If you’ve ever been curious which corners of our colour card are favoured by those who know them best, you’re in for a treat. Today on The Chromologist, Farrow & Ball Colour Curator Joa Studholme opens the doors of her home, a converted schoolhouse in the English countryside, for our eyes only.
It goes without saying that every colour choice inside – and outside – the old schoolhouse is carefully considered. The Black Blue-painted door, which contrasts beautifully with the yellow-hued stone of the entryway, hints at more colour to be discovered once you enter the house, while the hallway, painted in archive shade Olive, continues the lush hues from the garden outside.
“[The house] was originally painted throughout in an unstimulating white (albeit fitting for a schoolhouse)” says Joa, “but now the smaller rooms have been transformed into little jewel boxes of colour.”
In a nod to the building’s original function, some areas remain a soft neutral – the light, bright living room is painted, rather appropriately, in School House White. This versatile off-white was added to our palette by Joa in 2018, having been inspired by this very space.
Elsewhere in the living room, one of our favourite ways of using colour is effortlessly demonstrated – namely, that it doesn’t have to go on the walls to make a big difference to a space. Railings, a softer alternative to black, has been taken over the door and bookcase, while in the seating area, a low divider is painted in soft pink Nancy’s Blushes (“named after my daughter’s rosy cheeks when she was a child!” says Joa) creating a cosy nook that feels apart from the rest of the room – no mean feat in a large open-plan space.
Demonstrating a canny blend of beauty and practicality, even the floor isn’t exempt from a lick or two of our richly pigmented paint. “The floor was originally much lower in order to prevent the school children from being distracted by looking out of the window” says Joa. Now raised, it has a simple painted wood finish, for a relaxed feel and subtle durability. “Mouse’s Back, one of the original Farrow & Ball drabs” (colours with no brightness) “was chosen to create warmth – as well as to disguise muddy boot marks.”
Continuing the theme from the living room, the spacious kitchen – formerly the schoolroom for younger children – is painted in soft School House White, but with secret pockets and pops of colour that make the most of the room’s features. The kitchen units, painted in Studio Green, fit the rustic setting and reflect the greenery of the borrowed landscape, seen through the kitchen’s large windows. Babouche frames the windows, drawing a smile.
Through stable-style doors, the boot room and pantry can be glimpsed in all their secretive, jewel-bright glory. “The colours of the boot room and pantry add to the decoration of the kitchen” says Joa. “The doors have been cut in half to create tempting glimpses of their more upbeat colours.” Those colours are Oval Room Blue and the bright pink Rangwali, respectively. In these small spaces, they cover every surface in unapologetic colour, creating incredibly inviting hideaways.
As another masterclass in embracing the limitations of small spaces, Joa has painted the corridor to the bedrooms half in Inchyra Blue – a lush, deep, green-toned blue – and half in School House White, creating a transitional space that feels consciously designed and flows effortlessly from the main living space to the private sphere, a later addition housing three bedrooms.
The master bedroom opens straight onto the garden, making it the perfect candidate for green, as we’ve seen earlier in the house. Here, it’s French Gray, whose silvery green tones create a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor. As for the second bedroom, with its abundance of windows bringing in light from three directions – “it was only ever going to feel right painted in Light Blue” says Joa. “It’s positively blue in strong morning light and then becomes greyer as the evening progresses. Perfect for a bedroom.”
“There is a tendency to think that only big, light-filled rooms are able to “take” strong colours”, says Joa, “but this house demonstrates perfectly that this is not necessarily the case.”
“The large rooms, in which the most time is spent, are kept light and airy, while the smaller bedrooms have been enriched with colour and embrace you in their walls. It’s a recipe for happy living.”