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Colour conversation with Joa Studholme


Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball’s colour expert and author of the new book Recipes for Decorating, talks paint names, favourite colour combinations and the importance of whites and neutrals…

Have you always wanted to work with colour?

Yes, when I was a child I spent most of my time rearranging my precious Caran D’ache colouring pencils to see how the different combinations worked.

Where do you find inspiration for creating new shades at Farrow & Ball?

A million different places. The latest colours were inspired by such diverse things as by being caught up in the Hindu festival of Holi in Northern India, my son’s workwear and the colour of leather hymn books.

How do you come up with such evocative paint names?

The names of the paints are incredibly important. Sometimes the name and the colour arrive hand in hand – Mizzle, a mix of rain and drizzle, was the perfect name for this uncertain blue grey. Other are inspired by places such as Inchyra Blue, which was a bespoke colour I created for Lord and Lady Inchyra. Sulking Room Pink comes from the French word ‘bouder’, to sulk, which is where the word boudoir comes from.

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Your new book, Recipes for Decorating, is just out. Can you tell us about it…

It is very much a manual about how to use colour rather than a beautiful coffee table book of unattainable houses. There are 13 case studies of houses of all sorts, from a chic Manhattan townhouse to a bucolic Somerset cottage, which include the colour recipe for each house and hints and tips on how to achieve their particular looks.

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Do you have a favourite Farrow & Ball shade?

It’s like asking which is my favourite child, but to be honest I don’t think that you can beat Old White, created by the colour genius Tom Helme, who reinvented Farrow & Ball. My favourite at the moment is Bancha because it is achingly on trend.

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What is your earliest colour memory?

Pink skies on a holiday in Cornwall.

How colourful is your own home?

Extremely – but it changes on a monthly basis.

How much does colour enter your wardrobe?

I tend to introduce colour into my wardrobe in very small quantities. Exciting shoes and head scarves are my particular calling cards.

What are your favourite colour combinations?

Too many to mention but I particularly like slightly mismatched colours like Farrow & Ball classics Blue Gray, Light Gray and Treron, which create combinations that ultimately feel relaxed.

What will we be painting on our walls in a year’s time?

I firmly believe that the mania for grey is on the wane and that we will all start embracing earthier, warmer tones.

Last great colourful buy?
Some fluorescent pink stickers to put on my chargers to prevent my family stealing them!

Do you have a favourite colour?

No, I just love colour in general, but I also believe that whites and neutrals are equally valuable. The most important thing is that we all like something different. The world would be a much duller place if we didn’t.

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Recipes for Decorating, by Joa Studholme, a guide to bringing your home to life with paint and paper, is available here


Joan Walker on May 29, 2019 3:34 PM

This makes me smile. I have always had a passion for colour too. Now at the age of 64 , I am an accomplished milliner who specialises in dyeing to match my clients outfits. I love it!