Farrow and Ball paint (hereafter referred to as F&B) is a hotly debated topic among interior enthusiasts. Do you or don’t you colour match is up there with the do you dye your hair/do you eat carbs/do you eat organic debate Lol.
Its certainly one to ponder when you come to decorate as opinion is so divided that it can be difficult to know what to do and which camp to set your tent (Down Pipe coloured of course) up in.
No other paint manufacturer could hope to have paint colours so famous that you can literally just refer to them by name- “yeah its Down Pipe” and we know what paint it is.
The big debate centres on cost and the do you/don’t you colour match question. Indeed I recently read a whole article centred on the use of F&B colours in a house- it then transpired that no actual F&B paint had been used at all- it was all a colour match!
Despite all the strong arguments against F&B (poor coverage, expensive, painters hate it etc) I remain a firm lover of all paints F&B. Sure I’ve tried colour matching – I’ve bought the cheaper brand then spent time worrying that it wouldn’t look exactly like FB- and I was right it didn’t and I ended up
painting the proper F&B colour I had wanted in the first place- so yes F&B is expensive if you go down the route that I did Lol.
I hate to say this especially if you are having the argument with yourself right now – but you really can tell the difference between a colour matched paint and a true F&B paint.
To truly understand why its impossible to totally replicate an F&B paint its important to understand why F&B is different and why you are paying so much more money for your paint.
Paint is basically made up of chalk, china clay and titanium dioxide with water. Pigments are then added to achieve a depth of colour. In the case of F&B paint these pigments are very rich allowing them to achieve a real depth of deep colour. This richness of pigment and quality of ingredients is why it reacts so strongly to light through the day, really bringing your walls to life. F&B has a depth of colour that just cant be achieved with a cheaper less pigmented paint, meaning that your walls just cant achieve the true F&B colour-it can achieve the basic colour but not the life and depth that those rich pigments bring and that is what makes the paint colour unique.
In order to really get it you need to try it. Take my challenge, paint one room of your house in F&B and tell me that you don’t love it every time you walk in. My dining room is painted in Cornforth White and the depth of colour, the images that it conjures, the light that plays on the walls with this paint are just incredible.
Then take a look at my lounge. The Mole’s Breath on the walls is light during the day with a very obvious mid grey tint but as we settle in the
evening it takes on a darker tone making the lounge feel cosy and warm, almost giving a cocoon effect. The previous grey colour on the same wall was drab and lifeless. both were grey but a million miles away in terms of colour richness. F&B paint has a lovely chalky finish that just feels timeless and elegant. In fact it feels expensive and gives a real high end look to your room from the get go. So – despite all strong arguments to the contrary – I remain a F&Baholic.
I can’t do a post on F&B colours without mentioning the names. The names that all true interior obsessives know as keenly as they know their own kids names. But you would be mistaken if you thought that the names were just plucked out of the air in a bid to be controversial. Take a proper look at any F&B colour card and you will see that there is a real meaning behind every colour name.
So for instance, Plummett although noted as a strong grey, gets its name from the lead used by fishermen to weight their lines, French Gray despite the name has more of a green tinge than grey and is so named after the colours of 19th century wallpapers used in France. The next time you pick up an F&B colour chart try taking a look the descriptors on the back of the card, it’s a fascinating read and really helps to bring the paint to life.
For me staying loyal to F&B means I truly get the colour I’ve spent weeks fretting over, I get walls that feel alive and evoke an atmosphere, sophistication in my lounge and rustic french country in my dining room.
One last word of caution though when using F&B paints, don’t always trust what it says on the tin, Cornforth White isn’t really white and French Gray isn’t really grey- unless of course you catch it at a certain time of day in a certain light and then for a split second it feels white (or grey) give it some time however and another colour all together emerges, and for me that is the beauty of F&B paint in a nutshell (or an iconic brown tin).