Farrow & Ball Decorating With Colour by Ros Byam

As I was writing the section of the book entitled ‘Dark Drama’, it occurred to me that it was about time I took my own advice. We have a ‘small and badly-lit’ inner hall and it was painted white. Surely we were missing an opportunity by not painting it something deliciously dusky instead? As soon as I thought of it, I couldn’t wait. We got our hands on some ‘Mahogany’ Estate Eggshell the same weekend and set to work. And, just as I had promised, the result was exciting and theatrical. Anything placed against it took on a new vibrancy, whether the self-portrait our daughter painted for an art examination or the plaster relief that had been languishing unappreciated on a windowsill. The hall has a faint air of mystery, and it still gives me a thrill every time I walk through it.

This small inner hall is lit by a tiny window cut into an ancient back door and borrowed light from the kitchen, entrance hall, downstairs cloakroom, and drawing room that all lead off it. Recently we decided to paint it dark ‘Mahogany’, which has made the experience of passing through it far more exciting and its contents look far more interesting.


Several years ago, we changed the colour of the large entrance hall from ‘Fowler Pink’ to ‘Saxon Green’, which has now become an archive colour. The woodwork is ‘White Tie’, a creamy white that seems to suit the age of the house. Through the doorway, the matchboard panelling is ‘Mahogany’.

We inherited a scheme of blue and cream in this room, which we have repainted using ‘String’ and ‘Cook’s Blue’. The Aga dates back to the 1940’s.

 Lining paper covered the wall at this end of the kitchen and the mottled remains of old layers of paint underneath were so pretty that we have left them. The matchboard panelling is painted in ‘String’. The fitted dresser is painted in ‘Mouse’s Back’.

The 16th-century fireplace in this bedroom had been blocked in when a later flue from a fireplace in the room below was cut through its back. The walls are ‘String’, a colour we have used extensively in the house, as it complements the local Beer stone of the fireplaces that are a feature of almost every room.

Extract from: Farrow & Ball Decorating with Colour by Ros Byam Shaw, photography by Jan Baldwin, published by Ryland Peters & Small.