Joa Studholme is color genius. I've interviewed her many times over the years, and on each occasion I've come away with a new perspective on palettes. She has the ability to suggest exactly how to use pairings you might never have thought of, in a way you might never have dared, but that thanks to her you feel confident will be perfect for the space.
As the mastermind behind so many of Farrow and Ball's iconic colors, Joa has been setting the color agenda for years. It was she who created classic tones like Stiffkey Blue, Sulking Room Pink, and of course Joa's White. They all became color trends in their own right, immediately influencing how we wanted to decorate our homes. Here I caught up with her to find out just how to to choose color now.
how to use color at home for 2022
Pip Rich: Hi Joa, it’s been six months since you came to my house, bravely walked through all the builders’ dust, and advised me on color schemes. You gave me vision when I was lost in the mess of it all. Do people normally react with such excitement?
Joa Studholme: You certainly had a lot going on! But I was pleased to see you taking on a big project, I think everyone is being braver now, particularly in colors. Requests don’t tend to be about creating sanctuaries anymore, but instead style is about fun.I was thrilled to spot checks highlighted in Livingetc as a key interior design trend because I love them - use them on the floor, then take them all the way up the side of a bath. Be bold!
How to choose color for painted floors
PR: While you managed to convince my husband easily of your color ideas for our house, I tried to suggest a checkerboard floor for our wooden boards and he won’t go for it. What should I say to sway him?
JS: Painted floors are such a cheap solution, I’ve lived with them all my married life. They’re playful, they make you relax, a home that has them never seems formal. If that’s not enough, tell him they’re easy to do, and just need a little preparation. If doing a check, start with the lighter colour first.
How to choose color for a living room
PR: Much as I agree people want their homes to feel fun now, the vibe I’m seeing a lot is sophisticated cocktail lounge when it comes to living room ideas. What shades would you do for that?
JS: More than color, it’s finish. Go for gloss, always. It makes everything feel glamorous. Choose a bold shade like Stone Blue and gloss it over the walls and ceiling.
How to choose color for a ceiling
PR: Speaking of ceilings, I was surprised you recommended Slipper Satin for most of mine, different from what you suggested on the walls. I was convinced you’d go up and over. Why did you do that?
JS: It was about the height. If you have low rooms, you should always use the same colour on the walls and ceiling so your eye can’t tell where the wall ends. You’re lucky enough to have tall spaces, so we could highlight them a bit more.
PR: Well, I’m obsessed with the Jitney you suggested when we were discussing my dining room ideas. It’s smart but reminds me of a picnic blanket we had as a kid. There’s a comforting retro vibe to it.
JS: I always say the best colors are memories! It can be so overwhelming to look at colour charts, so pick shades that spark off a reminder of a happy time in your life.
How to pick the perfect white paint
PR: You once gave me great advice for interpreting the overwhelming whites on the Farrow and Ball color card when it comes to choosing the best white paint for interior walls. Simply put, you suggested blueish whites for cool, urban spaces, reddish whites for warmer urban spaces, green whites for cool country homes and yellow white for trad country vibes. Does that still stand?
JS: Yes it does! But since then, I’ve created a new collection of whites that are a very safe pair of hand for people to navigate, and should feel familiar and wonderful in any space. School House White, Shaded White, Shadow White and Dropcloth all have a stony base to them, and you just can’t use them wrongly.
The best color for the home in 2022
PR: And I have to ask, do you have a favourite color right now? Anything cropping up a lot in your kitchen color schemes, say?
JS: I can’t stop adding hits of color. Red doors, say, or covering radiators or window reveals in Harissa, a fiery orange from our archive. These details help to truly express a bit of personality, they’re so far from the greys we were all collectively into ten years ago. And I love them. I’ve said it before - be bold!
The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants. He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.
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