This 1840s schoolhouse in Somerset is now Joa Studholme's colourful family home

Joa Studholme's 19th-century schoolhouse in Somerset hides a kaleidoscope of colour in every room...

schoolhouse in Somerset


The 1840s schoolhouse in Somerset is now the colourful family home of Farrow & Ball's colour curator Joa Studholme. The house has one level that is comprised of a large living area (the original main school room), kitchen, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a WC.


A bundle of cotton plant branches hints at snow and echoes the pale shade of the wreath (pictured top).


This 19th-century schoolhouse is simple and compact, in the middle of nowhere (a few miles outside of the town Bruton) and surrounded by gorgeous countryside.When the house was bought, the structure and refurbishment of the property remained the same but white walls were swapped for something a little more vibrant. It's already been repainted twice in the past year.

Each wall has been doused in a particular shade, selected to create a reaction that goes way deeper than the usual throwaway comment of, ‘Ooh, that’s a lovely colour’.

schoolhouse in Somerset

The entrance hall (above) has been painted in Farrow & Ball's Bancha – and for good reason.When you arrive at the house, you are immersed in an idyllic location. As you walk through the garden to the front door, plants and greenery surround you. The paint choice for the entrance hall helps carry on the feeling, and so as you step into the house you are faced with this deep olive shade. The outside comes indoors, so to speak.

schoolhouse in Somerset


Moving into the hallway there is a dark area, painted in Inchyra Blue, to create an atmosphere of cosiness and protection.

As it's a long and thin corridor, the colour was only taken half way up the wall. If the narrow space had been blue all the way to the ceiling, the space would have felt very enclosed. By using a light shade at the top, the area feels more open.

schoolhouse in Somerset


Then, passing through into the living room, you are suddenly hit with a huge, dazzling room painted in School House White. And it’s no accident. The transition from dark to light hits you between the eyes and fools you into thinking the room is even bigger and even brighter.

schoolhouse in Somerset

The high ceiling and walls painted in School House White create impact.

schoolhouse in Somerset

A gallery wall gets a festive feel with eclectic decorations and paper chains.

schoolhouse in Somerset

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A diverse palette, from dark hues to the yellow highlight at the window, adds focus.

schoolhouse in Somerset


A striking colour was chosenfor the pantry-cum-bar. The colour is taken all the way over the ceiling, which gives the impression of being encased in a jewel box.

schoolhouse in Somerset


The intimacy of this space was embraced by using delicate Setting Plaster on walls and woodwork to treat guests to a room that feels tender and soothing.

schoolhouse in Somerset

The dramatic red curtains are an heirloom.

schoolhouse in Somerset

Photography / James Merrell

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Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, showcases the world's very best homes, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. it was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip McCormac.