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Farrow & Ball planters

Yep, it’s been a while. This is because we’ve been having houseguests over, mainly, plus lots of other social activity, and while I’ve been slowed down on the home front, I haven’t been inactive, so now I’m going to play catch-up on the blog. So, I’ll just jump right on in.

If you search for Farrow & Ball paint reviews on the Net, you’ll come up with a lot of professional painters and decorators who can’t stand the stuff, saying it’s over-priced and under-performing, citing non-coverage, complaining that it takes too many coats, making it even more over-priced, and claims that it’s cheaply made, and that it scuffs and marks really quickly, and also that it’s hard to paint with, as it takes an experienced hand with a brush to look it’s best — and you’ll also find a lot of people (including some professional painters) who really, really love Farrow & Ball for it’s richness of formula and color, the way it covers so quickly, how they feel it’s worth every penny, and mentioning that they love the history of the company, with the emphasis on quality and traditional formulations, colors, and finishes.

Needless to say, this is all a bit contradictory.

Lately I’ve been looking at various paints, as I’m preparing to re-decorate the bathroom in our flat, and this is my take on Farrow & Ball.

F&B uses traditional paint formulas, eschewing modern additions of acrylics, plastics, and other non-traditional ingredients. Their pigments are stone ground and naturally occurring, which takes longer to prepare and gives a larger particle of pigment. So far from what I can see, their formulas are not suited to high traffic areas where scuffing and marking are going to be likely, as they don’t use the ingredients that modern companies use to make their paints extra-tough and durable and scrubbable. (The bathroom is not going to be painted in Farrow & Ball. It’ll be Dulux.)

It is indeed a bit tricky to use F&B paints without showing some brush marks, from what I can tell, even for professional painters — make sure you’ve well practiced up on your painting before trying to use F&B with a brush. I haven’t noticed any problems with coverage, myself.

I used F&B All White in their Eggshell Estate Emulsion to paint some planters for the dining room table. The coverage was very good, but it did take three coats because I was so out-of-practice on painting, with sanding in-between coats to cover up my poor brush technique. The paint was lovely and thick. I was going to leave it eggshell-sheeny, but ended up loving the matte look of the next-to-final sanding so much that I left it like that. (The planters are upside down on top of bottles and the kitchen towel roll dispenser, drying.)

I didn’t even come close to using up the 750 ml tin of paint, and tried testing it for the bathroom, as I figured I could use it for the trim, but it marked far too easily when I tested the swatch on the back of the door after three days of drying. (The doors and skirting boards will see lots of hard use, as we have hooks on the back of the door and the trim boards go round the shower enclosure.) So I’ll have to find something else to use the rest of this tin of paint on.

All in all, my advice is that if you’re looking for a really authentically historic look, or if you want fineness of finish, or truly beautiful colors, Farrow & Ball may be for you. It will probably cost you more than most paints. You can get similar colors mixed, but not the depth or fineness of color that you’d get from F&B paints. If what you’re looking for is an economical paint to slap on, cover in one coat, and that will wear hard under hard use, Farrow & Ball is probably not for you.

I potted up some thyme plants (one was mislabeled and seems to be a lemon thyme) into plastic pots that go into the planters. I’ll be cycling them in and out of the tablescape, as I don’t want the plants to spend more than a month on the table without going back outside for sun.

In other news, we’ve discovered more about our flat! We got to talk directly to our landlord, when he came by to put some rugs we weren’t using into storage. This used to be his flat, which is why the chandeliers are so good; his mother got them from hotels in England and France as a gift. The whole complex used to be a B&B, apparently, which explains why we have television and telephone wires running everywhere.¬†What is now our bath used to have a doorway that went into the stairwell between our flat and the flat next door.

We also found a picture of our building from the late 1800′s, when there was a chemist downstairs. Interesting stuff!


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