Few designers are as closely associated with California as Kelly Wearstler, whose designs are simultaneously bold and colorful and light and breezy. Her latest endeavor combines the best of both: a series of eight new paints in collaboration with Farrow & Ball. The collection represents the premium British manufacturer’s first partnership with an outside designer in its 75-year history, so, naturally, it had to be both versatile and unexpected. Dubbed the California Collection, it draws upon Wearstler’s expertise designing homes in the Golden State, so even those who are stuck sheltering-in-place in colder climes can infuse a sunnier energy into their spaces. Robb Report sat down with Wearstler to learn more about these new hues, as well as some of the designer’s tips and tricks for working with bright, poppy colors in the home.
How did you choose the colors for the California Collection?
I wanted to evoke the natural beauty of the California landscape within the color selections. The influence of the outdoors on indoor living is so much of what the modern California lifestyle is about, so I wanted to bring some of the incredible hues found in our natural environment into the home.
The collection is informed by the colors that form the backdrop to my daily life. Citrona is like the yellows in lemon trees, Palm is named and colored after the trees dotting Los Angeles, the blue-gray Hazy draws on Malibu’s morning light and Faded Terracotta references rooftops in Southern California or a sun-drenched pot. I also created Tar to be dark like the freeways and Salt to like the misty, salty air at the beach.
You’ve collaborated with many brands over the years on things like carpets, wallpapers and fabrics. What were some of the unique challenges of making paints?
There are so many great colors, it’s hard to narrow down into a collection! But when developing a paint palette, it’s important to make sure that all of the hues cohesively work together as well as stand on their own. We took a trial-and-error approach to make sure that these colors were refreshed and relaxed.
On the flip side, how was this a natural collaboration for you and similar to what you do daily as an interior designer?
I have such a love for color, and I’ve always used paint in my projects to help evoke a certain mood or feel with the interiors. I’ve used Farrow & Ball paints throughout my career. We both have a deep understanding and love for how color can create a dynamic space, so the partnership felt natural.
Broadly speaking, how do you approach incorporating color into an interior design project?
For clients who want to play with color in their homes, I recommend taking a hue that already exists in their home and that they love. It can be a vintage chair or a piece of artwork—anything that makes them feel good, and use that to create a color scheme. Another way to start is to select a bolder color for the wall trim or ceiling. That way, the color still makes a statement but doesn’t completely overwhelm the room.
In the end, don’t be afraid of experimenting! Take risks. You can completely transform the feeling or mood of a space by infusing color, whether that’s with artwork, textiles, wall coverings or objects—the inspiration can come from many different sources. It’s a chance to express your voice within the space and create a personal narrative.
What’s the biggest mistake you see clients make when adding bold hues to a space?
Not considering the natural light in a room—this really affects the color you choose. It’s also important to think about how the space interacts with those that it borders. You want to choose colors that form a hierarchy and that naturally transition between different areas.
What are some underrated tones more people should use in their home?
While I love working with bolder hues, people forget that black and white are colors too! There are plenty of ways to add depth and drama to a space using neutrals.
What three words sum up your personal style?
I would describe my style as free-spirited, evolving and inspired. My design aesthetic is always evolving and depends on the project, client, and architecture.
If you had to describe your personality as a piece of furniture or décor, what would you be?
I would describe myself as like a vintage Mario Botta Quarta chair from the 1980s because I have an old spirit but, like the sculptural chair, I also have a lot of energy and am daring.
What’s your favorite color?
I don’t have one; I truly love all colors equally.
Form or function?