Slightly moody and never obvious, the best paint colors in the UK look as if they were created against the soft gray light of the British Isles. In addition to longtime favorite Farrow & Ball, here are five English paint lines that are on our radar right now.
Above: Little Greene is a paint manufacturer founded in 1773 as the Little Greene Dye Works of Collyhurst Wood, on the outskirts of Manchester. Known for depth of color, Little Greene paints have a complex pigmentation that provides character and definition. The company’s water-based paints have a low-VOC rating, and its oil-based paints are made with sustainable vegetable oil. US dealers can be found here.
Above: Founded in 1960, by Robert Baty and currently owned by his son, Patrick, Paper and Paints of London specializes in color palettes for historic buildings, including Kensington Palace. Mixing paints from Little Greene (see above), they create colors to match traditional settings. In the US, they’ve worked with institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Colonial Williamsburg foundation.
Above: Ecos Organic Paints are water-based and free of all solvents, VOCs, and toxins. When the Louvre had some touching up to do on walls near the Mona Lisa, Ecos was selected. Odor and fume free, the brand has also been singled out as ideal for allergy sufferers. Ecos Organic Paints are available online in the United Kingdom and in the United States. Go to Remodeling 101, to learn All You Need to Know About VOCs in Paint. Photograph by Joanna Henderson.
Above: Another small, eco-friendly paint company, Earthborn, has developed Claypaint, a special clay-based formula with an ultra-matte finish that absorbs and softens the light in the room. Earthborn paint is available only in Europe.
Above: UK kitchen outfitters Plain English (see today’s Steal This Look) teamed up with interior designer Adam Bray to develop a collection of 12 colors that are bolder than what is typically associated with the company’s understated, Georgian-inspired designs. With names such as Dripping Tap, Draughty Passage, and Scullery Latch, the palette (available in eggshell, gloss, and matte) is inherently English. The collection is exclusive to Plain English clients. See more in Bespoke Color from an Accidental Decorator.
Above: The best known of the English paint lines, and the one most available in the US, Farrow & Ball was founded by John Farrow and Richard Maurice Ball in Wimborne Minster, Dorset in the 1930s. Several years ago, Farrow & Ball developed a new, water-based formula for its paints, reducing the solvents in its products to low and zero VOC. Colors are derived from natural pigments as well as other natural ingredients, such as china clay, lime putty, and linseed oil. And the company doesn’t use harmful ingredients like ammonia or formaldehyde.
Choosing paint colors can be daunting; browse the designer-vetted colors in our Palette & Paints series, which includes:
Go to Gardenista for advice on Exterior Paints.