My way of decorating….

Wisewebwoman asked if I had any decorating tips. I am no expert, but I have done my fair share of decorating over the years. Where to start?

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Make a list of all that you need:-

  • sturdy stepladder.
  • sandpaper.
  • filler for any small holes or cracks.
  • emulsion for walls.
  • paints for woodwork.
  • white spirit to clean the finish paint brushes. *
  • selection of brushes for emulsion and finish paints.
  • rollers with a telescopic pole (saves climbing).
  • old clean bucket for mixing paint.
  • roller paint tray same size as roller.
  • an old long handled wooden spoon or several piece of dowelling to stir emulsion.
  • selection of screwdrivers – Phillips and straight headed.
  • Cling/Saran film to cover light fittings, PIRs, and heating controls. Don’t forget to remove the cling/Saran before switching on the lights!
  • I have a supply of old sheets to cover the floor and anything unmoveable.
  • clean damp cloth for splash removal.

If Papering:-

  • Wallpaper. **
  • Wallpaper paste.
  • Pasting bucket and brush.
  • Paper scissors.
  • Sharp knife.
  • Pasting table.
  • Measuring tape.
  • Brush for settling paper to the wall and removing bubbles of paste or air.
  • Clean damp cloth to remove excess paste. This cloth will need rinsing regularly to remove the paste.

I begin by making space in a spare bedroom. Next I move small tables, all pictures, ornaments, books, DVDs & CDs to this temporary home. Anything that I might need goes to the kitchen and sits under the counter. I clear the floor of all the furniture. I only have one piece of furniture – a wall unit that I do not remove from the room and use an old duvet cover, envelope fashion to protect it.

My floors (with the exception of my kitchen) are all covered with carpet. I find it warmer under foot. I keep a rectangular carpet sample to help with moving heavy items of furniture – a tip I learned from a professional painter many years ago. Place the sample pile side down under one end of the furniture and pull on the other end of it, the furniture will glide along. Pile to pile. It works a dream.

When deciding to do any big chore I make sure that I have a choice of soups and dinners prepared and in the freezer. The soup is easy to heat at lunchtime and at the end of a long day painting, a ready made meal is very welcome.

A long handled soft brush is handy to sweep the ceilings and walls of dust and stray cobwebs. I keep a brush for that purpose alone, and it is used many times throughout the year.

Old comfortable clothes that are relegated to the painting box. Flat shoes. I wear a scarf doubled at the back of my neck to give extra support for when I am bending my head back to look up at the ceiling.

My walls are covered with a blown paper to take away the plain surface and I regularly freshen the walls with a coat of emulsion. With plain walls the furnishings and fittings come into their own.

Years ago I used brilliant white, but now find it rather clinical and stark. Magnolia becomes dull rather quickly so I buy a bucket of both and mix them. A trick I learned about twenty years ago was to buy one of them in Matt finish and the other in Silk finish. When mixed and well stirred the walls have a light sheen. Make sure to mix enough paint to finish the job because no two mixes are the same.  It is a good idea when the job is complete, to keep a screw top jar full for emergency touch-ups. That way you have the exact colour.

Try to keep a window open while working, to disperse any paint fumes. When the work is complete, I light a candle with a well trimmed wick and leave it sitting for a couple of hours. It helps to clear the smell of paint.

With emulsion paint I use a roller for large areas and a brush for corners, cornices and narrow strips. Always begin at the furthest corner and work towards the light. My ceilings are papered so I am inclined to work a strip at a time.  Emulsion can be worked forward & backward or even criss-crossed, just make sure to cover the whole area and not leave gaps.

If it is your first time to decorate, just remember that while it is drying, wet paint can look patchy. Stay confident and wait until the next day and usually the paint has dried to an even cover.

With finish paint – gloss, or eggshell – you need to check the instructions on the tin before you open it. Some paints need to be stirred and some don’t. Make sure to purchase enough. Two smaller tins rather than a great big one, might be a better idea. Keep receipts and usually any unopened tins may be returned to the shop.

When using finish paint, use a good brush, with very little paint on it, and work a small area in one direction only! When painting door frames, begin with the section next the hinges then open the door and use a wedge to keep it open. Next work on the area the door closes into, and finally finish the upper frame and that down the other side. Lastly paint the door on one or both sides. I leave a chair or large book beside the door so that I do not close it by mistake before the paint is really dry and not just dry to the touch.

Finish paint has a tendency to look darker when wet.

Dispose of old paint carefully. Check with your local Council.

** When buying wallpaper check the pattern and batch numbers, like balls of knitting wool, they need to be the same batch. How many rolls do you need? Measure the length and breath of the room and the height on the walls. Take this to the shop with you and a member of staff will help you work it out. Don’t forget to allow for pattern drop. I usually buy an extra roll, it allows for errors in cutting and it can be returned if unopened and you have kept the receipt.

* I ran out of white spirit and had some paint on my hand, Looking about for something to remove it, I tried nail polish remover. It worked.

I keep note of how many rolls of wallpaper are required for each room. And save a sample of paper with the paint on, and add to this a sample of carpet and curtain fabrics. It comes in handy if you are changing one item or want something to fit in with your colour scheme. It is not always easy to carry a colour in your head.  The lighting in a shop can make things look very different.

This is by no means a complete list of decorating tips, but the ones I use most often. I hope they help.

12 thoughts on “My way of decorating….

  1. Great tips! I wish I had the guts to change the wallpaper in three rooms, but I don’t know how to do it. Seems daunting. Further, I am simply not adept at cutting and making seams match. Wish I could hire you to do the job!

  2. I can’t thank you enough for this, GM. I’ve printed it off. I used to do a lot of painting, wood refinishing, papering but it has been years and after the disastrous efforts made here by my “painter” whom I wrote about, I’m going to tackle it myself.

    Wonderful re-training manual!!

    XO
    WWW

  3. Ramana – I tried to cover everything.

    Nancy – Vinegar did make an appearance when I was cleaning the windows!

    Gigi – I am tall with long arms and that is a bonus when it comes to cutting, pasting and hanging wallpaper.

    WWW – Pace yourself and don’t overdo it.

  4. Warren – When I had a spouse (cue violins)….. we worked as a team and it was half the work. ;)

    Barbara – Some people run marathons, I decorate! :lol:

    Conrad – I though of adding masking tape – I think it would be similar to your blue painter’s tape. I always found it made me lazy and I somehow managed to get unwanted paint under the tape, so I left it off the list.

  5. We must be distant cousins, GM. I have all those supplies at my house and it took more than a year to strip wallpaper, repair walls, sand, paint, etc.

    Have also done some work on the property. Soon as I finish the book I’m writing I’ll get back to it.

    Bet your place looks lovely.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

  6. Tilly – Now you tell me! I just wash the tray, stirring spoon and brushes and have them ready for next time. Once I covered the used brush in cling to keep the bristles soft until the next day.

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