Article by Farrow & Ball

There is nothing so exciting as moving into a new home and decorating it to your own taste. Joa Studholme, colour curator for environmentally friendly paint and wallpaper maker Farrow & Ball, has worked with Weston Homes to bring you expert advice on how to create the perfect look and feel.

When it comes to choosing colours for rooms, you need to consider more than just the aspect and light condition, although they are of course crucially important. The choice of colour for the woodwork and the ceiling is just as important as that of the walls – you must think of the room as a whole. A bright white on either ceiling or trim will make the walls look darker, as well as making you more aware of where the walls end and the ceiling begins, causing the ceiling height to “drop”. Use either a complementary white (something with the same base colour as the walls, which you’ll find listed on the Farrow & Ball website) or, if you are braver, use the same colour on walls, woodwork and ceiling – not nearly as frightening as it sounds!

The quality of the light will change how you perceive the colour. So you need to think about what time of day you will use the space, as well as whether it faces north, south, east or west.

Light is your friend when it comes to decorating, so do not fight what Nature has given you. Large, light rooms are best suited to lighter tones while stronger colours bring small, dark rooms to life. Most importantly, choose something that you feel comfortable with. There are no rules.

If you are decorating a room you use only at night, then you can afford to choose a much stronger colour that will create an intimate, cosy space, as it will be artificially lit anyway. Rooms you work in during the day will probably benefit from being kept light; you still need to consider whether the space would benefit from warm undertones, or if you want to embrace cool light.

South-facing rooms are often the easiest to decorate as they are filled with warm light for most of the day. Pale, soft tones such as Cromarty, Pink Ground, Hay or Skimmed Milk White will maximise the feeling of light and space, while the slightly stronger Blue Gray, Setting Plaster, Sudbury Yellow and Bone will all glow in south light.

North-facing rooms tend to bring out the green in all colours. If you want to avoid this, look to warm-based neutrals such as Jitney, Oxford Stone or Stony Ground. Alternatively, embrace the cooler north light by using stronger tones, including Sulking Room Pink, Brassica or Bancha. Deeply saturated colours are perfect for use in north-facing rooms.

Choosing colour for an east- or west-facing room is totally dependent on what time of day you use the space. Light in east-facing rooms tends to be cooler in the evening and brighter in the morning. In west-facing rooms it is the other way round. So, if you are lucky enough to have a room that benefits from both east and west light, the colour will change throughout the day – making the walls feel alive.

East-facing rooms tend to benefit from soft, calming colours with an underlying warmth, such as Peignoir or Pale Powder, while using cooler tones like Cornforth White and Dimpse in west-facing rooms will neutralise the warm light at the end of the day.



South-facing rooms

  • Neutrals – School House White and Shaded White create a soft, “shaded” feeling.
  • Blues – Parma Gray and Stone Blue are clean blues that work well in south light.
  • Reds – try Crimson Red or Cinder Rose – better to keep to reds with an underlying pink which will be less harsh in southern light.
  • Greens – Yeabridge Green and Vardo are joyous and uncomplicated.
  • Yellows – Babouche and Citron are delightfully sunny and uplifting.
  • Darks – go for Stiffkey Blue or Studio Green (though I tend not to use darks in a south-facing space).

North-facing rooms

  • Neutrals – Joa’s White and Matchstick are traditional but will warm the space.
  • Blues – Oval Room Blue and De Nimes create fabulous, dramatic spaces.
  • Reds – Calamine or Radicchio. You need a bit of punch in north light.
  • Greens – Green Smoke and Sap Green feel earthy and connected to the natural world in north-facing rooms.
  • Yellows – Tallow and Dayroom Yellow are magical for bouncing any available light around.
  • Darks – Inchyra Blue and Tanners Brown are glamorous and sophisticated in north light.

West-facing rooms – totally dependent on when you use the room

  • Neutrals – Ammonite and Wevet are so delicate that they become almost translucent.
  • Blues – choose Borrowed Light for a fresh look, or Mizzle if you want to be more mellow.
  • Reds – Red Earth and Picture Gallery Red – terracotta works particularly well in the ever-changing west light.
  • Greens – Lichen and Card Room Green both come alive in west light.
  • Yellows – Farrows Cream and Dorset Cream will positively glow in the evening and still be welcoming in the morning.
  • Darks – Salon Drab and Mouse’s Back will both feel muted in the morning, brown in the day and rich in the evening.

East-facing rooms – totally dependent on when you use the room

  • Neutrals – Slipper Satin and Off White look like they have been there forever, although they’ll read richer in morning light.
  • Blues – Pigeon and Mizzle are soft and mellow in east light.
  • Reds – Setting Plaster and Dead Salmon will look soft and muted.
  • Greens – French Gray and Treron give a soft and moody feel.
  • Yellows – India Yellow and Sudbury Yellow are moody and traditional in feel.
  • Darks – London Clay and Paean Black keep it moody and uncertain.


Farrow & Ball In-Home Colour Consultation – £195 per hour

Farrow & Ball In-Home Online Colour Consultation – £130 per hour

To book please visit

Colour consultations are also available with Joa Studholme,  Colour Curator and author of Farrow & Ball titles including Recipes for Decorating and How to Decorate. £250 per hour for an online or in-home appointment. To book, please email