Farrow & Ball’s color expert gives us the courage we need to go bold.

By Tina Chadha
October 13, 2017
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This gorgeous kitchen uses Farrow & Ball Salon Drab and Wimborne White.

Painting might be the easiest (and most inexpensive) way to transform a space, but anyone who's spent hours working a roller knows it's not something they want to revist in two weeks. So should you stick with what you know -- light, white, safe-- or pull the trigger on that edgy dark hue? To help make the smartest decision for our space, we spoke to Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball's top color expert for advice on going bold in our home. After all, she's the lady responsible for creating gorgeous pigments for the luxe paint and wallpaper brand (and giving them their quirky names!).

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A hallway or entryway is a great spot to experiment with color and print.
James Merrell

BABY STEPS

Nervous about a bold palette or committing to a wallpaper print? Studholme says start small, with a hallway or entryway. "That's a great way to put color in your home, but you don't have to sit in it for large amounts of time," she says. "When you come into the front door you're like, ‘Wow,' then as you walk through the colors that follow should be lighter and brighter."

DESIGN: The Smartest Entryway
Farrow & Ball's latest wallpaper collection features three new floral patterns including the striking Hegemone, featured here.
James Merrell

CHECK YOUR NATURAL LIGHT

When it comes to picking a color, Studholme stresses the importance of checking in with your natural light -- especially when going with darker hues. "If you have a small, dark, dull room, a light wall color doesn't create light," says the expert. In fact, it's just the opposite. "When you are starved of light, it's better to go for a really strong color" to add depth to the room. Then decorate with lighter elements to "make it welcoming."

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Darker wall colors add dept and interest to rooms lacking natural light.
James Merrell

COZY NOOK

We've been noticing a lot of darker bedrooms lately. But how can you give your sacred space a snug feel without making it look like a bat cave? "My advice would be in a bedroom to keep it quite warm, because cooler colors feel harsh and flat, whereas warmer [shades] cocoons you, like they are giving you a hug," says Studholme. She recommends trying Farrow & Ball's Dove Tale or Setting Plaster. But before you even get to that point, ask yourself: "Do you want to bounce out of bed in the morning or be cozy?" The color you choose will affect that. Right now, Studholme is loving Pale Powder or Skylight, which have "a light feeling but a warmth to it," and Peignoir, a color she created, "to prove that pink is not just for girls."

Get creative and paint your trim a bold color.
James Merrell

STILL ON THE FENCE? PAINT JUST THE TRIM

If you want a darker color incorporated somewhere in your design scheme but can't part with bright white walls, paint only the trim a darker shade. "It's the big thing we're seeing now," says Studholme. "You put the lighter color on the biggest surface and then paint the edges darker so you get some definition and some movement." If you're over the charcoal-gray trend, she recommends trying Railings, a dark blue, or Tanners, a deep brown, on the trim.

Comments (11)

Anonymous
December 3, 2019
This article is wonderful. Thanks so much for the links to new colors that are exciting!
Anonymous
August 19, 2019
What is the formula of MS Bookcloth brown?, its beautiful and still on trend. Can't retouch my walls cause its no longer made, and lost can. Please help
Anonymous
August 14, 2019
After years of stark white kitchens I painted my kitchen walls navy blue (Ben Moore Old Navy) and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a rich color that makes the white cabinets and trim really stand out.
Anonymous
August 14, 2019
After 22 years of basil green master bedroom walls, I jumped right into the "dark is the new me" syndrome and boy I am so delighted I did. My master bedroom has 6 windows 4 of which face south/east... lots of natural light so I knew the room could handle dark walls. I chose Behr's Mined Coal.... an amazing dark gray and I highlighted the walls with stark white soft woven 84" curtains knotted near the bottom... Outstanding. Now I want to live in my master bedroom... Going dark in the room made it very sexy...
Anonymous
August 14, 2019
I use a black wall on an outside wall to make the wall go away visually in my great room. It is backlit by the window and French doors that pour in light from outside and makes it feel connected more with the outside instead of being in a box. It also disguises the wall mounted tv and electronics until they’re turned on. It works on small spaces too.btw the doors,window, and baseboards are trimmed in white to sharpen it up.
Anonymous
July 11, 2018
I like this.And i want recommend a site for you to buy cheap home&garden supplies for your room,visit: : https://www.asiteoneworld.com/Home-Garden for details thanks!
Anonymous
February 12, 2018
I like your ideas, we painted the dining room a pretty pastel green, Blanket from Lowes, it's lovely! the Living room was painted blue, Ugh! we hate it! It looked so much better in your magazine! Thank you for all your suggestions, Love your cupcake decorating ideas. xoxxo
Anonymous
October 25, 2017
Love your suggestions and ideas about living and eating well Martha. Thank you. xo
Anonymous
October 25, 2017
I can not believe how gorgeous is the blue and yellow room. It is truly breathtaking, yet cozy too. So inspiring and happy. I am going to put on my yellow citrine bracelet this instant!
Anonymous
October 25, 2017
Could not help noticing potatoes stacked on the radiator (the one painted that awful dark brown) and wondered 'whatever?'. Maybe the stylist didn't know what they were.
Anonymous
October 25, 2017
Love the polka dots! I see them in my near future!!!