Your Colourful Questions Answered: Part Three

Written on 6th January 2021

For the past few months, Patrick O’Donnell has been the undisputed star of our Instagram stories, imparting our daily doses of colour and tackling your decorating dilemmas.

Today, he’s answering some more of your most frequently asked questions right here on the blog, including how to decorate low-lit rooms, how to plan a room design from scratch, and how to paint kitchen cabinets with Farrow & Ball.

If you have a question and can’t see it here, try Part One and Part Two of our Colourful Questions Answered series.

How do I decorate a poorly lit hallway?

It’s easy to overthink the challenges of decorating ill-lit or light-starved spaces, but if you follow a couple of basic principles you should achieve the look and feel you are after.

Warm-toned colours are often the easiest starting point. Principally these have underlying yellow or red tones. There are a couple of great options in our key colours for 2021, including India Yellow, a rich, warm and deep ochre that will deliver a cosy ambience. Because this colour is quite strong on walls, simply team with a soft white on your woodwork, such as White Tie in Estate Eggshell – or Modern Eggshell if painting floors and stair treads – and keep the same white for your ceiling in Estate Emulsion.

A softer option is Jitney, a gentle mid-neutral (try it in super-tough Modern Emulsion for peace of mind) but team with a bolder woodwork colour such as Tanner’s Brown in Estate Eggshell, which will frame your wall colour rather beautifully! For those willing to err on the side of something much more dramatic, dark spaces work brilliantly with dark colours – why fight it? Think rich Bordeaux-toned Preference Red on your walls with the lilac-tinged Skimming Stone for your woodwork and Pointing for the ceiling.

Can you suggest a perfectly restful bedroom scheme?

We all know that greens and blues, with their association to nature’s elements, are inherently restful colours, so this palette is often a successful choice for a bedroom to help one relax and therefore sleep!

But moving away from these popular shades, gentle pinks can also lend themselves to successful bedroom schemes. Take our sophisticated Setting Plaster in Estate Emulsion, for example. The gentle underlying brown notes avoid any overtly saccharine qualities often associated with pinks and give this shade great versatility, whether you want to combine with a ‘country house’ aesthetic with old brown furniture and pretty floral motif prints or keep fairly monochromatic with plain ivory linen curtains and cane furniture.

Keep woodwork simple for both looks by choosing Wimborne White in Estate Eggshell and repeat the same colour on your ceiling in Estate Emulsion. If you have some furniture in your bedroom that could do with a refresh, try painting in Card Room Green for a pop of colour – its sober tone will sit beautifully against the Setting Plaster (all application notes can be found on our Product Advice Sheets).

What is the best finish for kitchen cabinetry?

For resilience and toughness, we would recommend using our Modern Eggshell finish for wood or MDF kitchen cabinets. You can mix up the finish for a nice design detail though, such as by applying Full Gloss to your kitchen island or lower cabinets.

Here are a couple of schemes for an elegant kitchen look:



Cabinets: Deep Reddish Brown Modern Eggshell
Larder Cupboard: Paean Black Full Gloss
Walls: Stony Ground Modern Emulsion
Ceiling: Dimity Estate Emulsion


Lower cabinets: Inchyra Blue Modern Eggshell
Kitchen island: Studio Green Full Gloss
Upper cabinets and trim: Shaded White Modern Eggshell
Walls: Shaded White Modern Emulsion
Ceiling: School House White Estate Emulsion

Once you’ve chosen your colour combinations, you’ll find step-by-step guidance on Painting Kitchen Cabinets right here on the blog.

What’s the best planning advice when starting a room from scratch?

Think about all the elements that are going to exist in your chosen room, from fabrics, furniture and flooring to – of course – your wall and woodwork colours.

Order samples where possible and create a mood board, either physical or digital. This will really help you see how everything will sit together. Most fabric and flooring companies offer a sampling service (most are free of charge, too). Look for inspiration online through Pinterest or Instagram and through print magazines.

Finally, and most importantly, lighting! Both natural and artificial lighting can make or break a room so never overlook this element, even down to where plug sockets will sit. No-one wants lamp cables draped across the floor.

Can I paint outdoors in winter?

Yes, you can, but do keep an eye on the forecast. Avoid painting if rain is due and paint earlier in the day to allow drying time and avoid any impact from condensation. Finally, avoid painting if the temperature is below 10°C (50°F). For more advice on exterior painting with Farrow & Ball, see our Perfect Preparation and Application section.

Here are some delicious exterior palettes for your consideration:


Front door: Stiffkey Blue Exterior Eggshell
Complementary woodwork: Strong White Exterior Eggshell


Front door: Sap Green Full Gloss
Complementary woodwork: Shadow White Exterior Eggshell


Front door: Sulking Room Pink Full Gloss
Complementary woodwork: Off-Black Exterior Eggshell

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