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My Life Laid Flat

The Seductive Paint Chart - tales of a painter




When I start working on a project, the building blocks of the design start on my table - the images of the project, samples, fabrics and of course, paint charts. Fanning them out so I can see the range. Comparing and contrasting.

I have my favourites, such as Farrow & Ball, Little Green Paint Company and Paint & Paper Library, to name a few but a launch of new colours always brings a level of excitement and coming across a new paint chart fills me with anticipation.

Whilst visiting 100% Design last year, I spotted the simple elegance of the Argile display and was drawn to it like a siren. Unfortunately my French wasn't strong enough to converse with the lovely rep but I came away with a bundle of beautifully packaged paint charts and information. Inspired by the colours of the earth, their colours are beautifully harmonious and certainly sit well on my table - always a good sign.







I was seduced by this gorgeous Ellis paint chart on instagram and when it arrived a few days later it was a case of "Oh hello....." (not in a Charles Hawtrey way , more Terry Thomas)

The Ellis paint palette from Atelier Ellis has hand painted swatches which gives a true depiction of the colour. A beautiful collection of 62 harmonious, calm colours which I'm really looking forward to using.

For environemental reasons they will provide A4 & A3 swatches rather than sample pots which sounds like the way forward which hopefully other companies will follow.


I have always loved paint, prising open a new tin and having to poke my finger in is a must, and so it seemed natural to be an interior decorator whilst studying interior design. Although I loved the painting, I wasn't particularly a natural balanced on a scaffold board over a stairwell, but my inner ballet dancing skills came to the fore this was purely in my dreams as I was never allowed to go to ballet but pranced around in some hand-me-down block shoes which I adored.


I really enjoyed seeing peoples reactions once a room had been completed or not quite completed as one couple found as they closed the window shutters to their sitting room only to find the original colour sat neatly hidden behind the shutter door....and happily painted peoples homes for a number of years.

There is one time that even now, 20 years on, I will not forget.

Now let me build the picture here. We're talking a stunning modernist home in Highgate, North London designed by Harley Sherlock in the early 1960's. I was there to paint a bedroom, simple enough apart from the cork tiles that had been fixed directly to the wall which literally reduced me to tears trying to remove.

So, I talked through the job spec., prepped and was left to it.

One of the beautiful features of these houses is the use of wood. Flooring, kitchen units, cupboards, doors. There's a lot of wood. So when I was asked to paint the inside of the bedroom door, thoughts ran through my head 'hell's teeth ! I certainly wouldn't do that - sacrilege! But not having a voice at that time and being eager to please - I started rubbing down the door.

I loved to decorate with a list. Each job carefully listed in order of attack if only to have the pleasure of crossing it off.

I actually didn't get around to crossing the door off the list as at that point, my client came home. "How're you getting on?" she called. I called down " just priming the door". "Which door?" I heard footsteps coming up stairs. Not enough bloody stairs unfortunately - I could've done with considerably more to give me time to process the sense of panic I was feeling. Yep - whatever I heard in the job description did not translate into my notes. I'd messed up. Now Mrs. Client was surprisingly understanding but she did warn me of Mr.Client who was considerably uptight and happened to be an architect. Kill me now.

I couldn't tell where my sweating brow ended and the bucket of water began as I was frantically washing off the primer before it dried. I did it. And gently caressed the wood back to a forgiven state. Mr. Client was never told and I continued to paint other areas of the house. They since got divorced but thats another story.....



Years later, whilst working on a long project, I arrived on site to find this wonderful paint chart from the BBC Good Homes Show 2002. It had been left for me from my client who thought I might find it useful and it now has a permanent place on my display board. It makes me laugh and personally, I love 'Call this a colour?' and yes, I would. It's the colour of exquisitely tired french work wear. The colour of the perfect hamam towel stripe and, if I'm honest a considerable percentage of my wardrobe. " I think i'll look at introducing a new colour into my wardrobe.... yeah right.


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