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Manufacturers' Colour Thoughts

Oh wow - has it really been that long since I posted anything in my blog?! Well, I did always say it was "an occasional blog", but I did mean to write more than once a year!

So what has been going on in the wonderful world of colour recently? Actually, quite a lot...

Johnstone's brought out a …

Read more

Fame at last!

OK, not exactly worldwide fame, but very pleased to see something I've written being published. I recently wrote a review of a new paint brush for the Decorators Forum.  If you're indterested, just click here!

 

Read more

Living Room Makeover

I enjoyed contributing to this living room makeover recently.  The finished result is very simple, but really quite stunning I think.

There were a number of tradespeople involved in this one. First of all, a Gas Safe engineer was employed to remove the old gas fire, which was both dated and …

Read more

Period Property Makeover

When decorating becomes as much about solving problems as aesthetics. This project took a while to complete, but it was important to follow the correct process in order to achieve not only the look that the customer wanted, but also to make it work from a practical perspective.

The front room of …

Read more

Simple Stairs Trick

Sometimes when space is limited, keeping the colour scheme on the walls fairly straightforward is a good idea. But that doesn't mean you can't add a little sophistication to an otherwise simple colour scheme. 

In this stairway we painted the walls in a neutral colour, but brought the space to li…

Read more

Bedroom Refresh

My customer had had some fitted wardrobes removed from her bedroom, which left the walls and ceiling in a bit of a mess.  After some repair work by a local plasterer, I was called in to finish off the job.

Read more

Mirror Makeover

Bathroom Ceiling Problem-Solution

Sharing a house with a lot of other people has its problems. Not just the "who used the last of the milk?" or "who ate my biscuits?" type of problems. The more people you have in a house, the more everything in the house is subjected to wear and tear.  Often the bathroom can be the biggest problem a…

Read more

Bedroom Makeover

This was a fun project that resulted in quite a transformation for the clients' bedroom.

The biggest challenge was the fact that the wall that was destined to be the feature wall, with the clients' carefully chosen wallpaper, was in a bit of a state, due to there having been fitted wardrobes fixe…

Read more

Coving-Boxing Problem

This is not a general rant against builders! There are some excellent builders around who do a really professional job and take a lot of pride in their work. I'm delighted to have worked with some of them. But on this particular job I was meant to be decorating after a builder (who, let's just say, …

Read more

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A Decorator's Blog

Manufacturers' Colour Thoughts

Oh wow - has it really been that long since I posted anything in my blog?! Well, I did always say it was "an occasional blog", but I did mean to write more than once a year!

So what has been going on in the wonderful world of colour recently? Actually, quite a lot...

Johnstone's brought out a new colour guide. To be frank, it is a vast improvement on the old one, and well overdue. The old one felt like "We know how to make paint, and here's a random collection of colours you can have, in the unlikely event that you like any of them". The new one feels more like "We love colour - why don't you try out some of these amazing shades using our great paint products". Which is probably what a colour guide should feel like, if you ask me. There are lots of stylish photos of rooms with explanations of what colours have been used and why they work well together, and the colour "swatches" have been neatly arranged with loads of new neutral shades and some impactful brighter colours as well, including their 2019 Colour of the Year, "Night Watch (PPG1145-7)", which is a really deep, luxurious green, and is both intensely impactful and yet at the same time could almost become a neutral in a large room. There is a bit of a trend for darker, natural colours that seems to have emerged from historical TV dramas recently (from Downton Abbey to Peaky Blinders) - those period properties with the dark green or blue walls seem to be enjoying a little bit of a revival with some people, and I have to say, "Night Watch" in the right setting could be both impactful and calming. So this one gets a thumbs up from me (in the right setting), but the whole Johnstone's colour guide deserves a round of applause for moving their marketing forward in a big way. Usually I would add in a little colour swatch here to show you what it looks like, but I don't seem to be able to do it on this occasion, so with apologies to Johnstone's/PPG for any breach of copyright, here's a photo of "Night Watch" that I've "borrowed" from their web site:

So if that was their colour of 2019, where does 2020 take us (and if I don't hurry up and learn to write more frequently, I'll have to include 2021 in here as well!)? In a way they're on the same slightly retro path, but this year's colour is brighter and in a way even more impactful. It's a rich blue shade called "Chinese Porcelain", which does indeed bring to mind vintage Chinese porcelain... The thing is though, that lovely porcelain-ware was always white with delicate blue patterns or illustrations. It was blue AND white, not just blue, and when you go from the real porcelain-ware with its delicate patterns to a whole wall or whole room painted in the blue colour, it changes from being something delicate to something very impactful indeed. Nothing wrong with it, I quite like it, but it shows how when you take a colour from one setting and use it somewhere else in a completely different way it can change completely.

Enough about Johnstone's, what have Dulux been up to? Well, they too have recognised the whole Downton Abbey/Peaky Blinders retro thing, and have a separate "Heritage" colour chart in addition to their regular one. In some ways that's a good thing, as it means that if you're trying to achieve that specific look, then you know where to go to find those colours. But at the same time, part of me disagrees with the idea of "pigeon-holing" colours as "purely vintage"; yes, there are some great "Downton Abbey" colours in there, like "Midnight Teal" and "Mallard Green", but many of the neutrals such as "Chiltern White", "Quartz Grey" or "Raw Cashmere" would look great in many modern houses, and might even be the next "Polished Pebble" or whatever if Dulux would give them a chance. OK, I'm overthinking it, but there are some lovely colours in here that most people would never see unless they owned a period property.

Dulux's 2020 Colour of the Year is called "Tranquil Dawn", and they really got behind it and gave it a big push. They reprinted all their retail colour guides with "Tranquil Dawn" on the front cover, and it appeared inside too in a number of the "room makeovers"...but strangely NOT in the main pull-out colour guide where all the different colour swatches are. A bit of an oversight, maybe?! Anyway... "Tranquil Dawn" is a pale sage green - Dulux say it sits between green, grey and blue - which definitely has a calm, cool feel to it. It's already proving popular from what I've heard, although it is very similar to their "Willow Tree", which has always been one of their most popular colours. Again, I'm struggling to find or create a little colour swatch, so with apologies to Dulux for any copyright infringement, here's one of their pictures of Tranquil Dawn:

And that brings us to Crown, who have not one, not two, but three new colour guides! A retail one that you can pick up in B&Q or wherever, a trade one (which contains more technical information on their range of trade paints), and a trade "Historic & Classic Colours" guide. Confusingly, the retail colour guide includes a page on what they call their "Period Colours", but these don't seem to be the same colours as in the "Historic & Classic Colours" guide. The latter actually breaks the colours down by time period, so there is a Victorian page, and Edwardian page, an Art Deco page, and so on, which sounds like a really helpful idea initially, but when you realise that each time period only has 15 colours, it does limit your choices quite a bit if you want to be obsessive about only using the Edwardian colours (for example) in your Edwardian house. But, that said, when you look across their three colour guides, there is plenty of colour choice, and some really nice shades to choose from.

And not so long ago, that would have been that. But there are so many more paint brands available on the market these days. Farrow & Ball, of course, who also published a new colour guide - well, an additional guide as a supplement with some new colours in - last year, and Little Greene, who have been growing in recent years. But there are lots of less familiar brands on the market too, some of whom have some excellent products. I may well write a separate blog about some of them in the future (don't hold your breath though!), as many of them deserve more public recognition/awareness. One of which is Nordic paint manufacturer Tikkurila. I think they're Finnish, but I could be wrong, so don't quote me on that. Part of the struggle for me as a decorator is that they have an enormous range of products, all of which have names which mean nothing to me. It's a bit like shopping in Ikea, except that in Ikea you can see what you're buying, whereas with paint it just looks like a tin of paint! I'm used to products called "Water-based wood primer" or "Hard-wearing matt emulsion", and now I'm having to learn a whole new language and familiarise myself with products such as "Otex Akva" adn "Optiva 5". But so far it's been worth the effort to educate myself, and the people involved in selling Tikkurila - both my local stockist and the Tikkurila UK office team - have been really helpful. They have a really extensive range of colours available, and I'm trying to get my hands on some colour guides at the moment to share with interested customers. Their Colour of the Year 2020 is called "H300 Lemonade" which, unsurprisingly, is a very pale lemon yellow, which looks like a great colour to brighten up a dull space that's in need of a breath of summery fresh air.

So, what does it all mean? As I've said many times before, colour is such a subjective thing - at the end of the day, there is no "wrong or right", so much of it is down to personal taste, and if I'm decorating in your home, it's YOUR home, and I'll gladly paint it whatever colour you like. But the good news is, there are some great new colours out there, and a bigger choice of both shades and manufacturers than ever before. Or is there too much choice?! With all these options, it might take until my next blog to choose!

 

Fame at last!

OK, not exactly worldwide fame, but very pleased to see something I've written being published. I recently wrote a review of a new paint brush for the Decorators Forum.  If you're indterested, just click here!

 

Living Room Makeover

I enjoyed contributing to this living room makeover recently.  The finished result is very simple, but really quite stunning I think.

There were a number of tradespeople involved in this one. First of all, a Gas Safe engineer was employed to remove the old gas fire, which was both dated and surplus to requirements (it used to be where the TV unit now is in the above photo).  The carpet was then removed, and then I came in to fit a new length of skirting board (as there was a big gap where the gas fire had been), and paint all the walls, ceiling and woodwork. Once I left, new flooring was laid, blinds were fitted, and the new sofa was built in situ. With the whole room being decorated in whites and greys, the customer then used brightly coloured cushions to accessorise the sofa (and can easily change those to other colours as and when the mood takes her!).  Overall, quite a transformation as you can see in the "before and after" shots below:

Grey wall: Dulux "Warm Pewter" Vinyl Matt Emulsion

Period Property Makeover

When decorating becomes as much about solving problems as aesthetics. This project took a while to complete, but it was important to follow the correct process in order to achieve not only the look that the customer wanted, but also to make it work from a practical perspective.

The front room of this period property is a decent size and had bags of potential, but being an older building the walls are poorly insulated, and were papered with a textured liner.  When it was cold outside moisture condensed on the walls, soaked into the paper, and became a magnet for mould. So I stripped off the paper, only to find that the plaster beneath wasn't the best (no big surprise there!).

So I filled it, rubbed it down and sealed it, so at least we had a decent starting point, and then applied a thermal liner to the exterior walls. This acts like a thin layer of insulation, making the walls feel warmer and so hopefully stopping the condensation problem. I then re-applied the textured paper over the top of this to recreate the period look and feel.

 

Finally the room was painted (ceiling, walls and woodwork). A real "labour of love", but at last this lovely room is beginning to live up to its potential, but still feels very much "in keeping" with the rest of the property.

Colours used on walls: Dulux Trade Vinyl Matt in Cornish Clay (main walls) and Sage Green (chimney breast), both from the Dulux Heritage collection.

Simple Stairs Trick

Sometimes when space is limited, keeping the colour scheme on the walls fairly straightforward is a good idea. But that doesn't mean you can't add a little sophistication to an otherwise simple colour scheme. 

In this stairway we painted the walls in a neutral colour, but brought the space to life by applying a clear satin varnish to the handrail and spindles, and then clean white gloss to the remaining woodwork.  It gives it a really modern, elegant feel without having to spend a fortune.

Bedroom Refresh

My customer had had some fitted wardrobes removed from her bedroom, which left the walls and ceiling in a bit of a mess.  After some repair work by a local plasterer, I was called in to finish off the job.

Mirror Makeover

Bathroom Ceiling Problem-Solution

Sharing a house with a lot of other people has its problems. Not just the "who used the last of the milk?" or "who ate my biscuits?" type of problems. The more people you have in a house, the more everything in the house is subjected to wear and tear.  Often the bathroom can be the biggest problem area. Apart from the difficulties of booking a time in the shower so you're not late for work in the morning, if you have a lot of people sharing one bathroom/shower room, the steam and condensation can lead to all sorts of problems. Unprotected wood and mdf can act like a sponge and absorb moisture from the air, causing them to swell and expand. Walls and ceilings are permanently damp, often leading to unsightly stains and mould.

It was just this type of situation that I was called in to deal with recently.  Sorting it out is actually relatively simple, but not as simple as just trying to paint over it with ordinary emulsion. But taking the correct, simple steps (in the right order) can make a dramatic (and long lasting) difference.

The first thing to say is that these problems often occur when there is inadequate ventilation in the room. A good quality, high capacity extractor fan is designed to pump all the warm, damp air out of your bathroom, which will go a long way towards reducing the problems.  Prevention is always better than cure. I don't have the necessary qualifications or insurance to start installing electrical items in bathrooms, but my first recommendation would always be to look into a good extractor if you have a damp/mould problem caused by too much atmospheric moisture in your bathroom.

The first step is to kill off the mould. Mould is a living organic organism, and simply painting over it will not get rid of it - it will come back. Mould treatments are affordable and easy to get hold of.  They used to be of the "apply with a brush and then wipe off" variety, which inevitably meant, if you were working on a ceiling, that at least half of the chemical treatment ended up running down the brush, over your hand, down your sleeve.... Fortunately, many are now available in a pump-action spray pack, which makes life much less messy. So simply spray on the mould treatment, wait (if/as specified in the instructions), and then wipe off. When I say "wipe off", I would use a damp cloth, and apply a reasonable amount of elbow grease, rinsing the cloth regularly, to try  to get the area as clean as possible.

After the mould treatment has been applied and cleaned off, you should see a dramatic difference, but there will probably still be some staining present caused by the mould. Again, unfortunately simply painting over this will not solve the problem - the stains will almost certainly bleed back through your paint.  So the next stage is to block them out with a stain-blocking primer. The two most widely used in my experience are Polycell Stain Block, which comes in a handy aerosol, which is great for small areas but can get expensive if you are covering a larger area (and you have to be careful where the spray is going!), and Zinsser B-I-N, which all decorators love!

B-I-N is applied with a brush, dries quickly and covers really effectively. It's great stuff - the only thing to be aware of is that nothing will get your brush clean afterwards apart from meths, so make sure you have some in before you use the product.

So now the prep stage is complete, and it's time to paint the ceiling. Zinsser, the makers of B-I-N, have now brought out mould-inhibiting paint. Many other manufacturers do them too, but being a big Zinsser fan I was keen to give theirs a try. It's called Perma-White, and it just goes on like regular emulsion. Two coats and you're done - problem solved!

One note of apology about the photos - when I took the "after" shots, the light was very different, which makes the ceiling look grey. It really wasn't, it was crisp white, but unfortunately my photographic skills aren't as good as my decorating ones!

Bedroom Makeover

This was a fun project that resulted in quite a transformation for the clients' bedroom.

The biggest challenge was the fact that the wall that was destined to be the feature wall, with the clients' carefully chosen wallpaper, was in a bit of a state, due to there having been fitted wardrobes fixed to it in the past. So a lot of filling and sanding down and general making good was needed before we got to the wallpaper.

But once the prep was done, the real transformation started with new doors, a nice neutral shade on the non-feature walls, crisp white paint on the ceiling and woodwork, and then the wallpaper to finish off the room. This is why I love my job - being able to look at the "before" and "after" shots and thinking, "Wow, I did that!".

Coving-Boxing Problem

This is not a general rant against builders! There are some excellent builders around who do a really professional job and take a lot of pride in their work. I'm delighted to have worked with some of them. But on this particular job I was meant to be decorating after a builder (who, let's just say, didn't quite fit into the "excellent and professional" category) had supposedly finished.

This is just one small example of what I had to deal with, which is why the prep on this job took longer than the actual painting. He'd boxed some central heating pipes in to hide them. He'd also put new coving up round the ceiling (much of which I had to take down and re-do, but anyway). Both of these are good things to do. The problem was, he wasn't sure quite what to do when the two elements came together. Or rather, where they were meant to come together. So he just left it...

Now, there's no simple solution to magically make this look beautiful. It takes time and effort, some offcuts of coving, some filler, a bit of elbow grease and a fair amount of patience. And while the finished result isn't 100% perfect, it's pretty close. and certainly a lot closer than where we started from!

 

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