Ten top tips for using paint in your home

Farrow & Ball's international colour consultant Joa Studholme is a magician with paint. Here she shares her top tips with Pattie Barron
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Joa Studholme
Crafty colour consultant Joa Studholme
1. People worry about losing the flow in a house if they use different colours, but if you use colours with the same tonal weight, you still create a flow. For instance, Sudbrook Yellow and Bookroom Red are from two different colour families but as they have the same tonal value you can go seamlessly from one room to the other.

2. If you’re wary of colour, put it somewhere you don’t have to look at it all the time, like your guest bedroom. There are many ways to add an accent of colour to get yourself used to it: the insides of bookcases, the inside back of a kitchen dresser, a little piece of furniture.

3. I love to paint the spindles of a staircase a darker colour, so they create a dark core up the centre of the house, which makes everything else seem much lighter. In the same way, paint the kitchen island darker so everything else feels lighter, and the space feels grounded. If you don’t have an island, paint the legs of the table a darker shade.

Joa Studholme's home
Visually lowering the ceiling by carrying paint colour down below the cornice creates a feeling of intimacy (above left); the darker the room, the stronger the colour Joa uses - traditional whites look drab in dark spaces (right)

Paint skirting boards the same colour as wallpaper rather than plain white to add more drama
4. If you’re using a strong design of wallpaper, you don’t want a little white line of skirting running along the bottom, so use a paint for the skirting that is either the colour of the wallpaper pattern, or the colour of the background (right).

5. The way to widen a long, thin room or a corridor is to paint the skirtings dark, and because the darkness is at the bottom, the lighter area above opens up the room. Dark below a dado rail, and lighter above, works even better.

6. Picture rails and dado rails are functional, but we’ve made them into these decorative objects, picking them out. I think it looks hideous to see a bit of wall, then coloured rail, then a bit more wall, a bit more coloured rail. I prefer to paint straight over them.

7. The darker the room, the stronger the colour I put on it; the lighter the room, the lighter the colour I use, to work with the light. Lighter, brighter whites work better in strong sunlight; traditional whites look drab.

8. Don’t sample a colour by painting it on the wall: paint it on two pieces of card and put them in different parts of the room and look at them day and night to see how the colour works. You need two pieces to compare. If you’re choosing wall and woodwork colour, paint the samples proportionately, and it will give you much more of a sense of how they will work together.

Colour in the bathroom
If you're wary of colour try using accents of colour to get yourself used to it (above left); In a neutral bathroom you can afford to make a bold statement (above right)

9. If you’re painting your front door, paint both door and frame, rather than have a little door in the middle, which makes it look insignificant.

10. The most important point about choosing exterior paintwork is to consider what your neighbours have. You can try and be clever and think, “Oh, I’ll have off-white”, but if your neighbour has bright white, your house will end up looking a bit grubby.

Joa Studholme costs £225 an hour for an in-home colour consultation that provides you with a plan of paint names, quantities and prices the following day.

A new similar service is provided by a colour consultant from your nearest showroom, for £175 an hour; visit farrow-ball.com

More colour and paint advice from Joa Studholme

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