Introducing Colour

Introducing Colour

I am currently locked out of my house, which seems like the perfect time to compose a blog post on the subject of colour.

This week, with the help of Karen McBain, we ran our first 'mood board workshop'.  It was fascinating to see the ideas that people had visualised come to life on a wooden board.  It allowed for individuals to articulate their vision using a creative and fun process.

For some, those ideas had yet to develop.  Challenges such as moving from a cottage with bundles of character to a 70's box, knowing you could be a fan of the Scandinavian look, but still clutching floral textiles from that country look you created back in the day. For this particular project, we started by painting the board using the colour that had already been chosen for the walls. Then, we started to include some images of mid century (modern) style pieces in slightly lighter tones of wood, which worked well with the clean, straight lines of the architecture.  We  added textiles with graphic prints using harmonious colours (blues and greens). A scheme was starting to develop.

Kate Watson-Smyth, author of the Mad About the House book, talks about how observing the colours used in your own wardrobe, (that's the clothes inside your wardrobe and not actually what colour you painted the wardrobe), can help you identify what colours you are drawn to and therefore what colours you could use within your home.  This idea was perfectly played out by one of our mood board attendees who managed to recreate the jacket they were wearing straight on to the mood board.  A beautiful eclectic jacket in vibrant jewelled colours. Cannot wait to see how this one plays out.

We are hoping to make this workshop a regular fixture, so do look out for future dates if this is something you think you would enjoy.

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

Discussions around what colour to use on projects comes up frequently in the shop.  I don't know about you, but I for one, feel like there is too much choice nowadays and that it has all got a little bit confusing. Not just the range of colours, but which paint brand to use. Plus, it isn't as simple as painting the wall, skirting and ceiling the same colour anymore, although depending on who you listen to, this is also something that gets advised.

Just a couple of days ago, Farrow & Ball launched nine new colours, ranging from exotic pink, a deep red to a down to earth blue.   It is further confirmation that the interiors industry is expecting us to be using more colour in the future (will you be one of them, if you aren't already!)

The use of grey has been one that has gone on for a long time.  I am personally excited to see a shift away from ‘greymania’ with the move towards the introduction of warmer tones, although according to Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative for Farrow & Ball, "grey has gone from a bit of a cult shade to a really popular feature in homes over the past few years and it certainly still has it’s place in our palette".

Sourced from Farrow & Ball website (above picture and below descriptions)

School House White

This is the lightest colour in the group including Shadow White, Shaded White and Drop Cloth – each created to look like white when used in deep shade. Pared back, timeless and familiar without the cool undertones of the more contemporary neutral groups, this soft off white is reminiscent of the colour used in old school houses.


This enduring colour is a dark green version of Farrow & Ball classic Pigeon, hence being named after the green variety of the same species. Although traditional in feel, Treron is perfect for modern homes where lots of natural materials are used or as an accent for both French Gray and our Traditional Neutrals.


This earthy colour sits somewhere between the more traditional Oxford Stone and greyer Elephant's Breath. Though muted, it is incredibly uplifting and reminds us of lazy days by the sea – hence sharing its name with the bus that whisks New Yorkers out of the hot city to the similarly coloured sandy beaches of the Hamptons.

Paean Black

This Georgian inspired red based black creates an intimate feel in super contemporary or bohemian homes, while adding a distinguished look to traditional exteriors. The perfect accent for all our reds and completing our range of blacks, Paean Black conjures up the shade of old leather hymnals and so is named after a song of praise.

Sulking Room Pink

Not to be seen as overtly pink, but rather a muted rose with enormous warmth, its powdery feel makes it incredibly soft and easy to use with complementary tones. Sulking Room Pink is evocative of the colours so often used in boudoirs, a room named after the French ‘bouder’ – to sulk.


This colour is exotic, happy and vital. The most adventurous of our pinks, Rangwali is incredibly friendly and takes its name from the powder which is thrown so enthusiastically during the Holi festival of colours in India. Though bright, it has an absorbing depth of colour which is achieved by adding a small dose of black pigment.

Preference Red

The deepest and richest of our reds, this Baroque colour is named in honour of our original trade name, Preference Paints. It can be used with any of the Red Based Neutrals but is particularly striking when seen in combination with Paean Black and Sulking Room Pink. The preferred red of modern homes!


This mid-century modern green is a darker version of the much loved archive colour, Olive. Perfect for those who want to embrace stronger colour in the home, its sober tone creates rooms that feel calm and serene – especially when combined with soft pinks and browns. Named after Japanese tea leaves, Bancha, like a cup of green tea, provides a feeling of security.

De Nimes

This quietly elegant blue feels wonderfully down to earth, so could be used on anything from a kitchen island to an airy drawing room. The exact shade is rooted in a regency palette but is inspired by the cloth of everyday workwear made in the French city Nîmes. Like denim, its blue hue is ultimately fashionable and yet always feels grounded.

Dulux Colour of the Year 2019

Only recently, Dulux declared their Colour of the year 2019 to be Spiced Honey (above), which is certainly a colour hue I saw being used a lot at Maison & Objet, a trade fair in Paris.

Choosing a colour

One of my favourite interior books 'In the Mood for Colour', by Hans Blomquist, references the  power of colour, but that yet so many struggle with choosing the right shades for their home, instead falling back on a safe but unadventurous palette of bland neutrals.

Remember, there really is no right or wrong and as many an interior designer has said before, rules and regulations are there to be broken.  One key element that will change how the paint will look in your home vs. another is how the room is affected by light.  In the 'Mood for Colour', Hans Blomquist lists just a couple of considerations when starting out;  'Northern light is cool and blue so can make a space look cold and stark.  Darker, richer shades work well in this sort of light. Southern light is golden and bright and makes almost any colour look good, but be warned that whites can look creamy and greys turn to beige'

When you are testing, try to use a large sheet of lining paper over a small A4 piece of paper and move it around the room and see how the light affects it.  Although paint is the easiest thing to change (Mr Wattle just did a proof read of this doc and asked me to remove this sentence!), it would be great if you could get it right the first time (not something I have always managed to do!!)

When choosing colours, there is inspiration all around us.  One couple who came to the mood board workshop, used a handful of the beetroot vegetable crisps we were serving as a 'starter for ten'. A beautiful vibrant deep burgundy colour.  I just love the idea that their scheme came about through some vegetable crisps.

Which brand of paint?

As part of the launch of Farrow & Ball paints, a beautiful installation in the heart of London has been erected, an immersive experience to say the least.  These colours are undoubtedly beautiful and the matt paint finish creates a wonderful velvety feel.  But, I am interested to know where do you stand on the subject of paint brands?  Would you still buy Farrow & Ball, if it was called ‘Wally & Ball’?

Personally, I am a big fan of Little Greene - paint so thick it's like double cream.  Another paint I totally love is a lime wash paint by a company called Bauwerk.  If you have a moment, check out their website as it is full of beautiful inspiring spaces.

It is also really worth checking out some of the lesser known brands.  Our shop in Godalming is lucky enough to share Church Street with the hardware store Cornmeter, which has lots of options including a brand called Colourtrend, an Irish decorative paint company.  You could take a scrubbing brush to a wall using this paint and not a lot would happen!  We have recently painted our back area of the shop in a gorgeous rich mulberry colour, called Pine Marten, and mixed it with mustard accents to transform the space.

Anyway, there is so much more to say on the subject of colour, but finally Mr Wattle has come home and let me back into my house, so for now that's all I will say on the subject, but it's made me think about lots of other discussions / blog ideas.