Review: Hemsley - The Own Brand Paint To Rival Farrow & Ball?


A few months ago after having an internal door replaced, I went into Homebase to buy some eggshell paint to paint the new door with. Needing to buy an eggshell that matched my already existing heritage cream skirting, I begrudgingly headed over to the Farrow & Ball paint section. Even though I'm all about doing up your home on a tiny budget, I LOVE posh paint. I'm a die-hard Farrow & Ball fan. I have a box with about 60 sample tins of Farrow & Ball paint in under the stairs. There is no contest for me when it comes to choosing F&B over cheaper brands such as Dulux or Crown. F&B paint gives a beautiful depth of colour due to its high pigmentation and the chalky matt finish looks expensive and elegant. Cheaper paints do not have this depth of colour, they fade over time and glossy paint looks cheap. F&B do a wide range of interesting colours (132 to be exact - check out 'Charlotte's Locks', an intense orange, and 'Vardo', a 50's style teal). You can get any of these colours in different finishes such as eggshell and floor paint rather than just emulsion. The paint is thick, creamy and easy to apply. It is water based and has low VOC's, so it does not smell nor pollute your house with chemicals and it's simple to clean your brushes. It is made in England.

Need I go on?

However, there is one MASSIVE downside - the price. A 2.5L tin of estate emulsion will set you back £40. Not exactly purse friendly. I would argue that if you are going to spend money on decor - spend it on the paint. Think how much you'd spend on a nice piece of art to hang on the wall, and then think how many square metres of your wall you are painting. It has to look good if it's going to cover all the walls and the paint is your base for the whole of the room.

Anyway, back to my story....so I was begrudgingly heading to the F&B paint section. I say begrudgingly because even though I love posh paint, parting with £22 for a cream eggshell paint to paint a door and skirting with is just not exciting. Buying a tin of 'Downpipe' emulsion to transform a room, now that's exciting, but £22 to paint a door cream? Annoying. But what could I do? I needed an authentic heritage colour in a beautiful matt finish. That's when i walked past a paint brand that I had never seen before - Hemsley. The branding looked really nice. The free colour chart was the same as F&B with the little cut out painted pieces of card stuck in. I was reading words that lit up my eyes - 'ultra flat matt', 'exceptional depth of colour', 'made in Britain', 'water based'. The colours were a collection of pleasing soft greys with green and blue undertones. The price? £12.99 for a tin of eggshell - almost half the price of F&B eggshell and even cheaper than Crown Period Colours at £15.99 a tin.

But I'd never heard of this paint brand? I'd not seen any adverts for it? I'd not seen it in any magazines or online? A Google search revealed Hemsley to be Homebase's own brand version of posh paint without the price tag. Quite interesting seeing as Homebase are the only DIY chain store to stock F&B. I'm guessing as Homebase sold F&B and saw the money it generated (I saw on some TV show recently that F&B is now the 3rd most popular paint brand in the UK) they decided to try and corner that market themselves.

I decided to try out this new range and purchased 'Ivory' in eggshell for my new internal door. I have to say that I was really happy with the result - the paint was thick, easy to apply and didn't drip. The colour was rich and dried with a nice finish. I would say that it wasn't as matt as a F&B eggshell, but for half the price of F&B it wasn't anything to complain about, I was a happy customer. The door fitted in with my F&B painted room nicely.

  Clockwise from top - 'Lovington Grey 'in Ultra Flat Matt, door & frame painted in 'Ivory' Eggshell ,  'Pitcombe Pea  ' in Ultra Flat Matt .

Clockwise from top - 'Lovington Grey 'in Ultra Flat Matt, door & frame painted in 'Ivory' Eggshell, 'Pitcombe Pea' in Ultra Flat Matt.

I've since branched out with Hemsley emulsions. 'Lovington Grey' is a good match for F&B's 'Manor House Gray'. 'Pitcombe Pea' is like a F&B 'Vert De Terre' or 'French Gray'. What I also like about Hemsley is that the colours are grouped into collections, so if you are after a particular colour but not sure which version of the colour would be most suitable, you can pick a selection from the grouping to test out which one you like best. I often find with colour charts some greys are under the blue section and vice versa, which makes it harder to compare and contrast colours in the range. Yet ultimately it's the price factor that's the winner here, with Hemsley costing £27.99 for 2.5L.

The downsides? You do not get the vast range of colours like you do with F&B. The colours also tend to stay on the 'safe' side so there are no deep inky blues or swampy dark greens. There is only the basic emulsion available and eight eggshell colours, so there isn't the option for high traffic areas like hallways. However, if you are looking to do up a bedroom or a living room in a pretty heritage grey, an authentic duck egg blue or a chalky, soft pastel pink, I would definitely save your pennies and pick up Hemsley. 

* I was not sponsored by Hemsley for this post. This review is completely neutral and unbiased.