As Farrow & Ball’s colour consultant, Joa Studholme knows how to pick a palette (but she’s made mistakes in her own home, just like the rest of us...)
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Joa Studholme started out in advertising, but took a career swerve after having children and now works as a colour consultant, advising clients on the shades to choose for their homes. She has spent two decades helping paint company Farrow & Ball develop its colour palette, co-written the brand’s decorating bible, How to Decorate and even has a Farrow & Ball paint colour named after her: ‘Joa’s White’. She lives in West London with her husband Andrew and their two children.
Have you had any decorating mishaps?
I once painted a bathroom in an acid gloss green. I thought it would feel like being in a retro Fifties caravan. Sadly, it just made my children look incredibly ill at bathtime! I still can’t help experimenting with colour at any chance I get.
Which room in your home are you most proud of?
The only space I refuse to repaint is our hallway. It’s painted in a dark lead-grey shade called Down Pipe, which creates a very dramatic entrance while making all the rooms off it look spacious and light. I always paint small, dark spaces in strong tones. Deep colours like Tanner’s Brown or Hague Blue are strong, while big spaces I keep light with All White or Pink Ground.
Do you have any tips you can share with our readers?
When a room has low ceilings, I paint them the same colour as the walls, so you can’t tell where the walls end and the ceiling starts. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but incredibly effective. We live over two floors of a large Edwardian house. It’s eclectic and full of colour. I try to make everything informal and inviting. I’ve painted all the floors in my home, too. Floors painted in Strong White bounce light around the space, while coloured floors, in Brassica, Oval Room Blue, Railings and Babouche, add life and excitement. Painted floors, rather than carpets, also make decorative change easy – you can alter the colour much easier than you can with carpet.
You don’t have to use Georgian colours just because you live in a Georgian house, nor do you have to follow fashion slavishly. Use colours that you feel comfortable with and don’t be afraid to express yourself.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Give me a room or piece of furniture to paint and I am at my most relaxed. I’ve always loved colour. I spent hours of my childhood rearranging my crayons into different combinations to see how the colours sat together.
You must get a lot of people asking you for colour advice.
I love helping people to choose paints and wallpapers in their homes because every house is different and everyone likes different colours. I also develop the new colours for Farrow & Ball and I get to name them, too.
What is your favourite colour?
Everyone always asks me what my favourite colour is. That’s like asking me to pick my favourite child! However, I often return to Setting Plaster, which has a tender blushing tone, and Inchyra Blue is a great favourite because it feels very modern. I will always adore Light Blue, too… And on it goes!