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8 rules for decorating with Farrow & Ball’s Scandi paint palette

Expert advice from Jannik Martensen-Larsen, the man behind the new ‘The Nordic Edit’ palette

farrow and ball feature
Katrine Kunst

With a list of paint names so iconic they’ve become a common part of dinner party discussions across the globe, and a palette drawn from some of the UK’s most historic buildings, not to mention its idyllic countryside, there’s little else that represents British interior design as broadly as Farrow & Ball.

Just one of the reasons then, why its latest collaboration with Danish design house Tapet-Cafe is quite the stroke of genius. Compiled by Jannik Martensen-Larsen, co-owner of the family-run business, this innovative edit of the paint company’s quintessentially British hues presents them in a fresh, Scandinavian light.

‘At Tapet-Cafe, we’ve always used Farrow & Ball colours a little differently. For many years, I have wanted to create a palette reflective of Scandinavia, which is how “The Nordic Edit” was formed,’ says Martensen-Larsen.

‘What we traditionally see is whites and greys, but there are so many shades around us – in nature, in our colourful cities, and in the wooden houses of the Norwegian countryside, for example. With this edit, the aim was to represent the region, as well as the work of Scandinavian designers and tastemakers.’

farrow and ball piece
Walls painted in ‘Danish Lawn’; ceiling in ‘Chinese Blue’, all Farrow & Ball
Farrow and Ball

‘Bold’, ‘intense’ and ‘courageous’ are all words Martensen-Larsen uses to describe his selection, which comes courtesy of influences as diverse as the red roofs of Copenhagen’s Old Town to the green tones of the city’s Dyrehaven’s deer park.

‘A shade I particularly love is “Serge”, a stunning blue that reminds me of the work of mid-century artists, and my favourite green is “Danish Lawn”, which is so striking,’ he says.

On the flip side, more classic Scandi tones are still represented through shades such as ‘Light Blue’, ‘Strong White’ and ‘Hardwick White’, which are used as neutrals and on woodwork.

‘Tapet-Cafe has captured something for every home and every personality,’ says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball. ‘Scandinavian design has had a big influence on our interior décor choices for such a long time. Jannik has created an incredible aesthetic and has a brilliant eye for colour that we hugely admire at Farrow & Ball.

“The Nordic Edit” is modern and new, but at the same time has such a familiar feeling. It’s a wonderful tool for people to use at any stage of their colour journey.’ farrow-ball.com


8 design rules for decorating with paint

Tapet-Cafe co-owner and curator of Farrow & Ball’s ‘The Nordic Edit’ paint palette Jannik Martensen-Larsen’s top tips for being experimental with colour

1. Create bold contrasts

          At Tapet-Cafe we often experiment with stronger colour pairings such as ‘Danish Lawn’ and ‘Chinese Blue’ and remove white from the scheme altogether

          farrow and ball feature
          Ceiling and upper walls painted in ’Arsenic’, lower walls in ’Mere Green’, all Farrow & Ball
          Katrine Kunst

          2. Add vibrancy to new surfaces

          The ceiling is often ignored but is a great canvas. A shade such as ‘Arsenic’ can be brought down onto the walls to create a wonderful open-sky feeling.

          farrow and ball feature
          Ceiling and upper wall painted in ‘Arsenic’, lower wall in ‘Mere Green’, door in ‘Etruscan Red ’, fireplace in ‘Babouche’, all Farrow & Ball
          Katrine Kunst

          3. Think about dramatic pairings

          Work together colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel for a strong effect.

          farrow and ball feature
          ’Arsenic’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’Mere Green’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’Copenhagen Roof’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’Etruscan Red’
          Farrow and Ball

          4. Play with finishes

          Paint walls and woodwork in a small area, such as a corridor or kitchen, in the same shade in Full Gloss for a unique look that feels a bit arty: ‘Danish Lawn’ and ‘Copenhagen Roof ’ work well.

          farrow and ball feature
          Ceiling painted in ‘Arsenic’, wall in ‘Light Blue’ and window frame and sill in ‘Babouche’, all Farrow & Ball
          Katrine Kunst

          5. Remember to add delicate touches

          Colours that sit well together in nature, such as buttercup yellow, grass green and clear sky blue will also work perfectly in a decorating palette.

          farrow and ball feature
          ’Tunsgate Green’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’Strong White’
          Farrow and Ball

          farrow and ball feature
          ’Babouche’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’Light Blue’ 
          Farrow and Ball

          6. Be courageous with bold hues

          Don’t be afraid to use dark tones, which create drama and atmosphere, and can make a room feel bigger. They’re especially beautiful behind walls full of art: try ‘Railings’ ‘Grate Black’ or ‘Monkey Puzzle’

          farrow and ball feature
          Wall painted in ‘Railings’, skirting painted in ‘Strong White’, both Farrow & Ball
          Katrine Kunst

          7. Add a sense of fun with details in accent shades

          Try a soft tone like ‘Potted Shrimp’ in a window niche, for example, offset against a wall in a darker shade such as ‘Serge’.

          farrow and ball scandi shades
          Walls painted in ’Serge’, window recess and woodwork in ’Potted Shrimp’, both Farrow & Ball
          Farrow and Ball

          8. Consider the balance of darkness and light

          Introduce muddier tones with paler hues, this will prevent classically 'pretty' shades looking childish.

          farrow and ball feature
          ’Railings’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’Serge’
          Farrow and Ball

          farrow and ball feature
          ’Potted Shrimp’
          Farrow and Ball
          farrow and ball feature
          ’School House White’
          Farrow and Ball

          This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration April 2021

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