Painting Rooms, Rather Than Nails


Happy August!

Firstly, I just want to say that I don’t work for Farrow & Ball or anything: I just had a great experience with their paint!

If you’re into interior design at all (which I’m not! I just like to look at the magazines), you’ll definitely have heard of this British paint company. It was founded in 1946, and spent much of its early years making paints for Ford in the UK, and the British War Office. By the time the 90s rolled around, Farrow & Ball had established itself by making paints for the National Trust for restoring historical buildings to their original colors. Today, Farrow & Ball is probably best known for its library of elegant paint colors that each have interesting histories behind them. The paint names are also appealing in a very British way: Mouse’s Back, Elephant’s Breath, and Cat’s Paw are some of their more popular shades. Not to worry, they are not all named for animal parts! There are others like Calamine, Downpipe, and Churlish Green.

I’m currently in the process of finishing up my half-assed paint job in our home. I sort of did part of it when we first moved in, then many things conspired to delay the completion of the job: work, side projects, having a kid, and my unstoppable urge to become a world-class procrastinator.

I’m happy to say that now, two-thirds of the way into summer, I’m getting closer to being done!

First, I’m going to explain why we wanted to paint. You see, the entire place was done up in colors very similar to these:

Farrow & Ball paint in Hay and Fawn
Farrow & Ball Paints in Hay and Fawn. Image:

Except the paint used was of significantly lesser quality than Farrow & Ball, and the painter was an even more atrocious painter than I am. I mean, they painted over the door hinges.

Implied facepalm, Tommy Lee Jones
Implied facepalm. (Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men)

Now, there’s not really anything wrong with these colors, except that I am not really a beige person, and I prefer not waking up to walls the color of baby poop (that’s you, Hay).

So, once DH was on board with painting up the place, I did a lot of research to find out what paint I should use.

I ended up choosing Farrow & Ball for three reasons:

  1. Their colors are stunning. In person, the difference is really noticeable. We used some nice Pratt & Lambert paints in our old place and loved the performance and look, but Farrow & Ball is a step above.
  2. Low-VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in their eco-friendly water-based paint. It’s like there are no fumes at all.
  3. We don’t have a car, so it’d be a massive pain to go buy several cans of paint and primer. Luckily, Farrow & Ball was the only brand/store I found that offered paint delivery at a reasonable price, within Canada. Sold!

I ordered a bunch of samples from Farrow & Ball and painted up canvas-wrapped boards from Dollarama to see which colors we liked best. These are the nine that made our my shortlist:

Farrow & Ball paint in Hay and Fawn
Farrow & Ball Paints in Cooking Apple Green, Blue Ground, Arsenic, Farrow’s Cream, Dix Blue, Charlotte’s Locks, Calluna, Pelt, and Drawing Room Blue. Image:

And, because this is, first and foremost, a nail polish blog:

Farrow & Ball paint in Dix Blue
Farrow & Ball Paints in nail polish.

(By the way, Avon NailWear in Jade is actually a better match for Arsenic than Illamasqua Nomad is, but I couldn’t find a nice official product image. I need to re-swatch it for you guys; it’s one of my all-time favorite greens!)

Our open concept living area and hallways are now more or less Dix Blue, which changes shades beautifully depending on the lighting. It’s soft and a little moody in dim light, placid in medium light, and quietly cheerful in sunlight.

Farrow & Ball paint in Dix Blue
Farrow & Ball Paint in Dix Blue, late afternoon light.

The master bedroom is painted in Calluna, a compromise between girly and…not girly. It’s just lavender enough in sunlight, for a feminine touch, but in less than bright lighting, it’s so heathery that it tends to look more grey than anything else. It’s incredibly restful and goes well with the nearly black, espresso-colored furniture that the husband favors. Men actually like to compliment this paint color when they see it.

Farrow & Ball paint in Calluna
Farrow & Ball Paint in Calluna. Bonus: baby asleep with butt in the air.

I’d ideally also like to do the master bath in Pelt (which is not quite as dark as it looks in the swatch, especially in a brightly lit room), perhaps just one wall of the baby’s currently stark white room in Blue Ground, and the kitchen in either Cooking Apple Green or Farrow’s Cream.

The main bathroom needs renovation, so there will be no painting there for a while. It’s currently that Fawn color, but shiny. Eww. (Incidentally, I went with the Modern Emulsion finish—mostly matte, 7% sheen—for Dix Blue and the Estate Emulsion finish—matte—for Calluna, and both are lovely and not terribly difficult to clean.) I’d love to do the bathroom in Arsenic Green or Charlotte’s Locks, but nobody else seems to dig those! I guess green would not really make you look good in the bathroom mirror, but orange would, right?! Ah well. Might have to go safe in there. Sigh.

What paint colors do you live with? What color would you recommend for a (windowless) bathroom?


10 thoughts on “Painting Rooms, Rather Than Nails

  1. This was so interesting to read! I’ve never had to choose paint in my life and it sounds like such a daunting task. Unlike painting your nails, you can’t just change your mind about the colour! (well, you CAN, but it’s costly and time consuming) And wow, they deliver paint? That’s amazing. 🙂
    Hahahaaa. LOVE the coordinating nail polishes to the paint colours!!! (and oooh Avon NailWears are SO good. I’m so sad I don’t have an Avon lady at work anymore!)
    I love the shade Calluna, therefore I shall now seek out Essie St. Lucia Lilac! 😀
    What about Farrow’s Cream for the bathroom?
    Was Peanut helping or hindering in the painting process… lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I just had to do the matching nail colors. It took me an hour to do that. ;D

      I used to just order Avons online, but they won’t let you do that anymore! I tried to sign up with an Avon sales rep online, but they assigned me a sort of, I don’t want to be mean and say “creepy”, so how about “distinctly un-Avon-ly” looking middle-agd man. I just wasn’t comfortable with that. So yeah, I haven’t gotten any Avon stuff in years.

      I don’t even have St. Lucia Lilac! I have to remedy that sometime 🙂

      Farrow’s Cream might work well for the bathroom! Like Jodi/Brash Attitude said in her comment, I will probably just go with white/cream. It’d be pretty fun to be able to dress up the bathroom with acccessories 🙂

      Painting is so much fun (picking colors, seeing the transformation) but also a massive chore! Next time I move, I’ll pay someone else to do it, haha. But the reason I waited was because I wanted to live in the place a bit to see how that affected my color choices. Then once we were moved in, furniture was in place and it got difficult to finish the paint job. :/

      Peanut stayed in his playpen and watched kiddie shows. He’s transfixed by My Neighbor Totoro!


  2. Our entire condo was painted in a flat beige-y colour. A light sucking flat paint that marks and scuffs so easily. We have been gradually painting room by room. So far, the office space is a light blue (a closer description would be a blue toned white), the windowless bathroom is satin finish white, with the mirror and storage a matte white (all the color is in the towels and shower curtain), and our bedroom is a light, bright yellow that really brightens up our dark furniture. We still have to paint our livingroom, and the open loft style half of the place (which runs from the front door through our library / reading nook, through the dining room and kitchen at the back) – that is going to be a daunting job.
    I love looking at paint and decor ideas and I especially love that you linked it up with nail polish! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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