‘Colour and I are One’


‘Colour and I are One’. So said Paul Klee, one of the most exciting artists of the 20th Century. Certainly colour can provoke a strong emotional reaction, and this will be on a daily basis when used in our homes

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Castle and Sun – Paul Klee

Like so many people, I pore over colour charts and long to possess the shades therein. Choosing one is limiting, yet I also love the commitment of applying paint to wall after all the preparation

When we moved in to our first flat in Eton it was a blank magnolia canvas, so I indulged myself in reds, yellows and oranges. Baz soon joked that the rooms were becoming smaller due to the number of coats of coloured paint I applied. Then we moved to our little house and when Charlotte was born I painted all the walls in soft buttery yellows to be warm and uplifting. Sixteen years down the line I have replaced pretty much all of this, always happy to have an excuse to re-decorate. Repeatedly. Eventually the novelty wore off and RSI started to set in, and so our hallway still remains unfinished in one corner

I love the brights, but of course there are some wonderfully subtle yet highly pigmented shades, muddied and grounded by earth tones. These have been championed by the rather smug middle-class heritage paint producers, who seem to have plucked them out of an imagined past, charging us a premium for having given them their ancestry and poetic names (‘Elephant’s Breath’, ‘Mole’s Breath’,’Mouse’s Back’ etc.)

As for ‘Cats Paw’? – if I had a cat with paws that colour I would not expect it to come back from the vet…

A member of the family, a professional carpenter and decorator who can recognise the exact F and B shade painted on a wall, tells me that these colours can be reliably matched as trade paints way more cheaply and with higher quality paint, and that when someone asks for a particular F and B paint colour he uses a matched Leyland trade paint and his customers are very happy. So this is something I plan to research. It may be a disappointment, but I have to check it out because regrettably I have to take care of the pennies on the French house. And because it really appeals to my inner ‘Belligerent Bitch’ (which would no doubt be an intense blood-red on the chart)

Does anyone out there have any experience they can share of this matching service?




Author: poshbirdy

Art deco/ art nouveau maniac enjoying a deep and meaningful relationship with alcohol

11 thoughts on “‘Colour and I are One’”

  1. I love colour too and our house has gone through several incarnations over the years (not to mention the previous houses but we’ve lived in this one the longest). I used to do all my own interior painting too but last time I got this wonderful painter and decorator (and his son) who came originally from the North East of England. He was brilliant and saved me from an expensive blunder in one of the bedrooms – I gave him the wrong paint pot and he had the good sense to query it, which I’m sure not everyone would have done. I believe with modern technology paint matching is very accurate these days. Having said that I have always found you get what you pay for with paints – I’ve used some more expensive ones and been really happy with the results. Good luck with whatever you decide to do! 🙂

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  2. Dead Salmon and Arsenic were always my favourite names for F&B paints. Together they would be called Evocation of Hell. I’m really interested in what your relly says by the way and will check out these trade paints you refer to. I do know that mixing paint oneself is an answer (Gill and I have talked about this before) and that France has a terrible reputation for bad paints but I also know (as again Gill references) that it is not all as bad as it was. What I really need to say is though HAVE FUN with it …. you are clearly a girl who loves to paint and play with colour and I have no doubt at all that your innate sense of style and chic will shine through. I look forward to seeing your choices emerge and to trawling some tips along the way 🙂

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  3. In the States we only have white paint which is then mixed into various shades. Sherwin Williams is our choice but Chalk Paint might be available from the UK? The only downside to the mixing is that no matter the precise equation it never turns out to be the exact shade if you get another can mixed. This might be because of our very extreme weather conditions – freezing to roasting all with humidity. Our whole house is shades of putty – there is so much sunshine that beige feels fine. 🙂

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  4. Well, I have found some decent cheap matte trade paints in France that are not too heavy in acrylic content so are microporous to a degree. I now mix almost all my own colours using various pigments and colourisors to get what I want. Cheap and under my control.

    I have researched paint shades appropriate for various periods and they inevitbaly work in the right date of house or room, but you must love your colours or they won’t work for you anyway.
    I love some of these heritage paint shades and have used them in UK but I balk at the prices they command.If I can get a discount, then OK.

    My Father, as a grandson and nephew of painters & decorators swore by Leyland paints. I would not use a damp inhibitor paint because the walls won’t breathe , but I can understand that if you have an area you just can’t cure, that would be the way to go.

    Use the colours that you love and your heart will sing every time you see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you are right about the damp inhibitor. One of the colours I have chosen (the hallway) is way too subtle to even try to copy,but I love that you mix your own colours. I would really struggle with that as any mistake I make will be huge!

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  5. I’ve never had an F & B paint matched myself but heard from others it’s just not the same. Although if you didn’t know, would you guess? Aside from the colour, I thought one of the advantages of using the ‘heritage’ paints was the pigments they use in the paint which aren’t synthetic as in trade paints and more sympathetic to older houses in particular. For instance, F & B say they have used the same basic recipes since the 1930s and still produce distempers and even lead paints for grade I and grade II listed buildings. I think, for instance, some of their paints have natural damp inhibitors in them. Whatever you decide to do, don’t use French paint – it’s all expensive and bloody awful.

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