Purchasing a new studio space for the Amity Worrel & Co. Austin interior design studio started out as a practical move. My growing team of interior designers needed more room to spread out, and I secretly wanted to dive into a personal project again after finishing the renovation of my childhood home here in Austin. I never expected to get so carried away in the history and story of the 120-year-old bungalow I recently purchased for our new space.
The original structure was built in 1901. It was a modest farmhouse in a pecan orchard outside the city limits. By the 1920s, however, the growing Austin metropolis showed up on the original family’s doorstep. Soon, pecan trees were replaced with neighbors.
When thinking about the story of the home, I pictured these humble folks adapting to the newfound city life around them. The 1920s would have been the perfect time to renovate and add a little urban flair to their country home.
My team of Austin interior designers and I focus on period renovations here at Amity Worrel & Co. When deciding on a design decade to lean into for this project, the 1920s just made sense to us. In many ways, we’re living parallel lives to the family who started their modest renovation 100 years ago. Then, the world was recovering from a cholera pandemic. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic sent us into lockdown as we began our own project in the home.To achieve an authentic 1920s feel, I knew I had to research paint colors that would work together to create the perfect backdrop. The palette had to be rooted in history, but still needed to feel fresh and cohesive for a modern work environment.
Here’s how we picked out colors for our Austin interior design studio and why we chose Farrow & Ball paint.
Selecting a Historic Color Palette That Feels Fresh
During the 1920s, Art Deco and Craftsman designs were all the rage. These interior design styles featured rich, earthy colors inspired by nature. Over 100 years later, many of these colors are now trending — perfect timing for us! The cold white and gray color palettes of the 2010s have been replaced with olive greens, rust oranges, and marigold yellows. We ultimately landed on a palette of dusty pinks, deep greens, and rich browns for our new Austin studio. While the colors feel fresh and modern, they honor the period of the home.
Why We Chose Farrow & Ball Paint
My Austin interior design team and I have sourced paint from many manufacturers, tracing down the perfect shades for each project. For our Austin studio project, Farrow & Ball fit the bill. Farrow & Ball was founded in Dorset, England, back in 1946 by John Farrow and Richard Ball. Farrow was a trained chemist who worked for Ireland’s Agnew Paints during World War II, and Ball was an engineer who survived capture as a prisoner of war. The company has a rich history and reputation for creating the finest quality paints with more pigments, richer colors, and better coverage. This home’s history called for a richer paint with unsurpassed integrity. Here are the top reasons we chose Farrow & Ball paint for our new interior design studio.
Unsurpassed Color Quality
The Farrow & Ball difference lies in how the pigmented colors respond to light throughout the day. In many ways, walls painted in their rich shades come to life and form their own personalities. All of their hues are designed to stand alone or complement beautifully together. What might seem like a subtle color difference compared to other paints makes a huge impact when you bathe your walls in it.
Eco-friendly and Low-odor Recipe (They Actually Smell Amazing)
Farrow & Ball’s paints are made with a water-based, low-odor, eco-friendly, and safe recipe. These sustainably-minded paints don’t have that awful lingering paint odor you remember from your last remodel. My husband says the Farrow & Ball paint smell reminds him of incense in an old church. This paint is heavenly and not like any other you’ve used before.
Charmingly Offbeat Names
There is no reason why luxury can’t be fun. Farrow & Ball is charmingly offbeat and irreverent with their paint names. Does anyone else admire a British sense of humor? Joa Studholme names the colors at her kitchen table in her English countryside home. She comes up with names like Dead Salmon, Mouse’s Back, and Elephant’s Breath. These colors are much more fun to talk about in a design plan than “Basic Beige” and “Off-White.”
A Rich History
Farrow & Ball has successfully created a luxury brand…around paint! The rich brand history of Farrow & Ball has landed its colors splashed on famous walls from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to Queen Elizabeth II’s weekend residence. Celebrities including Padma Laksmi, Shay Mitchell, and January Jones shamelessly namedrop the brand — showcasing themselves with richly painted Farrow & Ball backdrops in their homes. While Farrow & Ball had a rural start, they have unlocked international, cosmopolitan appeal.
The Farrow & Ball Colors We Selected for Our Interior Design Studio
We chose Setting Plaster, Pink Ground, India Yellow, Green Smoke, Studio Green, Mole’s Breath, and Mahogany to paint the studio’s interior. We accented the exterior with Studio Green railings. I wanted to use an exceptional paint finish on the studio because I knew that the quality was the best, and the little bungalow had been neglected over the years. We all need a glow-up.
Setting Plaster is a dusty pink named after the blushing walls of freshly plastered homes. This historic pink features yellow pigments for a warming effect and provides a beautiful backdrop to antiques. It perfectly pairs with our dark Mahogany accents.
Pink Ground is another dusty pink shade. Like Setting Plaster, it has a yellow pigment base that feels grounded rather than sweet.
India Yellow is a deep marigold named after…wait for this…the pigment collected from the urine of cows fed on a special diet of mango leaves! (We told you Farrow & Ball goes all out on designing and naming their colors.) The color pairs well with dark Mole’s Breath and Mahogany.
Green Smoke is a rich green-blue color popular during the late 19th century. It feels calm and grounded, perfect for studies, lounges, and interior design offices.
Studio Green sounds like it belongs in an interior design studio, right? It was the original color used at the Farrow & Ball studio, and we are honored to have that history painted on our walls here in Austin.
Mole’s Breath is named after the little furry animal which burrows away from the world. (We did pick these colors during the pandemic, remember.) The color feels sullen yet warm, and it pairs well with the brighter accents of pink and yellow.
Mahogany is named for one of the darkest and richest wood tones, bringing an elevated sense of grandeur to your walls. This historic color is the perfect fit to elevate our humble studio while not deviating from its cozy roots.
Painting a Background for Curated Objects and Antiques
I wanted our studio to have an antique feel. So, we sourced and collected a beautiful collection of curated objects and antiques to fill the rooms. We mixed high-brow and low-brow items, pairing fine pieces with estate sale finds (one of my favorite design practices.) When choosing colors, we kept these collections in mind. Asking, “what colors would reflect the history and show off these pieces in the best light?” Setting Plaster and Mahogany were made for the job, and the colors deliver beautiful results. When selecting colors for your walls, remember to consider the whole design plan.
Designing a Studio Our Interior Design Team Can Call Home
While selecting a Farrow & Ball color palette was one of my favorite parts of this project, it took a lot more than paint to turn this bungalow into a studio our design team could call home. First, we worked to restore the home to its former glory. We moved the front door back to its original location, replacing the makeshift entry with 1920s reclaimed windows from another job site. We took down the rotting wooden deck to reveal the original concrete porch in pristine condition. We rearranged walls and added paneling in a profile that felt true to the original intent.
Next, we restored the original long-leaf pine floors, sealing them to showcase their natural beauty. Finally, we reconfigured bedrooms into cozy workspaces with storage and welcoming nooks and crannies to retreat into our designs.
As you can see from the photos, the home is still a work in progress. But, I am honored to be the new steward of this long-lived home where we can create in a space surrounded by beautiful things (and amazing colors).
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.