How to decorate like a designer – Choosing paint

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Are All Whites created equal? Part 1 (For regular design tips SUBSCRIBE using the link on the right!)

White, its a bit of All White, or Pointing, or Slipper Satin or Skimming Stone for that matter.

These are all colours from the Farrow and Ball colour chart which sits steadfastly in my work bag like a bible.

I am an addict. There are a few of us. The names of these colours become a secret language between me and my design addicted friends. 

But the addiction stops there. I only ever come close enough to sniff the visions that these colours evoke, not a drop of designer paint passes my sample brush. But why?

There are several reasons, let me explain.

A lot of my projects are holiday lets, and with a multitude a families, children and suitcases bouncing off the walls with holiday enthusiasm, the paint has to be robust. Farrow and Ball has a wonderfully chalky finish that I could never replicate with a Trade paint and it definitely has a place in residential homes where the walls can be personally cared for, but most of my projects need something more, so I pimp the colours out to a commercial supplier.

Yes, I sell my decorating soul. 

However, putting the beautiful soft and delicate chalky finishes of F&B aside, their colour chart still provides a menu of assuredly tasty options, and this is where all my paint decisions are made. There are other designer paint suppliers available, some with larger palettes, but I have studied F&B for nearly a decade and the harder you study something the better you get to know it. When it comes to colour there are literally infinite variations and sometimes it can be much easier to get it wrong than get it right. 

There are other business related reasons that I use a trade supplier of course, they offer free delivery, even with single  sample colours in tiny pots, which helps when business is hectic. Choosing trade paint maintains good relations with my decorators. Speak designer paint to your decorator and see his face fall. I think this has more to do with coverage than anything else but trade paints are designed with trade in mind so this keeps the team happy, which makes my life more enjoyable! Lastly, and the magic ingredient in this proven system, is that the Trade Supplier can match any colour I choose to sample. 

There are HUGE benefits to this. Have you ever picked up a sample book, chosen the PERFECT colour, bought the sample and realised that the computer generated image, the sample swatch and the actual paint are all completely different!? I learnt this the hard way on my first job when I went through about 40 pots of F&B sample paints in an attempt to find the right colour ‘white’.

Using the F&B colour chart as my bible, the colour swatch can be exactly (or near enough) replicated. This makes life a LOT more simple. Of course, it is always essential to order a sample pot first before paying to have a bespoke colour mixed and you need to use this pot on ALL walls in the room to check how the light affects its vibrancy as huge mistakes can be made otherwise. 

Lastly and most importantly F&B offer a colour description on their website. Without this important background information you will never know that Blackened will look a beautiful soft grey in shaded light but during the day will take on a slightly pale blue colour – which if you really didn’t want pale blue is an incredibly important tip-off!

So, are all whites created equal? Hell, no but provided you stick to the following steps you are more likely to get the right colour for your project.

  1. Choose a designer paint supplier with a small range of colours and an informative background description
  2. Select a colour 
  3. Obtain a sample pot, mixed by a trade supplier, and test on all the walls, with two coats.
  4. Try to assess the colour without comparing it to the existing wall or ceiling colour as this can influence your perception
  5. Paint your room using these simple decorating techniques

Next on the decorating agenda

Part 2 – How to choose the right paint colour and decorate like a designer


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