Exclusive: HGTV's Hilary Farr's method for combining paint and fabrics to create an impressive, 'unique space'

'It's a really important part of making a room look great': the designer's advice will change how you pair colors for good

Hilary Farr
(Image credit: Courtesy of Hilary Farr)

When looking for color pairing advice, you could do far worse than follow the wisdom of Hilary Farr. Fans of HGTV and W Network's Love It or List It may need no introduction to the designer's talents, but the British-born designer is just as creative off-screen. 

As the show enters its eighteenth season, Hilary has simultaneously shifted her focus to product design – most recently working with Covington Fabric & Design to create the (aptly named) Love It Collection – comprising eclectic prints, woven textures, jacquard, and embroideries. Hilary's latest designs launch in May – but mastering the art of impactful color combinations begins now. So, where should we begin?

'The concept of a room’s character being open to change –  through color, pattern, and texture – has to be the starting point,' Hilary says in an exclusive interview with H&G.

'You need to ask yourself, what is my starting point? What do I have to work with? It should always be functional, but should the pattern be intrusive? Should it be whimsical? Or loud or lusty? It can depend on so much, including the wall color.'

Hilary Farr

(Image credit: Courtesy of Hilary Farr)
Hilary Farr
Hilary Farr

Internationally recognized designer Hilary Farr is the co-host of HGTV’s Love It or List It. The Toronto-born, London-raised designer regularly appears as a guest on leading news and talk shows and contributes to design publications around the US and Canada – while working on product design via her studio, Hilary Farr Designs.

Decorating with neutrals is at the top of Hilary's love list, and it's easy to understand their enduring appeal. 

'I tend to use a neutral on the walls if I'm designing an entire house from scratch – because that's how I like to live,' Hilary says. 'I like to have a very neutral wall, and then I always paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. I think everyone should. That's a really important part of making a room look great.'

After deciding on paint ideas, Hilary injects personality by layering her fabrics – something that is easier to do if you've opted for a neutral backdrop. 

'Paint is a quick and easy way to create a mood and character, and when it’s paired with the perfect fabric, you are truly creating a unique space (which is something I love to do).'


(Image credit: Covington)

Though Hilary often uses neutrals in her designs, she understands that, in some spaces, you may want to opt for a more vibrant paint color. In this case, however, you need to ensure your fabrics complement – rather than fight – the wall colors. 

'There are only two ways you can make fabrics, and a strong color on the walls works well,' she says. 

'Firstly, you can contrast the paint with fabric to create drama and impact. Or, secondly, you can choose a dramatic paint color that makes a big statement – then pull an element from that to your fabric. The two things speak to each other – as opposed to a strong contrast where they look beautiful together – but are essentially two different elements that have met in the same room.'

In terms of styling paint and fabrics, Hilary says that there are no rules, but we do need to adhere to reality. 'You have to be practical with what you choose if you have children, dogs, and cats, for example.' 

Hilary Farr

(Image credit: Courtesy of Hilary Farr)

We're browsing neutral swatches as we await Hilary's new collection with Covington (and, of course, we'll let you know when it's out). Only a few short weeks to go. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.