings


Thank you so much, Joa, for chatting interiors with us! We’ve taken inspiration from Joa’s suggestions and pulled together a selection of fabrics that pair perfectly with her colour choices. Order your free samples pack here.




1 Comment :

  1. Helen Thomas

    I want to change the colour in my living room. I have a lot of old brown furniture, dressers etc. Not a lot of light in the room, dark corners also a problem. Could you give some guidance, please.

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