The Wicklewood Blog
- 18 Dec 2019
- HOUSE GUEST
It is likely that Joa Studholme has had a hand in at least one of the colours in your home. As colour curator at Farrow & Ball, she is responsible for developing and naming the iconic paint and wallpaper house’s palette. ‘I’ve always been obsessed with colour,’ she says, ‘as a child I spent hours rearranging my set of Caran Dache crayons.’ Joa has worked with Farrow & Ball for 20 years, written two books on colour, and gives talks and consultancy on how to choose a palette.
Joa’s own home - ‘the same house in Notting Hill for the last 30 years’ - has become her laboratory ‘if an idea comes into my head then I can never resist trying it out, be it a decorative scheme or a new colour,’ she says. Her countryside retreat, ‘a very small but perfectly formed home in the fields of Somerset’, is Joa’s ‘peaceful tonic’ is a place to ‘waste hours watching the cows and sheep - it’s addictive’.
A champion of changing colour schemes to suit the seasons, Joa is a woman after our own heart - we met her to talk colour (of course), inspirations and decorating for Christmas...
WW: Do you have a favourite colour?
JS: That’s like asking me which is my favourite child! You can’t beat Old White created by colour genius Tom Helme who reinvented Farrow & Ball - traditional whites make rooms feel they have been that colour forever. My favourite colour at the moment is Bancha, a dark olive which is achingly on trend - it has a strong connection with nature and an extraordinary protective quality. I’m in love with whichever colour I am developing...
WW: What inspires Farrow & Ball colours?
JS: Inspiration is endless - day-to-day life, travels, historic houses, the Dorset countryside, colours in nature. Names and colours are created in tandem, each one has meaning - sometimes as simple as a building where the colour was sourced - Inchyra Blue from Inchyra House in Scotland, or the colour of a vegetable - Brinjal. Sulking Room Pink, which felt like the perfect colour for a Boudoir, is taken from the French ‘Bouder’ to sulk, and we will never tell about Elephant’s Breath... My favourite name comes from a desire to make a gossamer white that was almost translucent, like a spider’s web - ‘Wevet’ is named after the Dorset dialect for exactly that. Nancy’s Blushes is named after the rosy cheeks of my daughter when she was a little girl, and De Nimes was inspired by the colour of my son’s workwear.
WW: Tell us about the interior of your home?
JS: It changes frequently! My family are very patient - even when they find me up a ladder wielding a paint brush at six in the morning. I made a subtle white especially for my house in Somerset - it reflects the iconic look of an old schoolhouse, and has become School House White. This nuanced neutral is painted on the majority of the walls – flashes of colour come in smaller gem-coloured rooms.
WW: What are your three golden rules on colour in the home?
JS: First, let the light in your room be your friend - work out which way it faces and how changing light will affect the colour. Rooms you use in the evening can be stronger colours to create snug space to retreat to.
Secondly, make a list of every element that needs to be painted – colour isn’t only about the walls; woodwork, furniture, architectural details and ceilings are all ingredients in the recipe. Think about what the colour combinations are going to achieve.
Thirdly, and most importantly, stick to what you feel comfortable with, keep to your own style.
WW: How do you make Christmas colour look festive without being cliched?
JS: I love to add little hidden bits of colour – often at Christmas, I paint the legs of my kitchen table in a deep shade like Preference Red – sophisticated reds are always warm and welcoming. Don’t be afraid to change the colour of small areas on a seasonal basis – I repaint the colour of the window frame in my kitchen regularly according to the garden…
My husband and I collect nativity scenes - we have around 50 gathered by us and kind friends from all over the world - these are our only decoration. We used to pride ourselves on extraordinary trees – hanging, or mounted either side of the fire, but since moving to an old schoolhouse the ceiling height is so huge that I just can’t waste such a tall tree - last year we had an outsized straight sided honeycomb tree in a fabulous emerald green.
WW: Finally, which Wicklewood cushions would you style together?