This week, we’re inviting you inside Cathy Chivers’ Herefordshire holiday rental, a Nordic chalet whose distinctive exterior you might recognise from Netflix UK’s Sex Education.
Cathy recently enlisted the help of Farrow & Ball colour expert Kat Billings to transform the picturesque property’s all-neutral rooms into cosy, characterful spaces. We caught up with her to find out what she thought of the process, the results, and her new favourite rooms.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A FARROW & BALL COLOUR CONSULTATION?
It was the house appearing in Sex Education, and people’s expectations when we rented it out. It was a case of “how do we do something with the house that isn’t following the set, but which is characterful and references the house itself?"
I wanted to do something that felt authentic, and I didn’t feel confident in doing that myself. I felt quite nervous and anxious about it.
When we first moved into the house it was technicolour, and I painted it neutral because I didn’t know what else to do. It was meant to be a stopgap. It’s that hesitancy – when you put a really bold colour on the wall, it’s there and it feels really hard to change.
WERE THERE ANY CHOICES IN PARTICULAR THAT TOOK YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE?
Oh, definitely. From the get-go, when Kat was looking at De Nimes or Hague Blue in the sitting room, that set the tone instantly. I would say the sitting room, the conservatory, and the attic were really unexpected and out of my comfort zone. I never would have chosen those colours myself.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SPACE IN THE HOUSE?
Yes, I think the place where I always seem to linger is the attic. There’s a small area which used to hold the sofa bed. Now that’s gone, and I’ve got a vintage sofa there with some books and a drinks trolley. It’s just got the most amazing view down the Wye Valley, and it’s now such a lovely place to sit and read a book.
WHICH ROOM DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN MOST TRANSFORMED?
The conservatory, definitely. When we had the conservatory extension done, it had very light paintwork, so it was very bright, quite sterile, and hard.
When the Green Smoke went on, I just thought “wow, that’s so dark!” I couldn’t imagine how it was going to work because it was such an enormous contrast. But now, there’s not so much contrast with the floor or the limestone table, so that works really well. And, because of the colour, it directed me to put lots more greenery in there, and it changed the whole feel of the room.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE EXPERIENCE?
Just chatting with Kat was so lovely because it’s not often – at least for me – that you get to speak to someone who is so creative and such an expert so, generally, the process itself was lovely from that point of view.
In terms of a favourite part, we got to the point where Kat was talking about different colours, and after we finished that process of going round the rooms, she showed me the colour fan and I could see all the colours together. It was so exciting, because at that point I couldn’t wait to get started and see how the end result would look.
WHAT WAS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED DURING THE PROCESS?
There was practical advice, so advice about the right finish, the right Primer & Undercoat, and the light in each room – that was great.
But it was also the way I was pushed out of my comfort zone. Even though it wasn’t direct advice from Kat, it was her making me be brave with accepting her choices. I would say yes to anything. Throw caution to the wind!
I wouldn’t have thought of myself as being somebody who would have a colour consultation, but the experience was just great
HOW DID WORKING TOGETHER WITH KAT DIFFER FROM HOW YOU WOULD APPROACH A PROJECT LIKE THIS ON YOUR OWN?
Going from room to room, all the colours that Kat chose – there is a flow to them but it’s not that obvious. She was also looking at the exterior colours of the house and making the rooms work with that exterior colour, as well as the green of the outside, which I would have discounted completely.
It was also so lovely working with everyone at Farrow & Ball. At the outset I felt – not intimidated, but I wouldn’t have thought of myself as being somebody who would have a colour consultation. But the experience was just great, and really informal. It was a lovely, lovely experience.