A tonal tour of Admirals House

Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball author and colour curator, shares her scheme for this striking Barr Group renovation project.

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Anyone who has met Joa, read her books or watched her video blogs, will know that she is utterly passionate about colour and generous in sharing her flair.

A natural chronologist, Joa Studholme feels her way through each project. Putting to use 30 years of experience, she hones in on each client’s aesthetic leanings, the architecture of the property, and the natural light and dimensions of each space. The aim of each colour consultation is to optimise the experience of every room and the transitions between spaces. We were delighted to have the opportunity to chat to Joa about her work, and to dig a little deeper into her colour choices for Admirals House.

Joa was involved, along with the wider project team, at an early stage. "We have worked with her on all of our UK homes”, says Barr Group client, Helene, “Over the last 20 years, projects with her have included a loft conversion in Clerkenwell, the huge gut renovation of a Tarrant home in Surrey and finally here in Cotswolds; three very different properties. We simply couldn’t envision re-creating a home without her colour input.”

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Our clients found Barr Group by way of a recommendation from their architect Edward Tyack, director of the Cotswolds-based studio Tyack Architects. Having previously brought to life Tyack’s vision for Winstone Farm near Chipping Norton, Barr Kitchens director Chris Leigh-Catterall worked closely with the new owners of Admirals House to understand their vision for the kitchen, pantry, and scullery.

From there, James Sutton, Barr Build contracts manager, and site manager Stephen Lindsey, led the renovation project team, delivering Tyack’s design and our client’s vision for the property. The 300-year-old Admirals House was to undergo a complete strip-out, as well as minor remodelling, whilst renovating, preserving, and protecting its character and stunning original features. The aim of the project was not to change Admirals House materially, but to breathe new life into it. The renovation or replacement of plumbing, electricals, the kitchen, bathrooms, as well as several windows and much of the property's flooring, was followed by a complete cabinetry refit and whole-house redress.

“My detailed specification for Admirals House was followed to the letter, which is always pleasing. I worked on the property as a whole, giving cohesiveness and flow to the overall scheme.”
Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball

Our clients, with French and Antipodean backgrounds, having lived for many years in the US, were keen to embrace Admirals House's centuries-old English heritage. This allowed Joa and the Barr Group team to work symbiotically with the house's architecture, cherishing and celebrating its historical features. Farrow & Ball's Slipper Satin, a traditional neutral, to enhance the detailing of architraves, shutters, ceiling roses and mouldings, and in doing so, set the tone for the rest of the scheme.

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From there a subtle but strong colour palette plays with the light and depth of each room's wonderful Georgian proportions. The hall, stairs, and landing walls use French Grey to gently tie the house into its surrounding gardens. From there, one enjoys a graceful transition to the warm earthiness of Jitney in the grand living room and onto the sophisticated De Nimes in the formal dining room. To the back of the house, the walls of the family snug, including its shelving, are seamlessly hugged by Treron, a deeper grey green, creating a seamless drift from the hallway’s French Grey.

The kitchen uses Slipper Satin, along with Old White and Off White, in a carefully thought-out arrangement to work with the natural light and shadows of this central hub. The varied subtle tones play beautifully off the restored old stone walls which bookend the room, and lead the eye to the bolder hues of Smoked Trout and Treron in the pantry and scullery beyond.

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“I particularly like the pantry and boot room, which are boldly painted in Smoked Trout and Treron, respectively. The stronger colours in these 'lesser' spaces feel very authentic and give both rooms real character.”
Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball

Upstairs a large family media room was created through the removal of a clunky partition. Here Joa employed the deep richness of Inchyra Blue on the skirting and up to 1.2 meters, a signature touch, used to cocoon a room when seated but to retain its due gravitas upon entering. The upper walls and ceiling are, of course, a seamless Slipper Satin.

Throughout the bedrooms and bathrooms in the main part of the house, the blues and greens of Pigeon, Mizzle, and Oval Room Blue echo the sky and tree foliage outside. The guest bedrooms in the lower annexed section of the property have lower ceilings and less grand proportions. Here Joa used a single colour on every surface, Old White in one and Setting Plaster in another, to cleverly rid the rooms of boundaries and instantly make them feel bigger.

Joa reflected on her work, stating, "My detailed specification for Admirals House was followed to the letter, which is always pleasing. I worked on the property as a whole, giving cohesiveness and flow to the overall scheme."

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Building upon the original How to Decorate, Joa and the Farrow & Ball creative team's book How to Redecorate reflects the transformative shift in our approach to home decoration over the past decade. The colour bible delightfully showcases a wide range of properties, from compact city apartments to the grand country residence.

Renovating Admirals House with integrity, and for longevity, has been a huge pleasure for the whole Barr Group team. We thank our clients for letting us share their project story and wish them the happiest of times in their beautiful Cotswolds home.

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