Decorating? Read This First…

A great decorating book to feast upon, if you’re something of an interiors aficionado; Farrow & Ball’s Recipes for Decorating* by Joa Studholme. It’s an absolute visual delight. Whether you’re a serial re-painter who loves to experiment with colour or a confused starter with no idea how to pick a more flattering shade for the living room (me), it has both practical advice (how to work with the type of light you have, how to complement your architecture) and pure, unadulterated pictorial eye candy. Pages and pages of painted walls in modern houses, in creaky manors, in cosy attics and open spaces.

I should actually pop my hand up here and say that if all of that sounds like your idea of heaven then you need to make sure you’ve already done the first book from Farrow & Ball, which is called How To Decorate*. Again, educational elements sit alongside a total visual bombardment of decorating loveliness, so you can either read it cover to cover, absorbing every word (me) or dip in and out over a cup of nighttime cocoa for months afterwards, ruminating over future projects in the same way you might look to recipe books for a casual appetite whetter (also me).

How To Decorate (I bought mine here*) starts at the very, very beginning – looking at the direction your light comes from into a room, the size of a room, what you’re going to be using a room for – and gently suggests reasons for choosing certain paint shades and finishes. Although it’s very obviously the best possible advert for Farrow & Ball’s own paint range, you don’t really notice that – or, in my case, I don’t really care. Anyone who can impart such good advice in such an engaging way can take my money, quite frankly. But the decorating style advice could feasibly apply to any paint or wallpaper brand so long as you’re willing to ignore F&B’s warnings about pigment and quality and depth of colour.

Recipes for Decorating takes things a step further with proper in-depth case studies in real houses, looking at the way the paint shades change in different light, how they work with architectural features and so on. At the end of each case study there’s a recipe card with all of the shades noted down – and you can see really clearly here how different paints can look when used in practice.

There’s also a brief section on how to be your own colour curator – the colour curation is a service F&B offer to all customers, where a curator comes to your house and helps you to pick paints. Basically. I treated myself to this last week and it was excellent – it’s £195, but you get a £50 voucher to spend on paint so I’m calling it £145.

And it was so helpful – my curator, Jill, just knew all of the shades inside out and how they would look in each room so it made the decision-making process so much quicker and easier. I’m going to do a full review on the service, so if you have any specific questions then let me know – I wanted to get this post out first because it has been sitting in my drafts folder for months, waiting for images!

So: wonderfully curated book of house p*rn + practical decorating advice = book worth having. Find it online here*, it’s currently £15.94, which also makes it prime Christmas gift-giving fodder if it’s not too early to mention the C-word…

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  1. Jane Mackrell
    December 6, 2019 / 10:31 pm

    I have all of the Farrow and Ball decorating books, as well as the Little Greene Book of colour, and another one by Kevin McCleod. I have poured over them all, read them cover to cover and think I know all about the way colours ‘behave’. And yet I still need the help of a consultant to tell me which colours to use!!

  2. November 14, 2019 / 11:48 am

    I am saving this book for the time when I can actually have a say in the way I decorate my house – Right now we share it with my (aging) parents, amazing for the children and for staying connected as a family, not so good for making your own interior choices…

    Anne from Doctor Anne

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