I’ve always been a big fan of the chalky colours from Farrow and Ball, and loved the white and greys from Little Greene paint company, but then again I’ve always lived in huge old houses where these paints made sense, and where dark colours add drama.
I was excited to finally be able to buy grown up paint and the first day we got the keys I rushed to buy paint samples as my first priority.
I knew I wanted whites and greys in most places, (something that many of my friends have rolled their eyes at: ‘Of course the girl who only wears black won’t decorate using any colour!’)
The choice of paint in those colours is, surprisingly limitless, and a bit overwhelming. Once you factor in the choices to be made regarding brands, and the joys of navigating what you need from the gloss, silk, matt, emulsion, specialist kitchen or bathroom paint options it’s all, frankly, enough to make you decide redecorating is too much of a chore.
So, choosing not to be overwhelmed, I went straight for the Farrow and Ball aisle. These are the only paints my mum will use in her house, so I know them, I’ve painted with them, and despite the price I have always understood why people buy them.
I’d seen Cornforth White by Farrow and Ball used a few times on Pinterest and it looked like a lovely white-grey that would help open up the space (which was originally painted in four shades of magnolia and coffee…!)
As I carefully painted 10 inch squares of each little tin onto my living room wall I became acutely aware of something: these heritage colours make little sense in my new-ish flat.
Cornforth White, which looked a delightful pale grey in the pot, turned into a hideous brown when painted in my living room. Ammonite (another Farrow and Ball) turned out to be a creamy yellow. Little Green paints fared no better, and their French Grey looked less grey and more green on the walls of my poor little (increasingly cramped looking ) abode.
It turns out these colours, made for gorgeous victorian terraces with bay windows and high ceilings, just don’t make sense in flats like mine. Their chalky matt finishes absorb the light instead of bouncing it around, leaving the colours looking twelve shades darker than intended.
So, sadly, I came to terms with the fact my carefully selected paint choices just wouldn’t work — instead of lifting my flat into an interior designer’s dream, they left it cramped and light-less.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the paints – my sister’s bedroom at my parent’s is painted in Cornforth White and looks beautiful and serene, which is one of the reasons I’d earmarked it for myself. I just don’t think they work outside of their intended environment.
Cue panic number 458768393746 in the house purchase/renovation… WHAT DO I PAINT ON THE WALLS?
On a impulse dash to homebase Mr Harriet and I raided the shelves of their white tester pots… You can see the test colours along the right-hand side wall in the photo below, there’s about 6 different squares of white that are barely distinguishable, but the Farrow and Ball ‘whites’ look brown.
Originally we narrowed it down to the three below, the one in the middle is virtually indistinguishable from the wall behind it, but it’s actually got quite a nice grey tint to it that we quite like. The one on the right is called ‘soothing white’ but actually is more of a blue-grey and the paint on the left is ‘Absolute White’ from Dulux’s Light & Space range. It looks nice and fresh but it was actually really hard to paint, and I’m a bit afraid that it might end up like a gloss white, yellowing over time.
Still unconvinced we went to Homebase again and…
…we found a winner!
It’s called Moonlight White from Homebase’s Home of Colour selection and, believe it or not both paint samples above show it, one just has a second coat on that’s still drying, so it ends up looking more like the white on the right, but you can see it has some nice grey tones.
It’s clearly not the most popular choice as it doesn’t even come in 5L pots (a bit annoying when we have plans to bath the entire house in it)… but the more I look at it the more i like it.
It’s fresh and modern without being too cold and stark, it’s cheaper than Farrow and Ball by a long shot, and it’s a nice change from black.