In Conversation With Salvesen Graham

Written on 2nd December 2019

Since 2013, Nicole Salvesen and Mary Graham have been working together to create beautiful interiors, fashion-forward homewares, and curated spaces bursting with covetable buys. But their successful firm, Salvesen Graham, didn’t come to fruition overnight – it’s the result of 26 years of combined experience and the carefully honed eye for colour and pattern that helps them put their signature modern twist on the classic English style. We sat down with the pair to get their top tips and Farrow & Ball favourites.

WHICH FARROW & BALL COLOURS DO YOU KEEP COMING BACK TO?

We have so many old favourites, and a couple of new ones too! You can’t beat Lime White for the perfect woodwork colour and we’ve always found Joa’s White to be a really versatile wall colour (it’s about as neutral as we’ll go on the wall). Pigeon and Light Blue are ideal when you’re looking for that perfect mix between green and blue and you don’t want anything too cold. From the more recent additions to the range we just love Bancha – it’s got such a great depth of colour and enough yellow to stop it feeling too old fashioned. Mary’s just about to paint her dining room in it, so watch this space!

WHAT KINDS OF COLOURS ARE YOU SEEING A DEMAND FOR RIGHT NOW?

We’re really noticing a trend for richer, warmer colours at the moment. Partly it’s the time of the year, but there’s definitely a broader trend across interiors of people wanting to feel warm and safe at home and a pervading sense of nostalgia – gone are the neutral 90s! People are also getting braver and more confident with using colour and pattern, which is great news for us as we’ve always been huge champions of colour in the home.

YOU HAVE A FEW FAMILY HOME PROJECTS UNDER YOUR BELTS – HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEAUTY WITH PRACTICALITY IN THESE BUSY SPACES?

Having young families ourselves, practicality is of huge importance to us, but we don’t feel there should ever be a choice between beauty and practicality; there is always room for both. Being clever with your paint finishes can be a great way to combine beauty and practicality. A glossy, brightly coloured wall can look great in a kitchen and is super practical for spills, splashes and sticky fingers. Using low-level panelling in a tough finish like Modern Eggshell is also a clever way to allow you to use a fabulous wallpaper above without the constant fear of the paper being damaged by a wayward scooter or football boot!


YOU’RE RENOWNED FOR YOUR UNEXPECTED COLOUR COMBINATIONS – DO YOU HAVE ANY CURRENT FAVOURITES?

We’ve really been enjoying using pink and green recently – Bancha and Setting Plaster make a great combination. It can be such a grown-up and sophisticated colour palette at one end of the spectrum and then very playful and fun at the other. Over the last couple of months, we’ve also found ourselves using brown a lot in our schemes. It’s a surprisingly warm and versatile colour which again looks really good with greens and pinks. Mouse’s Back, for example, makes a very sophisticated and inviting wall colour.

ANY TIPS FOR SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE NERVOUS ABOUT USING BRIGHTER OR STRONGER COLOURS IN THEIR HOME?

We always advise people who are nervous to start small and build up their confidence. You have to have conviction in what you’re doing so there’s no point painting your whole house in a bright colour if you don’t feel confident with the idea.

A great place to experiment with colour is in the downstairs loo – usually a small space where you can afford to be a bit more creative than usual. Once you’ve gained some confidence, a guest bedroom is another place to try out some new ideas as it’s a room that you don’t have to use and live with every day.

If you’ve got a room in your house that is naturally dark, that would be another place where we would suggest embracing stronger colours rather than trying to paint the room in a light colour and hoping that it will feel bigger and brighter.

Perhaps our most important tip for the first-time colour user is to make sure that there isn’t a huge contrast between your wall colour and your woodwork colour. If you want a room to feel chic and intimate, then don’t paint the ceiling and skirting in bright white. Try using a more knocked-back white or, even better, use a darker colour still. It’s often the sharp contrasts that make using strong colour unsuccessful, so really think about skirting, doors, windows, cornice and ceilings.

YOUR PROJECTS HAVE SHOWN US THAT LITTLE DETAILS CAN HAVE A BIG IMACT – ARE THERE ANY THAT HOMEOWNERS TEND TO OVERLOOK?

As mentioned above, thinking about your woodwork, cornice and ceiling is just as important as thinking about your wall colour – they can have a huge impact on the overall feeling of a room and it’s amazing how many people just go for a standard white. It’s also really worth spending time thinking about things like door handles and light switches, as these are the decorative touches that really finish off a room and provide continuity throughout your home.

SHOP SALVESEN GRAHAM’S FAVOURITE SHADES
Try the design duo’s top Farrow & Ball picks with free delivery on sample pots

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