Q&A with Farrow & Ball


We asked Farrow & Ball’s Head of Creative, Charlotte Cosby, for her top tips on how to decorate with colour at home.

Is there such a thing as a typical day working with Farrow & Ball?

Definitely not! I’m in one of those jobs where no two days are the same, which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. My day can involve anything from trialling new designs and colour ways in our wallpaper factory and brainstorming creative ideas with my team, to overseeing our campaign photoshoots and travelling to design shows to research new trends.

Do you think you were always destined for a career in design?

I’ve loved design, interiors and colour for as long as I can remember but I took a rather unusual path to get to this role. I studied Management Science at university and afterwards went straight to work in a bank. As it turns out, I wasn’t that interested in Swiss market intelligence so packed my bags and headed for an advertising agency in London. There I worked as a planner but soon realised my heart was in creative and I went to work for a freelance interior designer and gallery owner. Finally, at the tender age of 23, I settled at Farrow & Ball. I was like a kid in a sweet shop full of colours and patterns and have spent the last nine years growing up with the brand.

Where do you take inspiration from when developing new colours?

Creating new colours is a meticulous and timely process – from the initial research to launching the new colours can take over a year – ensuring that each new colour really earns its place on our colour card.

When developing new colours, we speak to our global colour consultants, showrooms and customers to help us to identify the colours our customers would most like to see join the card. We also look at long term decorating trends to choose the right colours to add to our palette. We look to develop existing colour families with a lighter of darker new tone. For example, our versatile new grey, Worsted, now sits perfectly between the softer, Purbeck Stone and the stronger toned Mole’s Breath.

How do you like to decorate at home? Could you tell us about your personal style?

My home is an eclectic mix of contemporary and modern with a restful colour palette backdrop. I spend a lot of time around colour and am always busy so I opted for a simple, restful palette so I could properly relax. 

My bedroom is painted Wimborne White which is a great backdrop for the 8ft high green banana leaf print I have on the wall! The living room is painted in the soothing Dix Blue which is extremely calming and the guest room is a combination of Ammonite and Purbeck Stone.

I also have some bolder colours and patterns, for example I have Lotus 2051 though my hallway. Being a first floor flat, this covers two floors from the bottom of the stairs. For my kitchen, I wanted something a little more dramatic so opted for rich Stiffkey Blue. My bathroom is also painted in Dix Blue and Pavilion Blue but with the addition of a giant pink Aubdon flamingo on the tiles!

What advice would you give to someone experimenting with colour for the first time?

Before choosing a colour scheme it’s important to consider the overall look you are trying to achieve. Do you want an urban or countryside feel? Contemporary colours or something more traditional? Bold colour or soft neutrals? Once you know the look you’d like, consider the architecture and light of the space and choose patterns and colours that work with the room’s features.

Whatever palette you choose, the most important thing to remember is to create a room that you feel comfortable with. Perhaps start with one of your favourite pieces of furniture, a cushion or some fabric and use the colours or style to inspire your decorating scheme. Colour is very personal – it reflects our character as well as creating emotional responses and atmosphere, so it’s important that you select a palette that feels right for you. 

Where and how can you afford to be more playful with colour?

Small spaces can really be brought to life with the use of a statement colour; a cheery colour in a small bathroom or cloakroom is a great way to add surprise and make an otherwise forgotten room more memorable. Try combining unexpected colours like Vardo, Charlotte’s Locks and Rectory Red to add a sense of fun to a space.

Another good tip is to start in the room that you spend the least time in. A rarely used dining room or bathroom are great placed to test a colour palette as it won’t overwhelm you straight away and will give you time to get accustomed to it gradually.  A downstairs cloakroom painted in a bold shade like Pelt, Brinjal or Salon Drab will quickly become a talking point!

As hallways are areas where you don’t spend a lot of time, this can also be a great opportunity to be brave and use a really exciting colour. A dramatic dark shade such as Inchryra Blue in a hallway can instantly make the adjoining rooms seem brighter and bigger, as well as adding real glamour and creating a presence.

We often like to paint with bright colours. Do you have any tips for how to introduce bold shades?

I would always recommend that you start with accents.  Painting a piece of furniture or a photo frame is a brilliant way of introducing colour to a room. Try bright shades like Yeabridge Green, Vardo or Yellowcake. Another way is by adding a piece of art to the walls or some brightly coloured scatter cushions to your sofa. This way, you’ll be able to test how you feel about a certain colour without it feeling so permanent!

Which is your favourite of the new shades for 2016?

That’s such a difficult question as my favourite changes almost every week! However at the moment I’m really drawn to Peignoir, a wonderfully soft shade that proves that pink doesn’t have to be ultra-feminine.

Named after the floaty garment worn by ladies in the mid 20th century, Peignoir has a fantastically romantic feel which is tempered by a big dose of grey, making it very traditional while still being totally on trend. The colour is an obvious bedroom choice but it could work in any modern living area – I would love to use in a kitchen with cabinets painted in Worsted, another of our new colours.

If your paint could be used on any building in the world which would you choose?

I absolutely love the Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design in Berlin, and it would be great to add colour to the exterior of the building using our paint. I would create a mural using bright Bauhaus colours such as Cook’s Blue, Rectory Red and Babouche.

Alternatively it would be really fun to find a high rise building with 132 floors and paint each storey a different Farrow & Ball colour!