Interiors advice: Here’s what a paint colour consultation actually involves

Picking a paint colour scheme for the home is no mean feat, with so many options available to choose from.

Luckily, you can now hire a colour consultant to help you out – someone like Patrick O’Donnell, Farrow & Ball’s own Brand Ambassador and colour consultant, who has spent a decade mastering the brand’s colour range and options. Charlotte Page (@stylingyourhome), speak to Patrick to find out exactly what a colour consultation involves.

colour consultation

Hi Patrick, so lovely to speak with you today. For anyone who hasn’t heard of colour consultancy, how would you simply put it? 

The joy of colour consultancy is its simplicity. It is primarily about editing choices to get the perfect colour for each room in your home – much like an interior design service, but this specialises solely in paint and wallpaper. It essentially removes the stress for anyone overwhelmed by colour choice. Consultants know their palettes inside out and can recommend colours that work in the space, light, and empathetically fit with all your current elements – from existing sofas, curtains and even artwork! It is also great for creating ideas outside the box.

What can you tell us about the way you approach each project and why it works so well? 

We have two colour consultancy platforms to choose from – either a virtual session where you receive a questionnaire before the appointment to understand your preferences and requirements, or an in-home appointment where you receive a phone call before the meeting. This first step is essential for the consultant to prepare and understand your needs before you meet them. For the appointment, we go from room to room with you (up to four rooms an hour depending on the complexity of each room) and discuss options for every surface – even the exterior. We will discuss how the colours respond to natural light and make sure the correct finishes are specified. Once the appointment is complete you receive a specification of all colours and finishes for each room.

colour consultation

If someone is struggling to decide on colour how would the steps you take help boost a client’s confidence?

Your home is a deeply personal space. After the past two years, many people have reconsidered how they want to live in their homes, and sometimes this means being more adventurous with colour.

I always encourage a client to share any images they are drawn to – the world is rich in information and inspiration now with Pinterest, Instagram, and print. We will talk through how colours respond to light, how to bring warmth into a room that often feels chilly and even try and push (not always) a client out of their comfort zone. For example, often clients are drawn to some darker shades but are nervous to commit – so I often recommend starting small such as a downstairs loo or home office and ironically these often become the favourite rooms in the home!

The key is to listen to a client and their needs and get an understanding of the ambition from the start and explain how it will feel – most of us are not good at visualisation.

When picking the perfect shade for a space, do you take into consideration the homeowner’s furnishings? Are there any other quirks that you look out for?

For in-home appointments, I look at everything, from existing furniture and fabrics to pictures on the wall and even the colours the client is wearing – these will all give clues to their personal preferences and conscious design decisions. I also look at the exterior or the one seen from the room we are decorating – is it green and open? Urban and built up? these will all influence the style and often have a different aesthetic between countryside and city.

colour consultation

What colours do you feel are the most popular and why coming into the summer months? 

In the last two years, we have changed how we see our homes. We have learnt to embrace colour, moving away from cleaner and cool palettes to bolder tones of green and blue, soft romantic pastels for nostalgia to earthier neutrals for a gentler feel.

Even yellow is emerging again after 20 years in the wilderness – but more subdued, less bright – think ochre/ mustard tones such as India Yellow and Sudbury Yellow – a beautiful option for kitchen cabinetry.

colour consultation

Is there a colour that you are always drawn to that’ll always be in style? 

I do love browner shades (brown works with everything!), but the one colour I use again and again is light blue. It is so restful and elegant but incredibly complex and nuanced, often shifting from mid-blue to green to silvered grey. It is brilliant and a perfect backdrop to both modern and traditional homes.

Thanks Patrick!

Colour consultations cost £195, (£130 for virtual). For more information click here