“When I walk into a house, it’s all about the feeling and what our client is going to feel comfortable with and as I was walking towards the house I was thinking all about soft greens. That’s what it sort of feels like this lovely country home should have.” Joa Studholme, Colour Curator at Farrow & Ball
Kemps House is the UK home of Maker&Son, but it’s a very special home to our founder, Alex Willcock. Thanks to the opening of our Sussex Showroom next door, Alex has been able to reclaim some of his personal space and put his heart into some of the rooms that have been a little bit overlooked as family space.
We had originally planned to just paint Song’s (Alex’s daughter) bedroom and we looked to the colour expertise of renowned heritage paint company, Farrow&Ball. With the help of their colour consultancy service and the extraordinary talent of Colour Curator Joa Studholme. Inspiration flowed from the moment that Alex and Joa met and walked through the house, and the original ‘let’s re-decorate Song’s room’ plan was thrown aside and we set about creating a beautiful path from the front door up the stairs and down the hall to Song’s bedroom.
One of the things that Joa remarked was so extraordinary was the feeling of coming up the path at Kemps House - 'which is so beautiful with the surrounding trees, stone wall, twig gate and then the shapes of the topiary really inviting you in'. With the right colour, some of that drama could continue as you enter the front door. If the porch could close inwards it would feel more enveloping, which would then make the living room feel bigger and lighter. So, the colour she chose for the front porch is Farrow & Ball Chine Green, an earthy dark black green from the Archive Collection. Taking its name from steep sided coastal gorges, it beautifully plays back the surrounding foliage and provides a dramatic pause before entering the living room
Having talked about Alex’s favourite colours amongst his furniture - the warm and earthy Bronzite Brown Italian Linen - Joa paused as she noticed a bookcase. Brimming with memories and of course, books, she suggested including Farrow & Ball Wet Sand, a rich caramel-hued Archive Collection neutral known for its ability to create spaces that invite and welcome the eyes. Just a hint of grounding colour behind the many book covers reminds the viewer that colour helps tell a story too..
Having made such a dramatic entrance into the central Living Room, it felt only right to continue the impact on the walk up the grand but very welcoming staircase. It seems to have been made for gazing, whether out the enormous back window or at the little vignettes, mementos and family photos that Alex has artfully arranged leading to the bedrooms upstairs. Farrow & Ball Treron was a natural choice to continue the path, leading up but also balancing the existing bedroom colours in the main hallway.
At the top of the stairs, the eyes naturally see the two first rooms - Alex’s bedroom, which has long been painted Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster and Hero’s bedroom in a deep blue. Joa noticed instantly and they both commented, “I love this colour, it works so well” says Alex, “It’s interesting there’s this incredible pink light that comes round.”
Joa says, “I love this colour and it almost feels like it’s giving you a great big hug because at night when there’s not much light it feels like it’s coming round you.”
“I’m thrilled though because having seen walking up the stairs that you have a “Setting Plaster” room at the one end and then you’ve got a blue on the right so actually if we brought some yellow in here it would work beautifully with the green, and since there’s quite alot of green in the house, it will make Song feel more special to have a unique colour.”
There’s a special alcove in the hallway leading into Song’s bedroom, it’s the space between the family bathroom and her room and led Joa to insist upon including Farrow & Ball French Gray in this little space. More green than grey, but characterfully flits between the two depending on the light and time of day and a lovely pause, or bridge, between the deeper Treron leading down the hallway and the bedroom.
“Obviously it has amazing light, but no personality and it desperately needs to be a special place for her,” says Alex.
“It’s a pretty basic place and I want it to have more personality. I love pink and yellow together, it’s quite fun.” Song remarked, in step with her father. “Thinking of the yellow walls, I’d also love to have some nice art as well. For the rest of the furniture I want to keep it quite neutral and muted tones to help the colour come out.”
“...but what makes the room so special is that this room is where my little brother was born 13 years ago,” says Song.
Joa warmed to the idea instantly and developed it further, but cautioned and reminded about the visual impact of the beams in the walls. “The thing that I think about is obviously if you put some colour on the walls you’re going to get quite a wavy line - I never mind about that but some people really do - because it’s very uneven and I think we probably wouldn't put two different colours on the wall because you’ve got alot going on already (with the exposed beams) and you’ve got the dark wood, so perhaps the secondary colour would go on the wooden floor.
“When you see that incredible light in that room it should have some sort of sunshine colour and perhaps we take a much more mutated pink onto the floor,” says Joa. Opting for Farrow & Ball Cinder Rose - a wildy romantic rose pink - for the floors to add to the dusky feel. The aspect that is so compelling to everyone that visits the room is the incredible combination of the dusky pink with smooth lustre in the finish.
“I like the fact that if you’re standing in the corridor something somehow works together and each room is equally weighted,” says Joa. To complete the look, Joa recommended Farrow & Ball Wimborne White for all the skirting, windows and painted woodwork. Only a shade away from pure white, it helps finish and unify the look throughout the house. Offering a little bit of soft yellow in the base to keep the spaces warm, clean and fresh.
Front Porch: Chine Green and Wimborne White.
Living Room & Upstairs Hall: Treron and Wimborne White
Bookshelf: Wet Sand
Song’s Corridor: French Gray and Wimborne White
Floor: Cinder Rose