The Hunt for the Best White Paint with Farrow & Ball

This is a true story. It starts with a young girl who loved nothing more than to tool around town after school with her mom, popping into their favorite home decor stores and chatting with the proprietors until it was time to go home and fix dinner. Always on their rounds they’d pass the Farrow & Ball store, tucked unassumingly into an 1800’s Victorian row house between a sheet music store and a gourmet bakery, and the girl would pause to stare through the window at the gradient rows of paint and wallpaper samples. Something about those subtle palettes, the colors so few but so intentional, called to her. “One day,” she pledged to herself, “I’ll paint my house with those paints.”

Fast forward twenty years and the girl—yup, we’re talking about me—finally lives in a house worthy of that promise issued all those years ago. The windows are big, the floors bright, and the walls upon moving in simply begged for a fresh coat of the perfect white. So even before we got our keys, I scurried to buy some samples at the Farrow & Ball store in Pasadena (since it would have been quite the trek to go all the way back to the one in Toronto!) Even the sample pots were the thing of dreams, teeny tiny miniatures of the larger cans that line the display shelves so alluringly in-store.

With my airy, minimalist decor inspiration images dancing in my head, I chose four variations on white to try before making a commitment. There was Blackened, which, like its name suggests, is pure white pigment that’s been blackened ever so slightly with a smidge of pure black.  There was Wevet, which is Dorset dialect for a spider’s web, and the color really does have that barely there gossamer quality. (Farrow & Ball was founded and still produces all of its heritage-quality products in Dorset, hence the charming name!) Next was All White, quite literally 100% pure white pigment for a weighty, opaque white. And finally came Strong White, a soft and versatile white with a slight plaster-y vibe to it. In the end I went with Wevet. It feels comforting and cool in the morning light, sophisticated and ever so slightly mauve as the sun goes down, and crisply clean no matter the time of day.

I’ve painted a lot of houses in my day (remember, I’ve been decorating with my mom since I was a kid!) but never have I used paint that went on as beautifully as Farrow & Ball’s does. It makes sense, given that the company uses the highest concentration of pigment and resin binders to produce the brand’s signature depth of color. The paint applies so smoothly and evenly that we completed the whole room in record time—even the ceiling! The icing on the cake was that we did so without a headache, since Farrow & Ball’s eco-friendly formulations have no noxious fumes. This sounds kinda weird, but the paint literally smells like blueberry yogurt!

It seems like such a little thing, but our newly painted walls make me smile so huge every time I walk in the door. The feeling of having fulfilled my teenage design junkie’s goal—with such a beautiful result too!—is utterly satisfying, the perfect resolution to this chapter in my story. Now it’s time to start the next one: Finesse the furnishings, get some art onto the walls, and really turn this house into a home!

Images: Anne Sage.