Master Strokes


Master StrokesGive your home a striking makeover without breaking the bank. A lick of paint is a tried and tested, fail safe way to revamp any space, give it a whole new lease of life and change its appearance entirely. It’s also inexpensive and allows you to keep up with trends in a fuss-free manner. Ensure that you don’t end up with a mess on your hands with the House and Home good paint guide.

Before you begin
The surface that you are painting must be ready to work on. If not, your new paint may only highlight a dodgy wall and it could end up looking even worse than before you started. Be thorough and do your groundwork.

  • “The type of priming and preparation required will be determined by the nature of surface of the wall – i.e. is it a new wall or a wall that has been painted before?” notes Barbera Mellerick of Colortrend. “Always use the right tools and brushes. Good quality rollers and brushes last longer and help a job move along more quickly.”
  • If your walls aren’t in decent condition then tackle any lumps and bumps that are there. “First assess the condition of the existing coating” advises Mary Ward of Dulux. “Remove any loose, flaking or powdery coatings. Where the surface remains powdery after preparation apply a coat of Dulux Stain Block Plus which binds back the powdery coating. Where necessary wash sound surfaces to remove grease, dirt and dust. Fill any cracks or holes with suitable filler from Polycell.” “Treat any mildew with a 3:1 water: household bleach mixture, leaving it on for 20 minutes and adding more as it dries; wear eye and skin protection; rinse thoroughly” adds Barbera Mellerick.
  • Designer Neville Knott, who has designed his own colour collection for Crown Paints, advises particular care when working in old houses: “If you have an old house your walls or ceilings might be made up of latts, and they can do something called ‘blow’, which basically means that they will come down on top of you. Tap your wall with the end of a hammer and when there is a hollow sound that means that there is a bit of blow on the plaster behind it. A good painter will be able to advise you.”
  • Any traces of wallpaper must be stripped completely: “If the wall has been papered previously, it is most likely you will need to remove this to get the best result – wallpaper has a nasty habit of curling up at the edges when painted” says David Mottershead of Little Greene.
  • The weather conditions that you paint in will have a bearing on the final result. “Avoid painting in extreme temperatures. If it’s too hot, the paint will dry too quickly and you will not achieve a smooth finish. If too cold or damp, the paint will take much longer to dry” says Sarah Cole, director of Farrow & Ball.
  • “If you’re using a subtle tone, paint an undercoat of brilliant white to give a great base” recommends Neville Knott. “This will give you a pristine coat. You shouldn’t do one or two coats of shades like pale beige or off white over something like navy; the strong pigment will cast a shadow underneath and make it darker.”


Choosing your paint
It’s not just a simple matter of picking a pretty colour and slapping it on your walls; if you don’t take the time to carefully choose your paint and get the right one that works well with your rooms and delivers the finish that you’re after, then your efforts could well be wasted.

  • Shop around and have a good chat with those in the know. “It is important to receive good advice from the experts. Seek advice from your paint stock-list about the surface you are painting, alternatively visit paint manufacturers websites, such as which will have plenty of advice for your painting job. Colour cards, such as the 2008 Dulux Colour Inspiration Guide will also have plenty of information on the various paint products they offer” suggests Mary Ward.
  • “If you have already chosen the furnishings for the room bring swatches and samples when choosing the paint color” advises Barbera Mellerick. “There should be some relationship between adjacent rooms and the new paint color for the sake of flow and continuity. Assess fixed elements in your room; consider those items that will not be painted or changed: upholstered furniture, curtains, carpets and floors. Be sure the color you choose for your walls, woodwork and ceilings will be compatible with the significant colour elements of each room and always remember how rooms link up with each other.
  • Do a dummy run and make sure that the paint you eventually opt for has been tried and tested before you actually use it. “Use sample pots” advises Sarah Cole of Farrow & Ball. “Paint about one square meter onto lining paper and position the painted paper around the room at different times of the day to see how the colour reacts to different lighting conditions and furnishings.” “If you have two windows in a room, paint between the windows so you can get a solid section that you can take a look at” suggests Neville Knott. “Small splodges don’t work; give the paint a couple of days to dry and sink in.”
  • When choosing a finish, you need to do so bearing in mind what the rooms you are painting are used for. Mary Ward suggests you choose your paint on a space-by-space basis: “Consider the area to be painted – Dulux Vinyl Soft Sheen (a wipeable mid sheen finish) or Dulux Easycare Washable Matt (which can be washed and scrubbed) are perfect for high traffic areas. Dulux Bathrooms paint is perfect for high moisture areas, and Dulux Vinyl Matt is perfect for ceilings and low-wear areas. Dulux Moda is a luxurious washable matt finish, which is also perfect for those interested in washability and a beautiful smooth finish. Personal reference for appearance will in many cases dictate the finish.” “Mid sheen is making a comeback because it offers a reflection” notes Neville Knott. “It’s not just for bathrooms, it works anywhere that gets heavy duty traffic, such as corridors.
  • The part of the house that you’re painting will also have a bearing on, Mary Ward points out: “For north facing parts of the house, that have little daylight choose fresh colours that have lots of white and reflectivity – conversely on the south facing, subtle muted tones can look great.”


Clever touches
Paint is such an incredibly versatile and inexpensive way to revamp your home. Get even more value out of it by making it work smart and help beautify or hide parts of your home that you’re not so happy with.

  • “If you have an unpleasant wall, there are certain colours that won’t show that up” says Neville Knott. “Whites or off-whites, for example, though make sure that they are chalky. Matt paint doesn’t reflect light and so won’t show up the bumps. The higher the sheen the more it will show up. You can also go extremely dark with your paint colour, and create a void so you don’t see what’s going on.”
  • A matt finish will do well for hiding irregularities in the surface, and will touch up less noticeably than a paint with more sheen “If you want to manipulate the perceived size of the room with colour, choose an appropriate palate” recommends Barbera Mellerick. “Light monochromatic colours and white ceilings to increase size, dark bold tones with a darker ceiling colour to shrink.”
  • “Try the designer trick of putting strong feature colours on the areas that you want the eye to fall on, and then use more neutral background colours on the less pretty areas” suggests Mary Ward. “Also use very similar tones of paint on woodwork, walls and radiators if you want it to recede more, as breaking up the colours will attract the eye. Radiators can look unsightly, so choose a shade just paler than the wall but with the same tonal value to really blend it in and turn an unsightly feature into a much more elegant space.”
  • “Beware of making a room feel cold by using strong blues and greens unless it is richly decorated” says Sarah Cole. “Keep all your ceilings and woodwork in a single off-white to create a continuous flow throughout different rooms and different floors in your house. Try Farrow & Ball’s Off-White for a traditional look, or Pointing or New White for a more modern appearance. To make a high ceiling appear lower choose deeper and warmer off-whites like String. To heighten low ceilings choose a light cool white like Farrow & Ball James White or All White. Remove tired, old carpets and replace with Farrow & Ball Floor paint for a clean, modern look. It can be applied to wood or concrete floors throughout the house.”
  • What not to do is just as important: “Do not attempt to use a high gloss dark colour on a wall – it will look like a public toilet!” warns Neville Knott.


Source: House & Home Magazine

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