Six creative ways of using paint

Refresh your home with a lick of paint. Maggie Stevenson gives us the lowdown...

The ultimate feature wall, this Mondrian-style mural was painted with Little Greene’s absolute matt emulsion, £37 per 2.5l. The background is ‘Shirting’, lines in ‘Jack Black’ and colour blocks in ‘Tan’, ‘Mocha’ and ‘Deep Space Blue’

1 FURNITURE MADE FABULOUS

Stamp your style on a junk-shop find but first make sure that it’s not an antique.

Remove fittings, then clean, sand and prime surfaces. Expert Annie Sloan’s ultra-matt paint needs little preparation.

‘Very shiny surfaces may need a light sanding but otherwise just make sure surfaces are clean and free from grease,’ she says.

Try outlining table or cabinet tops and drawer fronts in a second colour, or paint the interior in a contrasting colour. 

‘If you favour the rustic look, use heavy sandpaper on the painted surface to distress the finish but, if you prefer modern style, use a flat brush to achieve a smooth result.’ 

PAINTING WORKSHOPS 

Annie Sloan, nationwide Painting workshops are held by stockists of her chalk paint. 01865 803168

The Good Life Centre, London One-day furniture painting techniques courses (£175). 020 7760 7613

Home Barn Shop, Buckinghamshire Half-day furniture painting courses, from preparation to final waxing (£60). 01628 474011

Katie Bonas, Cotswolds Learn how to paint furniture in French and Scandinavian style at one-day workshops (£115). 01285 720778

The Makery, Bath Half-day courses where you can try printing with paint on walls, fabrics and furniture using a patterned roller (£30).

Stencil Library, Northumberland Helen Morris runs two one-day courses, on stencilling (£75) and decorating furniture (£95). Designed to be complementary but can be booked separately. 01661 844844

West Egg, Bedfordshire Learn to paint, distress and wax furniture at Louisa Blackmore’s one-day or weekend workshops. 01767 640695

2 WALL ARTISTRY

Painted walls don’t have to be plain.

Using two, three or more colours, you can create a scheme to bring any room to life.

‘Keep it simple,’ advises Crown Paints colour consultant Judy Smith. ‘Use tones of the same colour, such as pale grey-green and deep olive, or team softer and stronger versions of the same hue, such as a cool off-white with deep turquoise. 

For all-over pattern you’ll need a decorative print roller (try Laura Ashley or The Painted House) or a stencil (from £17.25, Stencil Library) but for stripes or colour blocks the only equipment required is a ruler, spirit level and masking tape. 

3 COOKING IN COLOUR

‘Painting cupboards is a cost effective way to update your kitchen,’ says Melanie Adams of designerpaint.com. ‘Preparation is key. It takes work but thoroughly cleaning and sanding the doors before you start will give the best finish.’ 

Remove handles, wash cabinets with hot water and liquid detergent, then rinse with clear water. When dry, sand the surface with abrasive paper and wipe down with methylated spirits to remove dust. 

If the cupboards are made from a synthetic material such as laminate, you’ll need to use a specialist primer such as Zinsser ‘B-I-N’ from Brewers before applying gloss or eggshell to achieve the look you want.

4 SET THE STAGE

Choosing the right colour for the wall near your favourite piece of furniture can really help show it off to advantage.

Wood comes in a range of natural tones and complementary wall colours vary according to the timber, from aged dark oak to blond maple.

Timber can have underlying colour too – green tones in some oak or warm gold tints in art deco-style burr wood.

We asked six colour experts to suggest paint colours they think will show brown furniture at its best... 

5 GROUND FORCE

Quick, easy and affordable, paint is a good way to integrate the floor into your scheme. A simple way is using one colour all over.

‘Lighter colours bounce light around the room while deeper, stronger hues ground the space,’ says Sarah Cole, director of Farrow & Ball

To introduce more colour, paint a border outlining the room’s shape, or a chequerboard.

‘We’re seeing a more adventurous approach to floor paint,’ says Sarah.

‘There’s a trend for pattern. More people are painting a runner up the stairs for continuity between hall and stairs.’

Try painting floorboards in different tones of the same colour.

‘Before you paint floorboards, fill joins or cracks with non-flexible wood filler then clean and sand the floor until it’s smooth,’ says Sarah.

‘Apply a coat of floor primer and undercoat then two layers of top coat.’

6 LASTING IMPRESSIONS 

A freshly painted front door will give your home what estate agents call ‘kerb appeal’. In other words, it will make your house look smart, well cared for and inviting.

When you’re choosing a new colour for an exterior door, consider your options in relation to the brickwork, stone or render of the walls surrounding it. 

Above all, take into account its aspect. ‘South facing doors are more prone to sun damage so avoid dark colours that absorb heat,’ says Paul Hague of Holman Specialist Paints.

‘Reds are notoriously quick to fade as are yellows and some blues.’

Invest in top quality paint formulated for exterior use and apply it according to the supplier’s instructions.

‘Waterborne acrylic paints last two or three times longer than the solvent-based equivalent,’ says Paul.

‘They are more flexible so can move with the timber and they are not affected by UV degradation. Apply a coat of primer followed by two coats of your chosen colour.’

Midcentury Modern, Dulwich College, London
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