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Meet the Experts: Farrow & Ball

We’re over the moon to share the third episode of the ‘Meet the Expert’ series created in collaboration with the lovely ladies at My Bespoke Room. In this episode, we’re talking all things paint with Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball’s Colour Curator. 

My Bespoke Room’s Co-Founder, Diana, caught up with Joa in our Chelsea showroom to find out the best way to paint a small room, how to use colour and why premium paints are first-class. Read the full interview below…

Diana sits down with Joa Studolme to talk all things Farrow & Ball

How do you go about naming your paints? 

Well, there are lot of different ways to name paints. Sometimes it’s a way of grouping paints together and other times it’s just a bit of fun! There is a paint called ‘Nancy’s Blushes’ which is named after my daughter’s little, pink cheeks as a baby. One of our new colours, Treron, is named after its namesake, which is a green version of a pigeon.

And dare I ask, Elephant’s Breath? 

No, there is no answers to Elephant’s Breath! Other than the fact that it is quite a vaporous colour.

We get quite a few clients who are scared of colour, do you have any tips on using coloured paint? 

I think just go slowly. Start in hidden places, such as inside cupboards. There is nothing I like more than colour inside cupboards, especially for children! So often we have customers who want a very neutral home with a lot of grey.

I  try and convince the parents to let the child choose a colour to put inside their cupboard, so when they wake up in the morning they open their wardrobe it makes them smile. The benefit of this is that the parents can then shut it and pretend it’s not there! Wallpaper in cupboards is also lovely.

Farrow & Ball’s wheel of colour

What are your tips for painting a small room? 

If you have a small, dark room and you paint it white, you will have a very small, dark, dull white room. You’re much better off embracing a small, darker room and use a lovely, strong colour, such as Paean Black for a really striking look. Similarly, if you have a big, light room then I recommend keeping it light!

What are the big paint trends you’re seeing at the moment? 

A big trend at the moment is putting a very strong colour on the spindles of a stair case. It gives you a lovely, dark core through the centre of the house.

Can you tell us what the biggest mistakes you see people making when painting a home?

One of the things for me is when people stop paint colour at the picture rail. This immediately means that your ceiling height drops because you think that’s where the wall ends. So if you want a room to look taller then always paint as much of the wall as possible, it can even be from the bottom of the skirting to the top of the cornicing, this will make a room look much taller.

Customers ask us all the time, is it worth paying more for premium paint?

Farrow & Ball has been making paint for over 70 years, so we have a hell of a lot of experience, for a start. The paint has a look completely different to any other commercial brand. Farrow & Ball paint has an incredible depth of colour, and that’s because it’s packed with pigment and high quality ingredients. The walls will feel almost velvety, like you can dive into them!

Can you give us some tips on how to choose the right white paint? 

The way people use white these days is usually on woodwork and trims against a colour, so what we’ve tried to do over the years is create a complementary white for each colour, so if you are using a red on the wall you could use a white with a red base which fits together well, rather than creating a stark contrast. You can also use those whites as colour for your walls or ceilings, for example, you can use something like James White, which has a little bit of a green background, in a room facing a garden.

Bonus questions

1. How do you feel about painting floors? 

There has long been a tradition of painting floors, and suddenly it is fashionable again – for good reason. It saves huge amounts of money being spent on expensive stone and carpet, is easily washable, and fantastically durable. Painting a floor a light colour is the best way to bounce light around in a space that might feel dark.  Painting a floor a darker tone (especially in long thin corridors) makes a space immediately look wider.

However, it is its relaxed decorative quality that makes it so popular in the modern home. And the fact that you can let your imagination run wild – I have Sulking Room Pink and School House White chequer board on my bathroom floor and Preference Red stairs risers!

2. What are your top tips before you dip your paintbrush in the pot? And do you even use a paintbrush or do you prefer a roller?

I am afraid that preparation is the key. Professional painters will always spend more time prepping than actually painting. This is the boring bit, but the more care you take at this stage, the better the paint will look and the longer it will last. I personally prefer to use a brush, but roller is fine – but to be honest my top tip is to find yourself a decorator!

3. Where should we be using high gloss and matte paint? 

I am all over Full Gloss paint at the moment – traditionally it was only used on woodwork but I love to put it on ceilings to bounce the light around. It’s particularly great in bathrooms and children’s bedrooms. Farrow & Ball Emulsions should be used on walls and ceilings and have an exceptionally flat look, so the surfaces feel almost velvety, sheer bliss to live with.  At the moment my favourite use of finishes is to combine the two in the same colour; use Full Gloss on the skirting and bottom half of the wall and Estate Emulsion on the top.


Joa was interviewed on our Oscar Sofa in our beautiful Chelsea showroom. Oscar’s elegant design features hand tufting and gentle, rolled arms that radiate an air of luxury and sophistication. The graceful proportions and long, turned legs are perfectly suited for those who are looking for a modern twist on a traditional design. 

Finally, don’t miss out on our FINAL episode in our ‘ Meet the Expert’ series. Next time we’re talking to Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky, to chat about lighting up your home…



    Hi, what colour is the Oscar sofa used in the farrow and ball blog with Joa Studholme and Diana from My Bespoke Room


      Hi there, this is our Deep Turquoise cotton matt velvet 🙂

  2. Marianne

    Hi Please can you recommend a pale grey/cream wall paint to match the Bluebell sofa in Rye colour.

    I would prefer Dulux but happy to consider other makes.

    Many thanks


      Hi Marianne, if you head over to Farrow & Ball’s website ( you will be able to find more advice on finding the perfect colour for your home.

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