Patrick O’Donnell is Farrow & Ball’s Brand Ambassador. Updating his own house gives us a special insight into how he decorates, uses colour and why Alternative’s natural floorings provide the perfect partner for his interior schemes. Join us as we step inside Patrick’s beautiful Worcestershire home.
Can you tell us a little bit about your home and who lives there?
My partner and I moved back from County Down in Northern Ireland at the end of 2020 to live with my mother who needs a little ‘light touch’ care, so whilst it has been my primary base for work in England it’s now turned into ‘our home within a home.’
You have been busy redecorating. Where did you start first and why?
The house, whilst perfectly cosy had a 1980s whiff about it so I have been tweaking round the edges for a couple of years, such as my bedroom and study. We started to look at the house more holistically in the last year- working out what we could do without any serious structural work. Basically bringing the house relatively up to date with a fairly tight budget but also with respect to my mother and her spaces. We have hopefully achieved that balance through the use of paint, a little new flooring and the re-hanging of pictures.
Do you have a favourite space and has this changed since redecorating?
My study is my favourite room as it’s pretty much my space where I can have all my nonsense and clutter around me without anyone else being bogged down by my obsessive hoarding and love of ‘things.’ It has shifted from a bland off-white rectangle into a dark green, picture-drenched joyous space.
How would you describe your interior style? And what inspires you?
I don’t know if I have a style per se but I definitely take reference points from so many sources both historic and current. I avoid trends wholeheartedly and whilst I may move furniture, re-hang pictures and add new acquisitions on a fairly regular basis, I truly believe in integrity and never change for the sake of change. The most successful rooms are the ones that speak of the people who live within them. We have also done everything on a pretty tight budget, re-cutting curtains into blinds, painting the ugly kitchen table legs and draping over a block print cloth (much cheaper than a new table). A decorating tip is to look for ways to create elements of interest by looking at what you have with a fresh eye.
Is there a Farrow & Ball colour that you always turn to?
I’m madly in love with Blue Gray right now- it brings such an easy calm without feeling bland and is a great foil for both modern and traditional interiors.
How do you go about designing and choosing colours for your own home? Any brilliant tips?
The starting point can be anything- a colour from curtain fabric or a painting but mainly the colour comes at the very end of the design process for me. It can be quite constraining choosing the colour first and even though painted walls are often the largest surface area I like colours to ‘disappear’ and act as a glue for all the other elements in the room. This is the case with dark colours too. My study is dark green which would dominate on its own but it unifies all the elements in the space, the pictures register better, and the fabric sings.
When starting on your own projects try and create a moodboard whether physical or digital and place all your considered elements together, the flooring, the fabrics, and images of the furniture consider the scale of the furniture but don’t be frightened of putting something large into a small space- it can really help.
Why did you choose Alternative for your home?
I’ve always loved Alternative’s range of natural floorcoverings so was determined to have sisal when we had to replace the existing carpet which had seen better days. The joy of sisal or any natural flooring is the ease at which they work with any scheme- adding a soft textural relief whilst retaining enough neutrality to fit in with most looks. We chose Sisal Herringbone Herne for our dining room as well as our stairs and landing. We are absolutely delighted with how it has turned out.
Did you choose the Alternative Flooring first or the colour for the walls? And any nuggets of wisdom for anyone about to choose both at the same time?
Flooring came first but for no other reason than I knew it would be right for the spaces (dining room and stairs and landing). As mentioned above, natural flooring will work pretty well with any scheme which is of great comfort for those anxious about how a scheme will work together and the samples supplied are pretty generous to help build your mood board. I chose the tightly woven herringbone which creates a wonderful texture but the appropriate depth for stairs, so it neatly shapes around the bullnose.
Do you have any future plans for the house?
Having a break for now but there is another bedroom which absolutely needs some TLC. I have drawn up the floor plans and some small structural drawings to make the room flow better but definitely won’t start until next year. For now, all attention is back on the garden. To read more about Patrick at home visit House & Garden online for the full feature here.