Friday, June 19, 2009

MADELEINE CASTAING: Distinctive Paint Colors

Madeline Castaing was known for her idiosyncratic, dramatic, poetic, and haunting paint colors. For Leves, her dreamy Directoire-style Loire Valley country house, she selected an exquisite pale turquoise. In apartment in Paris, she chose pale blue-grey paint as the foil for black lampshades and white voile curtains. In her shop, she painted walls a vivid green-blue now called Castaing green.

The following paint colors match closely the distinctive and quirky tones Madeleine Castaing loved. Farrow & Ball offers subtle colors based on traditional English interiors. Mythic makes non-toxic paint in a broad range of colors.

I asked Houston interior designer J. Randall Powers for his selections of paints that can be used to recreate the Madeleine Castaing look.
  • Leves exterior, turquoise walls: ‘Blue Ground’ by Farrow & Ball, or ‘Aqua Glass’ or ‘Understated’ by Mythic Paint.

  • Castaing’s Paris apartment bedroom walls, pale soft gray accents: ‘Farrow & Ball’s ‘Parma Gray’ or Mythic Paint’s ‘Solferino Lake’ or ‘Calming Thoughts’.

  • Castaing’s Paris shop walls in rich, deep turquoise blue: Farrow & Ball’s ‘Chinese Blue’, or Mythic Paint’s ‘Siberian Sea’ or ‘Medicine River’.

  • Castaing’s distinctive rich red in clients’ studies: ‘Farrow & Ball’s ‘Incarnadine’ or Mythic Paint’s ‘Royal Raquel’.

  • Castaing’s salon green walls: Farrow & Ball’s ‘Arsenic’ or Mythic Paint’s ‘Inch Worm’ or ‘New World’.

  • Castaing’s pale rose pink guest for boudoir walls: Farrow & Ball’s ‘Calamine Pink’ or Mythic Paint’s ‘Pink Wink’.

  • Plaster white accents on walls at Leves and in Paris apartment: Farrow & Ball’s ‘Pointing’ or ‘Great White, or Mythic Paint’s ‘Pale Moon’.

The two photographs below were two shots I took of the interior of Madeleine Castaing just after she died, when Laure de Lombardini, her longtime assistant, continued to sell her wares.

Note the green-upholstered carved chaise longue that appears in my photographs—and in the living room at Leves. It was one of the highlights of the Sotheby’s auction of Castaing’s estate—and was rumored to have been snapped up by Jacques Grange. Well, that’s the rumor.


  1. I am always looking for colors to set the mood or theme in clients homes!


    Madeleine Castaing's paint colors were so distinctive.
    Farrow & Ball gets it right!
    In Castaing's rooms: atmosphere was also created as paint was peeling off the walls, and over decades the plaster was falling, everything was a bit dusty and faded and softer. That happens if you live to be 98. You can see it in the first Castaing post--her rooms were so romantic, so poetic.

    Watch for next weeks blogs--and a feature on the great Houston interior designer J. Randall Plowers, known to his dear friends as Randy.

    Have a beautiful weekend.

  3. What a superb selection of colours. Incarnadine is vibrant, energizing without being overwhelming and Parma gray is a perfect calming, soothing, elegant shade. It must have been an emotional moment taking those pictures!


    For years I would walk past Madeleine Castaing's shop on the corner of rue Jacob and rue Bonaparte. Like many design fans, I would gaze in the windows, look for signs of MC, gaze some more, too afraid to enter.
    Finally, on September, I opened the door and went in. 'Bonjour, Madame' I called out to the women sitting in the corner chair. MC herself. The wig/chinstrap were not immediately visible. She was a women whose charm and wistful beauty lingered on. Lovely.
    Then, after her death at 98, the contents of her shop were moved along rue Jacob--where the decor was spiffed and elegant. (This is where I took the photos, with permission.)
    It was an insight into time gone by, 'In Search of Lost Time' or 'In Search of Time Past'--very Proust.
    Castaing: her decor was sometimes dismissed by purists as 'fussy' or 'overdone' but I see her influence everywhere today.
    It's the perfect antidote to minimalism and over-modernism.

  5. Thank you so much for this list of Farrow and Ball colors that have a connection to Madeleine Castaing distinctive paint colors. I will have to look at my fan deck for the colors you have listed. I have a copy of Christopher Flach movie on Madeleine Castaing. Wonderful!I

  6. Such a fantastic post! F&B has the richest, most beautiful colors around, and I'm a fan of Chinese Blue. I would love to know if you or Randy have any suggestions for a similar ocelot print carpet- both high end and something reasonably priced.


    Sorry there was a slight delay here. I did research on the Castaing rugs--and some are available in Paris but not here. Randy said that the ocelot pattern is available through Stark--but sadly only in nylon.
    There is a company in Paris called I believe Edward Petit, and they were producting some. There is also a company in Paris that still makes the fabrics (similar to Le Manach). I will continue research.
    all best, DIANE

  8. Hope you all have a chance to see "Madeleine Castaing", a wonderful documentary film by Christopher Flach.
    Beautifully photographed with wonderful commentary by amongst others, Jacque Grange and Madame Castaing's devoted long time assistant Laure de Lombardini,
    The footage of herself walking through those wonderful rooms is truly inspiring.
    I will never forget the first time I saw her robin's egg blue lampshades through the window's of her shop!

  9. Hi Conor--welcome to my blog.
    Yes, you are right about Chris's film--I mention it my first Castaing blog.

    Brillante: I re-read your lovely post. It reminded me--a famous Canadian was recently asked what she most missed about Canada when not there and among other things she said 'spelling colors' in America...I miss the 'u'.

  10. i can see why that chaise longue was one of the auction highlights. i recently discovered your delightful blog. have i been living under a rock? i appreciate the topics you choose to write about, the knowledge you graciously share with your readers, and look forward to spending many hours here with you.

  11. That chaise is amazing... I love the entire room.

  12. Fabulous story! I love the spirit color can embody, and it is so important to get the shade just right. Just a hint in one direction or the other changes everything. Farrow & Ball is definitely my favorite line of paint, perhaps the only one I never adjust.